NBA Predictions and Best Bets – March 12, 2021

| March 12, 2021 4:32 am PDT

The NBA’s best team is back in action on Friday. No, not the Lakers, but the 27-9 Utah Jazz.

Utah is well rested after the All-Star break, and hasn’t played in the league’s first two days of action since the five-day layoff.

And they get to host an awful Rockets team that played on Thursday.

If that isn’t a bet to hammer home, I don’t know what is. See what else is worth attacking on Friday’s NBA betting slate, with a quick look at the schedule.

  • Cleveland Cavaliers vs. New Orleans Pelicans
  • Philadelphia 76ers vs. Washington Wizards
  • Denver Nuggets vs. Memphis Grizzlies
  • Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls
  • Orlando Magic vs. San Antonio Spurs
  • Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz
  • Indiana Pacers vs. Los Angeles Lakers

There’s plenty of reason to get excited for this slate. Joel Embiid returns to the floor for the Sixers, Nikola Jokic is out there, and LeBron James closes out the night with his Lakers.

If you’re ready to place some bets, first see which way I’m leaning with Friday’s NBA predictions and top betting picks.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. New Orleans Pelicans Predictions

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

Friday’s NBA betting action gets started in New Orleans, where the suddenly faster-paced Pels are 10-9 on the year.

New Orleans could be a bit tired after playing the Timberwolves on Thursday, but they enter as the logical favorites here.

Cleveland has some solid pieces in Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Jarrett Allen, and I think they can put up some points here. That should put the Over in play, but the Cavs (4-6 over their last 10, and 5-12 on the road) are not easy to trust.

I like the Pels and the Over, but Cleveland ATS could also be an interesting third bet.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Washington Wizards Predictions

  • 76ers to beat Wizards
  • Predicted total: 225-230

The 76ers are another team in action after playing last night, but they were without their two biggest stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

Simmons is out until Sunday, but Embiid is expected back for this one.

For what it’s worth, the 76ers tend to struggle without their top playmaker. Take a look at how they’ve fared without Simmons running the offense.

Date Opponent Result
1-9-21 Nuggets Lost
1-11-21 Hawks Lost
2-4-21 Blazers Lost
2-17-21 Rockets Won
2-19-21 Bulls Won

That isn’t great, but at least Embiid is back, and there’s no doubt the Wizards will have a tough time slowing him down.

Washington has been better as a whole over the last several weeks, but they also just got waxed by the Grizzlies. With Embiid back, I like the 76ers and the Over in this spot.

Denver Nuggets vs. Memphis Grizzlies Predictions

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

Memphis did just beat the Wizards, but in a vacuum, that doesn’t sound amazing. They’re still just 17-16 on the year (8-11 at home), and I’m not sure they have the goods to take down a well-rested Nuggets team.

Jonas Valanciunas is a strong candidate to get into foul trouble against Nikola Jokic, and after that, it’s good night. 

These two sides haven’t faced yet this year, but Denver has won four of the last five meetings.

They’re also on fire, as they won four games going into the break, and will look to keep that positive momentum going.

Miami Heat vs. Chicago Bulls Predictions

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

The Bulls played last night, but they’re at home and are pretty young overall, so I don’t think it will impact them too much. The Heat also played last night, so it’s a wash.

They’re still the understandable underdog here, as Miami is finally healthy for the most part.

Miami does take a hit if center Bam Adebayo is held out for the third game in a row, of course.

Jimmy Butler is playing out of his mind, however, and Miami is still the better team with more defensive aptitude. I think this could still turn into a shootout if Zach LaVine shows up, but I like Miami to get the win.

Orlando Magic vs. San Antonio Spurs Predictions

  • Spurs to beat Magic
  • Predicted total: 210-215

Orlando is getting a little healthier, but they have not been competitive in recent weeks. They’re also just 5-11 on the road this year, and come into Friday as the second worst team in the east.

It’s worth wondering if the Spurs take a mental hit now that the team knows LaMarcus Aldridge is moving on, though.

Then again, Ridge not being part of the team’s plans should clean up their rotations, and allow their young talent to blossom.

Regardless, the Spurs are still in a good spot at 18-15, they’re at home, and they’re the better team. This is probably a game I’d stay away from, but I like the Spurs and the Under.

Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz Predictions

  • Jazz to beat Rockets
  • Predicted total: 215-220

Utah still owns the NBA’s best record, and in a recent rundown of the best NBA futures to target, our own Michael Wynn tabbed them as his pick to win it all.

Take a look at all of those futures here.

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If you want to bet on this game, though, I’d just ride the Jazz. They did lose two in a row before the break, but they’re 15-2 at home, and the Rockets are terrible.

Indiana Pacers vs. Los Angeles Lakers Predictions

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

The other late game to help cap the night sees LeBron James and the Lakers hosting the Pacers.

Indiana hopes to get back on track after a sluggish 16-19 start to the year, but I doubt they get it right at the Staples Center.

L.A. is still without Anthony Davis and they are slipping, but this is a winnable game for them. Indiana doesn’t rebound well beyond Domantas Sabonis, and the Pacers don’t have anyone that can stop King James.

Best NBA Bets for Friday, March 12th

  • Nuggets (-2.5) -115
  • Pacers (+4.5) -110

The best sites for betting on the NBA are a bit light in terms of odds as I write this. For now, I really like Denver to win and cover, and I think +4.5 is a bit thick for Indy given the current state of the Pacers.

The Nuggets are a solid 12-8 on the road this year, and they’re in a groove right now. They’re better than Memphis and have a slew of mismatches to work with, while this spread isn’t very thick.

Denver is also 9-5 ATS as a road favorite, so that’s a nice feather for their cap.

The Lakers should beat the Pacers, but they haven’t been the same team without Davis. They’ve lost two in a row and seven of their last 10, and they’re just 7-11 against the spread as a home favorite on the year.

These are two solid NBA bets to get you started. Happy betting, and enjoy the games!

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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