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The NBA only scheduled six games Thursday featuring an NBA on TNT primetime doubleheader between the New York Knicks at Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns hosting the Dallas Mavericks.
Not only do I have action in both Knicks-Celtics and Mavericks-Suns but I’m also taking a shot at a player prop in the Chicago Bulls at Charlotte Hornets game.
You can listen to the audio versions of these handicaps on my recently launched NBA Hoops At Lunch show on the OutKick Bets Podcast feed Monday-Friday.
(Word to the wise: It’s the “load management” era in the NBA and random injury news. NBA players are sitting out more games. It would behoove you to wait until the final injury reports before betting.)
New York Knicks (26-23) at Boston Celtics (35-14)
Boston pasted NYK 133-118 in their first meeting this season on October 5. But, the Knicks were still ironing out their rotations and assimilating to first-year PG Jalen Brunson taking over the offense.
NYK starting SG Quentin Grimes and big Mitchell Robinson were both sidelined with injuries for that game and Knicks backup combo Immanuel Quickley didn’t have as big of a role yet.
Granted, Robinson is out again with an injury but so is Celtics starting PG, and reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Smart. Robinson’s and Smart’s absences cancel each other out.
The Celtics beat the Knicks in three of the four quarters but they split the “four factors” and NYK won the possession battle: Rebounds and turnovers.
Furthermore, Knicks All-Star Julius Randle scored 29 points on 52.6% shooting with 9 rebounds. NYK SF R.J. Barrett put up 27 points on 60.0% shooting. Brunson added 22 points on 58.8% shooting with 10 assists and 0 turnovers.
Also, both teams were on the second of a back-to-back and the Celtics perform better in those spots. Boston is 7-1 straight up (SU) and 6-2 against the spread (ATS) on zero rest days. Whereas NYK is 3-4 SU and 3-3-1 ATS.
Finally, the Knicks have been profitable on the road this season. NYK are an NBA-best 16-8 against the spread (ATS) in away games with a +3.0 ATS margin.
NBA Best Bet #1: Knicks +8.5 (-115) at DraftKings Sportsbook, down to +7.5
Dallas Mavericks (25-24) at Phoenix Suns (25-24)
Mavericks-Suns are split 1-1 SU so far this season but Dallas has covered both. The Suns rallied back from a double-digit deficit in their first game vs. the Mavs but got waxed in the second.
That said, I get the vibe that the Suns are considered a disappointment while the Mavericks are right where they should be with Luka Doncic playing at an MVP-caliber.
But, Phoenix is better than Dallas by non-garbage time net rating (per CleaningTheGlass.com), net rating and SRS, which accounts for point-per-game margin and strength of schedule (per Basketball Reference).
Mavericks-Suns is a Pros vs. Joes game in the betting market. Per Pregame.com, more than 60% of the bets placed are on Dallas. While more than 90% of the money is on Phoenix at the time of writing.
Typically, the cash column of the betting splits is considered the sharp side of the market because professional wager a lot more dough than you or I.
Also, Chris Paul returned to action two games ago and has looked good. He is averaging 18.0 points per game (PPG) on 51.9% shooting with 5.5 rebounds and 11.0 assists on just 2.5 turnovers.
Aside from last year in the playoffs, CP3 has pretty much owned Luka in the regular season. CP3’s teams are 8-1 SU vs. Luka and Co.
Doncic is shooting just 41.7% from the field in those games (23.0% from behind the arc). Luka has a mediocre 6.6-to-3.8 assist-to-turnover ratio.
Dallas plays subpar defense vs. ball handlers in the pick-and-roll (PNR) and CP3’s PnR action is goated. The Mavs are also weak defending mid-range jumpers and that’s where the Suns excel offensively.
Don’t sleep on the return of Phoenix stretch-4 Cameron Johnson. He leads the Suns in non-garbage time on/off net rating, per CleaningTheGlass.com, and helps Phoenix’s floor-spacing.
Lastly, the Suns are 15-10 ATS at home this season and the Mavericks are an NBA-worst 7-16 ATS on the road with a -5.1 ATS margin.
NBA Best Bet #2: Suns moneyline (-120) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -130 before laying up to -3 with Phoenix
Chicago Bulls (22-25) at Charlotte Hornets (13-36)
If I had to play a side in this game it would be Chicago but, instead, I’m looking at a player prop in Bulls-Hornets. Specifically, Chicago stretch-4 Patrick Williams‘ OVER 1.5 made 3-pointers (-115).
Williams has sunk at least two 3-pointers in nine of his 11 games in January and went 2-of-3 from behind the arc in his first game vs. Charlotte this season on Nov. 2.
He is shooting 42.2% from 3-point land this season because he’s mostly the odd-man out in Chicago’s offense. The Bulls have two elite scorers in DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine and big Nikola Vucevic also gets plays ran for him.
Williams is your standard 3-and-D guy. Charlotte’s defense has the seventh-highest volume of wide-open 3-point-attempt rate allowed (3PAr) and Chicago has an above-average wide-open 3PAr allowed.
(Proceed with caution: I much prefer sides and total than player props so I’d only wager a half-unit at most on Williams go to Over 1.5 made threes. Also, Williams shoots better at home but that’s to be expected.)
NBA Best Bet #3: Bulls PF Patrick Williams OVER 1.5 made 3-pointers (-115) at DraftKings Sportsbook
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