NBA Best Bets Today: Predictions for Knicks, Suns, Thunder and Kyrie Irving on MLK Day

New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett.
New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett. / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA will honor the great Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday in what is one of the best days for any basketball fan, as we have a 12-game slate that begins at 12:30 p.m. EST this afternoon.

I’ll be glued to several different games today, and while I was tempted to bet on them all, I have narrowed it down to these picks for the NBA Best Bets column. 

Yes, I’m backing the New York Knicks again, but find out why there is one road underdog and road favorite that I also like in today’s loaded slate of action. 

All odds courtesy of WynnBET Sportsbook.

NBA Best Bets Record to Date

  • NBA Best Bets Record: 91-96-2

NBA Best Bets Today

  • New York Knicks Moneyline vs. Charlotte Hornets (-115)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder +11.5 vs. Dallas Mavericks (-105)
  • Phoenix Suns -4.5 vs. San Antonio Spurs (-110)
  • Kyrie Irving OVER 22.5 Points (-110)

Charlotte Hornets vs. New York Knicks: Knicks Moneyline (-115)

On the Bet & Breakfast podcast, I broke down why I liked the Knicks moneyline in this game, and the line has moved to New York -1, making this an even easier bet to make on the Knicks to win. 

The Knicks have finally gotten back to what they know best since getting most of their roster out of the health and safety protocols on Christmas Day. 

New York is 8-3 straight up and against the spread since Christmas, and it has done it by posting the No. 2 defensive rating in the NBA over that stretch. After trying to rely on their offense more earlier in the season, the Knicks have gone back to what worked last season to find success: slow pace and mucking things up on defense. 

New York is playing the slowest pace in the NBA (92.91) since Christmas, and it’s helped it play to its strengths on both ends of the floor. The Hornets love to push the pace, but they don’t play much defense, ranking 26th in defensive rating this season. 

I think the Knicks stick with what has worked and make Charlotte play in the half court, something it doesn't want to do very often. I’m going to ride with New York staying hot as Tom Thibodeau has figured out how to best use this roster. 

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Dallas Mavericks: Thunder +11.5 (-105)

The Mavericks have posted the best defensive rating in the NBA over their last 11 games, and they’re going to have a chance to shut down the Thunder, who rank 29th in the NBA in offensive rating this season. 

Simply put, the Mavericks have been great recently, but they are facing the team that is No. 2 in the NBA against the spread this season. 

OKC is 27-14-1 against the spread in the 2021-22 season and an impressive 8-4 against the spread as a double-digit underdog this season. 

The Thunder have kept their last three losses all within five points, and they even upset the Brooklyn Nets (without Kevin Durant) last week.

As good as Dallas has been defensively, I think this is a spot to sell high rather than laying the points with Luka Doncic and company. 

Phoenix Suns vs. San Antonio Spurs: Suns -4.5 (-110)

The Suns have been rolling as of late, winning three straight and blowing out the Indiana Pacers and Pistons in consecutive games. 

Phoenix is also great in this spot this season, as it is 10-6 against the spread as a road favorite. The Spurs have been one of my favorite teams to bet on this season, as they are 23-20 against the spread, but I’m not sure I can get to this number on Monday. 

Even on a back-to-back, the Suns shouldn’t be too tired considering how badly they beat Detroit on Sunday. Losing Deandre Ayton (ankle sprain) is tough, but JaVale McGee and Jalen Smith have filled in for him at other points this season. Phoenix is 11-3 without Ayton this season. 

I’ll lay the points with the Suns, as I think their defense (No. 2 in the NBA) is just too strong to have them only favored by 4.5. 

Kyrie Irving OVER 22.5 Points (-110)

The Brooklyn Nets will be without Kevin Durant for four-to-six weeks, and I think that means we’re going to see the Kyrie Irving breakout begin on the road against the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Irving is averaging just 17.7 points per game through his first three games this season, but he scored 22 in each of his first two outings with Durant in the lineup. 

James Harden has been the primary facilitator when these two play together, so I think Irving takes more of Durant’s scoring load in this game, especially since he’s only playing on the road. Don’t be surprised if Kyrie torches his former team and shows that he still is an All-Star caliber player when on the floor.