NBA Predictions and Best Bets – January 22, 2021

| January 21, 2021 4:23 pm PDT

The NBA schedule has been wild this week. I wanted to say annoying (and I still am, in a sense), as The Association can’t seem to make up its mind how busy it wants to be.

A good example? Thursday had three games, and Friday’s schedule has 11.

In the interest of full disclosure, the schedule originally had 13 games.

No matter, there are a ton of NBA games on the schedule, and you can make money betting on them. See which games are firing off on Friday night.

  • Houston Rockets vs. Detroit Pistons
  • Orlando Magic vs. Indiana Pacers
  • Chicago Bulls vs. Charlotte Hornets
  • Brooklyn Nets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers
  • Miami Heat vs. Toronto Raptors
  • Atlanta Hawks vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs
  • Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers
  • Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns
  • New York Knicks vs. Sacramento Kings

See? I told you this is a fat schedule.

It’s a pretty exciting one, too. Kyrie Irving heads back to Cleveland for the second time this week, Boston and Philly face-off, and big stars like Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, and Kawhi Leonard are all in action.

Let’s see how you might want to bet as I run through my NBA predictions and top betting picks for Friday night.

Houston Rockets vs. Detroit Pistons Predictions

  • Pistons to beat Rockers
  • Predicted total: 220-225

The Pistons are in a bad way. They’re at home, but they’re 3-11, and they’re being weighed down by a declining Blake Griffin.

Detroit could still snag a win here, though. John Wall is still set to be out, while big man Christian Wood isn’t going to suit up, either.

Houston will still have Victor Oladipo, Eric Gordon, and DeMarcus Cousins on hand, but they’re in a tough spot here. All things considered, it’s hard not to side with the home team.

Orlando Magic vs. Indiana Pacers Predictions

  • Pacers to beat Magic
  • Predicted total: 215-220

The Magic won their last game and are creeping back to .500. They’re still operating with a rookie point guard, though, and a road date with a good Pacers team isn’t going to be easy.

Indiana traded away Victor Oladipo, and they also may be without star center Myles Turner for a while.

The Pacers are at home and have quite the dynamic duo in Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis, though. Orlando will put up a fight, but ultimately I like Indy here.

Chicago Bulls vs. Charlotte Hornets Predictions

  • Hornets to beat Bulls
  • Predicted total: 220-225

The Bulls and Hornets are both quietly decent. Nobody expected much of either team entering the 2020-21 NBA season, and they’re both hanging around at 6-8.

I give the early edge to the Hornets, as they’re at home, and they boast the far better defense. 

Chicago is also probably going to be without starting center Wendell Carter for this one.

A young Bulls team on the road needs all the help they can get. Unless Zach LaVine and Coby White put up career nights, I don’t love their chances.

Brooklyn Nets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Predictions

  • Nets to beat Cavaliers
  • Predicted total: 220-225

Kyrie Irving’s first trip back to Cleveland for the first time since 2017 was ruined by an overtime loss.

Yes, the mighty Nets lost to the Cavaliers of all teams.

Luckily, Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant should all be together again and will likely be focused on preventing a similar outcome.

Cleveland has a real dude in Collin Sexton, though.

That much is for sure, so don’t be shy about betting on the Over or taking Cleveland ATS. I don’t see why the Nets would lose another game to the Cavs, however.

Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers Predictions

  • 76ers to beat Celtics
  • Predicted total: 215-220

Boston has dropped two straight, with their most recent loss coming against the very 76ers team they’ll face on Friday.

Nobody should be shocked, though. 

Boston is still good and well-coached, but star point guard Kemba Walker remains on a minutes limit, and Jayson Tatum is still sidelined.

Philly is healthier, at home, and honestly, probably just the better team. Look for them to add to their nasty 8-1 home record.

Miami Heat vs. Toronto Raptors Predictions

  • Raptors to beat Heat
  • Predicted total: 215-220

The Heat have been fighting an uphill battle all year, and it may not get any easier on Friday. 

Not only do they have to battle a hungry Raptors squad, but they’ll do so without Jimmy Butler.

Heck, Tyler Herro is even iffy once again as I write this.

Toronto has had their issues, but at least they know which bodies they’ll have on Friday. Because of that, they’re easier to trust and look like the better team to back at NBA betting sites.

Atlanta Hawks vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Predictions

  • Hawks to beat Timberwolves
  • Predicted total: 230-235

The Hawks are trending in a positive direction, as they’ve won two in a row and have a chance to get over .500 on Friday.

Clint Capela is also coming off of a game for the ages.

Atlanta isn’t close to full strength, but they’re playing well and have been much better defensively this year. Minnesota is at home, but as long as star center Karl-Anthony Towns is out, they’re not a good bet.

Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs Predictions

  • Mavericks to beat Spurs
  • Predicted total: 220-225

Dallas finally got a win since Kristaps Porzingis returned, as he went ham in a tough matchup against the Pacers.

The Mavs are surely going to round into form before long, and tonight they have a great opportunity to close the gap on first place in the Southwest Division.

The latest 2021 Southwest Division odds still favor them by a wide margin, after all.

Naturally, I like them to get a nice road win in San Antonio. The Spurs have been solid, but they’ve weirdly been very beatable (2-4) on their home floor.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers Predictions

  • Clippers to beat Thunder
  • Predicted total: 215-220

Kawhi Leonard and co. look like an easy bet on Friday, assuming no key players hit the “load management” button and take the night off.

That’s always a risk, but even if that happens, the Clippers still face a beatable Thunder team at home.

There is no word on the status of Al Horford, who OKC may need just to keep this game close.

Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns Predictions

  • Nuggets to beat Suns
  • Predicted total: 215-220

This may be the best game of the night, as we get a showdown between Nikola Jokic and Chris Paul.

Jamal Murray, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton also make this interesting, as does the pending return of key rotation scorer Michael Porter Jr.

MPJ could be back for this game, but it’s worth wondering just how involved he’ll be after missing so much time. 

Either way, Denver has the edge down low, and after a sluggish start, they need this one a bit more than the Suns.

New York Knicks vs. Sacramento Kings Predictions

  • Kings to beat Knicks
  • Predicted total: 220-225

Lastly, we have the Knicks hosting the Kings. This is a clash of styles, as New York plays very slow and weirdly sports the league’s 7th best defense.

Sacramento, meanwhile, ranks dead last in defensive efficiency but try to push the pace on offense.

The Over is probably an option here, and bettors also need to monitor a potentially tired Knicks team that played at Golden State last night.

Best NBA Bets for Friday, January 22nd

  • Mavericks (-3) -110
  • Knicks vs. Kings Over 218.5 (-110)
  • Nuggets (+1) -110

It’s still early, so there aren’t NBA odds out for every game. Be sure to check your favorite NBA betting sites to get the best pricing, and then use my NBA predictions to formulate some bets.

For now, I’ve got three NBA picks I’m high on.

I see Dallas getting in a groove here. The team has only had a few games with their top two stars playing together, and before long, that’s going to be a problem for the rest of the league.

The Spurs are a team the Mavs can handle, and I feel the same way about Denver in Phoenix. 

The Suns are a solid defensive team this year, but they don’t have anyone that can stop The Joker. I think the return of MPJ also provides a nice boost as the Nuggets work to get over the hump.

I don’t mind the Kings as a 3.5-point favorite (-115), but the more appealing wager is the Over in their game. Yes, the Knicks play slow, but usually, the home team dictates the pace.

Sacramento will push things a bit more, while their terrible defense should allow the Knicks – tired or otherwise – to get some easy buckets. That, and 218.5 is just too low of a total.

Hopefully, these NBA predictions and betting picks serve you well. For a little more NBA insight, check out these other NBA posts.

Noah Davis
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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