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The NBA gambling gods taketh then giveth right back. After suffering one of the most disgusting beats of my NBA season Tuesday, Kristaps Porzingis got one back by hitting a 3-pointer to cash my Wizards +4 bet vs. the Hawks Wednesday.
Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come. I’m taking aim at a few games in this otherwise garbage Thursday NBA card. Below, I’ll explain my pick for Jazz-Magic, Warriors-Grizzlies and Knicks-Kings.
BUYER BEWARE: We are in the NBA’s “load management” and “tanking” eras. It might be best to wait until the final injury reports are released before placing a bet.
You can listen to the audio versions of these handicaps on my NBA Hoops At Lunch show on the OutKick Bets Podcast feed Monday-Friday.
Utah Jazz (31-35) at Orlando Magic (27-39), 7 p.m. ET
Utah could be without three starters/rotation players. Jazz SG Jordan Clarkson and rookie big Walker Kessler are both “questionable” to play and G Collin Sexton has been ruled out.
Their replacements include rookies PF Simone Fontecchio and SG Ochai Agbaji and Lakers flameout SG Talen Horton-Tucker (THT). Utah literally doesn’t have a point guard and its offense has been awful lately.
Over the last five games, the Jazz are 28th offensive rating in the NBA. Utah’s last five opponents include the Mavericks, Thunder (twice), and Spurs (twice). Those teams rank 23rd, 30th and 18th in defensive rating on the season.
Even with All-Star Lauri Markkanen, the Jazz have one of the worst starting 5s in the NBA currently. THT is turnover-prone and cannot shoot, I’ve never heard of Fontecchio and I’m neutral on Agbaji.
Utah beat Orlando 112-108 at home in their 1st meeting this season on Jan. 13 and failed to cover -5. This was before the Jazz traded guards Mike Conley and Malik Beasley and wing Jarred Vanderbilt.
Generally, you want to back Utah as underdogs and fade Orlando has favorites. But, the Magic have no reason to tank and it feels like the Jazz are closing up shop.
NBA Best Bet #1: Magic -3 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -4
Golden State Warriors (34-32) at Memphis Grizzlies (38-26), 7:30 p.m. ET
The Grizzlies cannot stop running their mouths and it’s going to cost them again vs. the Warriors Thursday. Memphis wing Dillon Brooks talked smack about Draymond Green who “clapped back” earlier this week.
You’d think they would’ve learned their lesson from Christmas when Golden State smacked Memphis 123-109 at home without Steph Curry. Earlier in December, Ja Morant said he wasn’t afraid of anyone in the West, incurring the Warriors’ wrath.
The Grizzlies will be without two starters (Morant and C Steven Adams) and the Warriors have everyone except SF Andrew Wiggins, whose absence is significant.
Granted, Golden State is garbage on the road and backing Memphis at home has been profitable this season. The Warriors are 8-23 against the spread (ATS) in away games and the Grizzlies are 19-11-1 ATS at home.
But, Golden State will obviously be at peak-motivation and Memphis is short-handed. That’s really all I need to get to the betting window on the Warriors.
NBA Best Bet #2: Warriors -2.5 (-110) at DraftKings, up to -3.5
New York Knicks (39-28) at Sacramento Kings (38-26), 10 p.m. ET
Knicks 1st-year PG Jalen Brunson has been sidelined for two games with a sprained ankle but I anticipate him returning Thursday. Brunson almost played vs. Charlotte Tuesday and didn’t because it’s the Hornets.
New York preferred not to rush Brunson back and instead of him ready for the 4-game West Coast road swing starting Thursday in Sacramento. That’s my guess at least.
The Knicks had their 9-game winning streak (8-0-1 ATS) snapped in a 112-105 loss to the Hornets. It was clear New York was missing Brunson who organizes the offense and removes the turnovers.
The Kings are having an awesome season under 1st-year coach Mike Brown but still cannot play any defense. Sacramento is 25th in non-garbage defensive rating, per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG).
NYK is 15-7 straight up (SU) vs. bottom-10 defenses with a +5.9 adjusted net rating (ranked 8th) and a +2.5 ATS margin (7th). Also, the Knicks are 13-10 SU and 15-8 ATS as road underdogs this season.
The Knicks are 2nd in drives per game and the Kings have a weak interior defense. Sactown gives up the 3rd-most paint points per game and ranks 27th in defensive field goal percentage vs. shots at the rim, per CTG.
New York beat the brakes off Sactown at home in their 1st meeting this season on Dec. 11. The Kings were missing All-Star PG De’Aaron Fox and the Knicks were at full strength.
But, the Knicks were just 8-for-35 from 3 and scored 58 paint points, which would be the worst mark in the NBA over a full season.
Since the All-Star break, NYK is shooting 40.0% from behind the arc. As long as NYK attacks the rim, they should get good looks from 3.
NBA Best Bet #3: Knicks +2.5 (-110) at DraftKings, down to +1.5
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