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Free NBA Betting Picks and Best Bets (4/22/24)

Jalen Brunson - NBA DFS Lineup Picks, Daily Fantasy Basketball

The 2024 NBA playoffs are underway and tonight there are three games to look at. We saw Game 1 of these matchups play out on Saturday. The Cavaliers, Knicks, and Nuggets all defended their home courts to take early series leads.

Yesterday I had a nice day, going 2-1 on my three picks. The Boston Celtics took care of business in the first half by going over their total. My second win came with the Bucks defending their home court, blowing out the Pacers. I have a bone to pick with the Dallas Mavericks for not showing up in the first half but I’ll let it slide. Let’s keep it rolling.

In this article, I'll be providing my favorite picks against the spread, game totals, parlays, and teasers for the NBA slate that tips off at 7:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, April 22. Follow me on X, @Jwiesel13.

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NBA Betting Picks: Totals

Philadelphia 76ers (+5) at New York Knicks (209 total)

The New York Knicks picked up a thrilling Game 1 victory on Saturday. Leads were exchanged and both teams went on multiple big runs throughout this game. Ultimately, the Knicks hit massive shots late in the game to ice it. I don't feel comfortable laying the number with the Knicks, so I'll refrain from choosing a winner.

My focus here is on the Knicks' first-half team total. Philly came out scoring, putting up 34 in the first quarter. The Knicks scored 25 and did not shoot well from the floor. In the second quarter, New York crushed the Sixers 33-to-12, ending the first half with 58 points.

There are different ways to look at this half of basketball and notice inconsistencies on both sides. The Knicks only shot 37 percent on their FGAs but hit eight three-pointers and shot 16-for-20 from the foul line. That is a ton of free throw attempts but I don't think it's that crazy; this series is going to be very physical. If the Knicks get fewer FTAs to start this game, they should make up those points by shooting a better field goal percentage.

Something else I also noticed is that the Knicks are pushing the ball more. New York has the personnel to play faster and by doing this, it puts more pressure on Joel Embiid to get back on defense. Joel is hurt and it was pretty obvious he had a tough time athletically going for rebounds. He played 11 minutes in the second half, scoring 11 points and grabbing only four rebounds.

New York dominated Philadelphia on the glass, out-rebounding them 55-to-23 and 23-to-9 on the offensive glass. They also had 26 second-chance points compared to the Sixers eight. The Garden crowd will be fired up as always and Embiid's mobility doesn't make me confident in Philadelphia's defense. Jalen Brunson and Donte DiVincenzo both didn't shoot well on Saturday; they'll want to get off to better starts tonight.

The Pick: Knicks First Half Team Total Over 54.5 (-114 FanDuel)

Los Angeles Lakers (+7.5) at Denver Nuggets (223.5 total)

The Lakers gave Denver a good first game before the Nuggets pulled away. Down three at halftime, Denver used a 32-18 third quarter to bring an 89-to-78 advantage to the fourth. They played the fourth quarter even at 25 a side and the closest the Lakers cut the deficit was six. I won't say the series is over but Los Angeles looked pretty dejected and exhausted at the end of this game. They played relatively decently and still only put up 103 points.

Trying to capitalize on fatigue, I'm going to take the Lakers' first-quarter team total under. On Saturday, LA got off to a hot start, scoring 33 in the opening frame. They were very efficient, hitting nearly 62 percent of their FGAs and knocking down 3-of-7 three-pointers.

Anthony Davis (45) and LeBron James (40) both played heavy minutes and Davis looked like he kept getting hurt throughout the game. Denver was also better in the first quarter at home than they showed in Game 1. For the season, they only allowed 26.1 points per game and opponents shot 44.2 percent on FGAs. When people think of the Nuggets, they gravitate towards offense but this team also finished eighth in defensive rating. At Ball Arena, Mike Malone's team was third in first-quarter defensive rating among home teams. I think they'll get off to a better defensive start tonight.

The Picks: Lakers First Quarter Team Total Under 27.5 points (-113 FanDuel)

 

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NBA Betting Picks: ML & Spreads

Orlando Magic (+5.5) at Cleveland Cavaliers (203 total)

The only one of my three picks I got right on Saturday was for the Cavaliers to cover the two-point first-half spread. This game started off exactly as I imagined, with Cleveland coming out hot from the jump. The Cavs scored 33 points in the opening frame and went 5-for-1o from three. A 20-to-15 second-quarter advantage saw them up 53-to-41 at halftime.

In the second half, they basically played even, with the Cavs outscoring them 44-to-42. The Magic shot horrendously in this game, only hitting 32.6 percent of their FGAs and 21.6 percent from three. Even from the foul line, they hit 19-of-30 attempts to shoot a poor 63.3 percent.

I liked the way Orlando responded in the second half and I'm going to take them to cover the opening quarter. Will they light up the scoreboard? Probably not, but I think they can have a better showing. Playoff nerves are normal and we saw that early in this game with Cleveland racing past them.

The Magic shot 2-for-9 from three and 8-for-9 from the line. Nine free throw attempts is a lot but Orlando averaged a little over five in the opening quarter of games this season. They know how to get to the line and also shot 35.1 percent from three, which is better than the 22.2 percent they shot Saturday. Cleveland came out hot and rode that momentum, hitting 56.5 percent of their FGAs and 50 percent from three. Orlando should be better adjusted to start this game and I don't think the shooting can get much worse.

The Pick: Magic First Quarter +2.5 (-120 FanDuel)

*Picks and odds are subject to change throughout the day. Monitor your books for the best lines. 



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