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The NBA rightfully steps aside for MLB’s Opening Day and only scheduled two games Thursday. However, the NBA on TNT primetime doubleheader is intriguing. Actually, who knows.
I’m sure someone will randomly decide to “load manage”. Regardless, I’ll have the NBA on one of my TVs Thursday and will be betting both the Celtics-Bucks and Pelicans-Nuggets.
(BUYER BEWARE: We are in the NBA’s “load management” and “tanking” eras. It’s best to wait until the final injury reports come out before placing a bet).
Boston Celtics (52-24) at Milwaukee Bucks (55-21), 7:30 p.m. ET
Milwaukee has a chance to all but clinch home-court advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over Boston Thursday. The Bucks are 3 games up on the Celtics with six remaining.
Celtics-Bucks are tied 1-1 in their season series thus far so the winner would clinch 1st-place out East in a tiebreaker scenario. Plus this is a “good spot” for the Bucks.
They have a clean injury report whereas Celtics big Robert Williams III is “questionable” to play Thursday. Without Williams out there, Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to rip apart Boston’s interior defense.
Furthermore, Milwaukee is 13-3 straight up (SU) with a +6.6 SU margin as favorites of -3 or less this season and 6-1 SU at home in those spots with a +8.1 SU margin.
This is the 2nd of a back-to-back for the Bucks who smacked the Indiana Pacers 149-136 Wednesday. Milwaukee is 9-2 SU when playing on zero rest days with a +6.0 SU margin.
NBA Best Bet #2: Bucks (-135) moneyline at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -140 before laying up to -3 with Milwaukee
New Orleans Pelicans (38-38) at Denver Nuggets (51-24), 10 p.m. ET
Per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), the Pelicans lead the NBA in adjusted defensive rating over the past two weeks and the Nuggets are 6th. During that span, New Orleans is 1-6 Over/Under (O/U) and Denver is 0-6 O/U.
The Nuggets have one of the best offenses in the NBA. But, when they aren’t shooting well, their style is more Under-friendly. Denver is 25th in 3-point attempts per game and 23rd in pace.
NOLA is also a reluctant 3-point shooting team (28th in 3-point attempts per game) and neither team will attempt many free throws.
Denver is 24th in offensive free-throw rate but 9th in defensive free-throw rate. The assigned officiating crew for Pelicans-Nuggets has a combined 63-70 O/U record this season.
Also, Nuggets F Aaron Gordon is one of the best defensive wings in the NBA and the perfect guy to guard elite Pelicans scorer, Brandon Ingram.
Finally, there’s a decent chance that Nikola Jokic misses Thursday. Jokic is “questionable” to play with calf soreness and the Nuggets head to Phoenix Friday to play the Suns.
NBA Best Bet #2: UNDER 226.5 in Pelicans-Nuggets at DraftKings, down to 226
Listen to the ‘OutKick Bets with Geoff Clark’ podcast HERE.
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