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The NBA is on the backburner Thursday with start of the Sweet 16 in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. However, I’m a hoops handicapping junkie and almost never take a night off betting the Association.
I split my written NBA bets 1-1 Wednesday but went 3-1 in the NBA Hoops At Lunch show on the OutKick Bets Podcast feed. My three Thursday looks are sides for the Knicks-Magic and thunder-Clippers games and a player prop in Cavs-Nets.
(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).
New York Knicks (42-32) at Orlando Magic (30-43), 7 p.m. ET
The Knicks are 2-0 straight up (SU) and against the spread (ATS) vs. the Magic this season. NYK lost to the Heat 127-120 in Miami Thursday and have dropped two straight games.
Orlando is 3-3 SU and 5-1 ATS over the last six games with the most recent being a 122-112 home win over the Washington Wizards Tuesday.
I have two pro-Knicks angles that give them value Thursday: NYK’s strong performance on the 2nd of a back-to-back (B2B) and as road favorites.
The market underrates NYK in the 2nd of a B2B because coach Tom Thibodeau is known for playing his starters a lot of minutes. But, the Knicks are 6-3-2 ATS with no rest this season and 22-7-2 ATS in their last 31 games played on zero rest.
Second, New York beats who its supposed to beat. The Knicks are an NBA-best 8-2 ATS as road favorites with a +9.5 SU margin and +6.8 spread differential.
Furthermore, the Magic’s offense cannot keep up with the Knicks. Orlando is 26th in offensive rating and NYK is 5th. In their B2B losses entering Thursday, the Knicks scored 120 and 134 points.
Orlando has the 2nd-worst wide-open defensive 3-point-attempt rate and doesn’t close out on 3-point shooters. New York has hit at least 42.9% of its 3-pointers in three of the past four games.
NBA Best Bet #1: Knicks -3.5 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -4.5
Oklahoma City Thunder (36-36) at Los Angeles Clippers (38-35), 10:30 p.m. ET
This is a simple zig-zag theory play since the Clippers lost in the front-end of their B2B vs. the Thunder Tuesday, 101-100, in LA. The Clippers were -6.5 favorites in that game and this line has dropped too far.
Granted, LAC will be without 2nd-leading scorer Paul George who exited the Thunder-Clippers game Tuesday with a scary leg injury.
However, as much as I like George, he isn’t worth 2.5 points. Especially with LAC’s depth and how well Kawhi Leonard has played post-All-Star break. The Clippers score the 3rd-most bench PPG.
Leonard is averaging 29.2 points per game on 54.9% shooting (50.9% from behind the arc). Kawhi will bounce-back from an off-game vs. OKC Tuesday where he scored just 21 points on 43.8% shooting.
The sharper minds in the betting market are taking LAC based on the zig-zag theory while the public is overreacting to the previous Clippers-Thunder meeting.
Per VSIN, more than 60% of the money is on LAC whereas more bets have been placed on OKC. Typically, you want to follow the cash column when it’s counter to the public since pros place bigger bets than your average Joes.
NBA Best Bet #2: Clippers -4 (-110) at DraftKings, up to -5
Player Prop: Cavaliers C Jarrett Allen 12.5 Points vs. Nets
- Over 12.5 points: -125
- UNDER 12.5 POINTS: -105
Allen’s primary defender, Nets C Nic Claxton, is one of the best defensive bigs in the NBA. According to CleaningTheGlass.com, Brooklyn is 5th in defensive field goal percentage vs. shots at the rim and 1st vs. all mid-range attempts.
In his two games this season vs. the Nets, Allen scored 10 points on 40.0% shooting on Dec. 26 and 12 points on 45.5% shooting Tuesday. Allen isn’t an outside shooter so Claxton’s elite paint protection gives him issues.
Finally, there are a lot of mouths to feed in Cleveland’s offense and Allen is the 4th option. Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland have by far the highest usage rates on the Cavs. Allen is 10th in usage rate in Cleveland.
NBA Best Bet #3: Cavaliers C Jarrett Allen UNDER 12.5 points scored (-105) at DraftKings
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