Paying attention to the NBA schedule, and an Australian Open upset: Best Bets for Jan. 27

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Cleveland Cavaliers' Darius Garland (10) and Donovan Mitchell (45) hug during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. Cleveland beat Phoenix 112-98. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here are our best bets for Friday, Jan. 27:

TOP PLAY

The play: NBA, Thunder -1.5 over Cavaliers

The odds: -120

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 8 p.m. (NBA League Pass)

Our take: People tend to underestimate the impact of schedule when they bet NBA regular season. Sure, you know it’s more difficult to play on a back-to-back, but do you know how much more difficult? That challenge is increased when both games are on the road, which is the situation the Cavs face in this one.

Cleveland also likely will be without star guard Donovan Mitchell, who has a groin injury, and they won the first half of their back-to-back Thursday night in Houston. That means they can return home with a win on this road trip even if they don’t push it tonight.

Oklahoma City, on the other hand, is just a half-game out of the play-in tournament spots in the Western Conference and has been surprisingly competitive. The Thunder had Thursday night off and lost a frustrating game Wednesday to Atlanta and is off after this one until another home game Monday. All of that means OKC can afford to put its full attention on this game. Not to mention, the Thunder’s home record is 14-10, while the Cavs are just 10-15 on the road.

There’s a reason a 23-25 team is favored over a 30-20 one, and it’s the schedule. Don’t lose sight of it.

AUSSIE OPEN UPSET

The play: Australian Open women’s final, Elena Rybakina over Aryna Sabalenka

The odds: +106

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 3:30 a.m. Saturday (ESPN)

Our take: Only diehard tennis fans will be up to watch this one, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth betting on.

The Australian Open is down to the finals, and while the men’s match features a whale in Novak Djokovic, the women’s singles championship is between two players with a combined one Grand Slam title. That belongs to Elena Rybakina, who won last year’s Wimbledon.

But that experience is just one edge Rybakina has here against Aryna Sabalenka, who is playing in her first Grand Slam final. Both players are big servers, but Rybakina has less of a problem with double faults, the type of free points that can swing a close match like this.

Sabalenka is ranked higher and has won all three head-to-head matches. But all three went the full three sets, and Rybakina has the type of experience that could make a difference and cause a mild upset here.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Thursday’s best bet

NBA: Suns -1 vs. Mavericks (LOST)

Thursday’s record: 0-1

Total for the week: 1-6

Total for January: 21-28

Total for 2023: 21-28

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, a $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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