Best NBA bets for Thursday
NBA free betting tips & advice
By Dan Favale
Washington Wizards (-5.5) vs. Denver Nuggets (+5.5)
Anyone who has followed the Denver Nuggets of late knows they haven’t been very good. In fact, they have been downright terrible.
Wednesday night was a culmination of that awfulness. The Nuggets lost to the Brooklyn Nets, one of the league’s worst teams. Though they fought back in the fourth quarter, they trailed by 20-plus points and looked utterly lethargic at points.
Head coach Mike Malone isn’t someone who will stand for that long term, and you can already tell he’s playing the guys who work their asses off, such as veteran Jameer Nelson.
The Washington Wizards have also been bad, and while you should expect them to win this game, this matchup will be the battle of two struggling squads trying to find themselves. The point differential will not be that big.
The Pick: Denver Nuggets (+5.5)
Toronto Raptors (-8) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (+8)
The Minnesota Timberwolves are winning the award for “Team that looks really good on paper but isn’t actually that good in real life.” It’s not a distinction you want to earn, but it at least nods to the fact they could explode on any given night.
Thursday night won’t be that night.
For one, the Timberwolves haven’t yet worked through their second-half issues. And more than that, the Toronto Raptors’ offense is really good. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan should carve up Minnesota early and often, allowing the Raptors to pull away from the jump.
The Pick: Toronto Raptors (-8)
Memphis Grizzlies (PK) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (PK)
You can look at this pick ’em one of two ways: The injury-depleted Memphis Grizzlies are just that resilient, or the slumping Portland Trail Blazers are just that bad.
To be honest, this line is probably a combination of the two. The Grizzlies will be without Mike Conley, Chandler Parsons and Brandan Wright, in addition to probably being without James Ennis and Vince Carter. Any quality team would steamroll their skeleton crew.
Only, the Blazers aren’t a quality team. Adding Evan Turner hasn’t helped their offense or defense. He looks out of place in the worst way. The Blazers are also working off a Wednesday night road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. They may not have the energy to battle the physical Grizzlies.
Nevertheless, we roll with Portland, which should have enough gas in the tank to beat a Memphis squad that is down too many key players.
The Pick: Portland Trail Blazers
New Orleans Pelicans (-9) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (+9)
It’s true that the New Orleans Pelicans have looked a lot better with Jrue Holiday in the fold. It’s also true that the Philadelphia 76ers have lost eight straight games and have been particularly putrid on the road, checking in at 0-7 away from the City of Brotherly Love entering Thursday night.
But the Pelicans aren’t great. The Joel Embiid-Anthony Davis matchup will be closer than people think, and the Sixers have lost a lot of their recent games by single-digit deficits. Bank on this one being closer than most others realize.
The Pick: Philadelphia 76ers (+9)
Utah Jazz (+7.5) vs. Golden State Warriors (-7.5)
This matchup would have been fun if every team was trotting out its full cast. But injuries have ripped through the Utah Jazz, who may be the only team in the NBA capable of flipping the Golden State Warriors’ play style on top of its own head, while Steve Kerr has already said he’ll probably rest some guys.
If this becomes a battle of which team is better with a skeleton crew, the Warriors will still win. But the Jazz are a scrappy bunch. If Golden State sits even two of its stars, count on Utah to cover this spread.
The Pick: Utah Jazz (+7.5)
Chicago Bulls (+4) vs. San Antonio Spurs (-4)
The San Antonio Spurs are undefeated on the road. The Chicago Bulls are overrated.
The Spurs have a truly dangerous offense. The Bulls do not.
The Spurs have underachieved on the defensive end but still rank in the top 12 of defensive efficiency. The Bulls don’t thrive on the less glamorous end.
You know what to do.
The Pick: San Antonio Spurs (-4)
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