Free NBA Picks: Our Best Bets for January 5

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Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards. Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP

Today’s betting card has a lot to offer. Let’s go through my favorite plays. Top sportsbooks have released their NBA odds for tonight’s NBA action. Three games, in particular, interest me as worth investing in Houston vs. Washington, Golden State vs. Dallas, and Toronto vs. Milwaukee. For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread in the first game and the total in the latter two contests.

Houston Rockets vs. Washington Wizards

Wednesday, January 5, 2022 – 7:00 PM EST at Capital One Arena

Houston's ATS Losing Streak 

We could hardly capture a team in a bigger rut than the one Houston finds itself in. Currently, the Rockets are suffering an eight-game ATS losing streak. The "over" has also hit at an unusually consistent rate in their games. But know for your best bets that the Rocket offense is unreliable tonight for match-up-related reasons.

Rocket Offense vs. Wizard Defense 

On offense, Houston relies primarily on shooting threes. The Rockets attempt the fifth-most threes per game and have been attempting even more threes than usual in their most recent games. They need to shoot a lot of threes because their defense concedes so many points that, in order to keep pace, they need to attempt more threes than twos.

This emphasis on the three-point shooting is also by design because Houston has chosen to stock itself with shooting guards. But Washington is very close to being the worst possible matchup for this Rocket offense.

The Wizards are nearly the best team at running opponents off the three-point line. They rank second at limiting opposing three-point attempts. Moreover, they allow the lowest frequency of wide-open three-point attempts.

Against Washington, Houston will not produce the type of scoring opportunities that it relies on most.

Houston's Awful Defense 

The Rocket defense cannot stop anybody: it has allowed 120 points or more in five straight games.
It is not like Houston is dealing with offensive juggernauts. Denver, for example, ranks 23rd in the scoring offense -- after facing Houston -- but scored 124 points against the Rockets.

Washington's offense has not shown any such functional problems and is in good form. When Houston allows 120+ again tonight, it creates a uniquely large margin of error for Washington to cover the spread. Thus, expect Washington to cover the spread by a significant margin for your NBA picks.

NBA Pick: Wizards -7 (-108) with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Wizards -7 (-108)
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Golden State Warriors vs. Dallas Mavericks 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022 - 7:30 PM EST at American Airlines Center 

Dallas' Strong Defense 

The Maverick defense is in great shape right now. Four straight Maverick opponents have failed to sniff 100 points. Since the over/under in Maverick games, for some reason, continues to be well above 200, the "under" is hitting consistently.

Perimeter Defense 

Perimeter defense is especially important when facing Golden State. Obviously, Stephen Curry likes to shoot a lot of threes. But the Warrior offense is not simply Stephen. Overall, the Warriors attempt the third-most threes per game.

They match up poorly against a Maverick defense that is fourth-best at limiting opposing three-point attempts. Dallas likes to funnel opposing would-be shooters to its rim protectors, especially Maxi Kleber.

Dallas' Offensive Problems 

Unlike Dallas', Golden State's perimeter defense has its problems. But, while the Warriors do allow way too many wide-open three-point attempts, Dallas lacks the personnel to exploit this vulnerability.

No Maverick player who attempts at least one three per game converts even 38 percent of his opportunities from behind the arc. Golden State has had one of the best defenses all year and a Maverick offense that has already looked broken from the beginning of the season lacks the personnel to exploit a rare Warrior defensive weakness.

NBA Pick: Under 213 (-110) with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Under 213 (-110)
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Toronto Raptors vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Wednesday, January 5, 2022 - 8:00 PM EST at Fiserv Forum 

Key Absences

Milwaukee will miss Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton tonight because both players have entered COVID protocols. Observe for your sports betting that both players are important because of their shooting ability. 

Allen attempts the most threes per game on the team and converts them at a solid 38.9-percent rate. Connaughton attempts one fewer three per game than Allen but is slightly more efficient. Without these two, and without the already injured floor-spacer Brook Lopez, Milwaukee is limited in its shooting capacity tonight.

This limitation is important because three-point shooting is a crucial part of the Buck offense. Whether through floor-spacing or drive-and-kicking especially from Giannis, Milwaukee really wants to shoot threes. The Bucks attempt the fourth-most threes per game.

Normally, they could absolutely exploit what is a weakness of Toronto's defense, which is its ability to defend the perimeter and limit favorable three-point opportunities. However, they are missing key players to help them in this endeavor.

The Raptors would love to use the extra missed baskets off three-point attempts to spark their transition game, which is a relatively prominent part of their offense. While they attempt transition baskets at the second-highest rate, though, Milwaukee allows the ninth-lowest points in transition.

Plus, the Buck defense has been good about buckling down after losing as the favored team. After an embarrassing loss to Detroit, Milwaukee's defense will be locked in.

NBA Pick: Under 225.5 (-108) with Heritage Sports

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Under 225.5 (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.