Thursday NBA Betting Lines Analytics
NBA Game Odds Preview
By Dan Favale
The Utah Jazz are better than most people think. They have a top-three defense and sport a hyper-efficient offense that is only derided because it’s not aesthetically pleasing. They prefer to dictate the pace rather than play at lightning speeds. If they get you into a half-court slog, you’re in trouble, no matter who are.
Unless you’re the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Truthfully, the Jazz might be better served against the Golden State Warriors as opposed to the reigning champs. The Cavaliers’ half-court offense is fantastic. Kyrie Irving can make something out of nothing, and LeBron James will create kick-out three-point opportunities for his teammates regardless of how slow or fast he’s playing.
The coup de grace: The Jazz’s three-point defense has been average. That doesn’t bode well for them against a Cavaliers squad that ranks second in total three-point attempts, third in wide-open three-point attempts and second overall in three-point success rate.
The Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers (-6.5)
Without Kyle Lowry, the Toronto Raptors’ offense, as expected, has slipped. But they’ve picked up a their defense, which is a problem for an Oklahoma City Thunder team that does a nice job generating wide-open looks but a poor job of hitting those field-goal attempts.
Still, Russell Westbrook is a lightning rod, and the Thunder place in the top 10 of points allowed per 100 possession. This game should go down to the wire, and it’s more likely to end with an Oklahoma City victory than anything else.
The Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder (+2.5)
There’s no doubt the Memphis Grizzlies will want to exact revenge for the beating they suffered, at home, against an Atlanta Hawks team playing the tail end of a back-to-back on Saturday night.
But the Grizzlies are now playing the second night of a road-and-road back-to-back. It took everything they had to beat the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night. It’s unlikely they have enough left in their tank to dethrone a Hawks squad that, while inconsistent, is usually good for some stingy defensive stands.
The Pick: Atlanta Hawks (-4)
Yes, the Brooklyn Nets are the worst team in the NBA. Yes, the New York Knicks are working off an impressive win over the Indiana Pacers. Yes, the Knicks have been half-competent when playing at home.
But let’s not get carried away.
Fast teams who shoot a lot of threes are bad matchups for the Knicks. And the Nets rank fourth in three-point attempts and first possessions used per 48 minutes. Also, only the Houston Rockets generate more wide-open three-balls per game.
Pit this squad against a Knicks team that doesn’t play particularly fast or shoot a ton of threes, and they’ll more often than not exceed expectations. It helps the Nets even more that Kristaps Porzingis, who is dealing with a thigh injury, might not even play.
The Pick: Brooklyn Nets (+4)
It makes sense that the Denver Nuggets are favored here. The Los Angeles Clippers are still the better overall team, but they’re working off a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks from Wednesday night. Plus, the Nuggets have the NBA’s best offense, in terms of points scored per 100 possessions, since re-inserting Nikola Jokic into the starting five for good on Dec. 15.
Here’s the thing: The Nuggets have also posted the NBA’s worst defense during that time. Though the Clippers might be exhausted from their tightly contested matchup with the Bucks, they’ll have no problems scoring. So long as Chris Paul doesn’t lay another egg, as he did on Wednesday, Los Angeles will cover this spread.
The Pick: Los Angeles Clippers (+4)
The Warriors have not won a game by double digits since Kevin Durant suffered a sprained MCL versus the Wizards on Feb. 28. Stephen Curry is shooting 8-of-39 (20.5 percent) on wide-open threes since the All-Star break.
Neither of these streaks is going to last much longer. Bet on the Warriors to regain some of their swag against a perpetually listless Orlando Magic outfit.
The Pick: Golden State Warriors (-14)