Over the remainder of the NBA regular season, I’ll be doing full write-ups of each Thursday night NBA game. For those of you who don’t know, Thursday in the NBA is usually a light slate with two marquee games at 8pm and 1030pm Eastern on TNT. I’ll fully breakdowns my handicap on those games, as well as give picks for the entire Thursday night slate. These write-ups are meant to go hand-in-hand with our nightly SGP NBA picks, which you can find every day here. Please note that I am only able to use betting lines and injury information at the time of writing; I apologize if things change throughout the day. Lines provided by MyBookie.ag.
Boston Celtics @ Milwaukee Bucks (-5.5)
- 8pm EST, TNT.
- Boston Injuries: Gordon Hayward, Ankle (Game-Time Decision). Aron Baynes, Foot (Out).
- Milwaukee Injuries: Nikola Mirotic, Calf (Expected to Play).
What a matchup to kick things off. This is a great game between two of the best teams in the entire league, but until the Celtics prove differently, I think Milwaukee is just in a class of their own in the East for now, especially at home and especially during the regular season. Like the Rockets and Raptors last year, the Bucks are that team that is treating the regular season extremely seriously and looking to prove themselves every single night. They will treat this game like a playoff game. Boston, meanwhile, has just been too weird all season for me to back them in such a big spot; they are just 14-13 this year on the road and Milwaukee’s home crowd has the ability to rock.
On the court, these two teams played two immensely close games in Boston, splitting those matchups. While the Bucks don’t necessarily present “matchup problems” for the Celtics, they neutralize the matchup problems that Boston is usually able to create against most opponents. Brook Lopez is a very similar player to Al Horford right now and doesn’t present the same weaknesses that Joel Embiid or Marc Gasol might; the Bucks can match Boston with a variety of wings and, of course, no one in the league can matchup with the Freak from Greece.
Milwaukee is the new kid on the block in terms of the elite teams and will, quite frankly, care about this game much more than Boston. Add in the fact that they are just the better team and I love the Bucks at home here. The Bucks are 8-1 ATS in their last 9, 4-1 straight up in their last 5 at home against Boston (including last year’s playoff series), and have been the best against the spread team in the league all year. I see no reason for that to change tonight. Milwaukee, and Giannis in particular, come out looking for blood here and take it to the Celtics. Bucks -5.5.
Houston Rockets (-3.5) @ Los Angeles Lakers
- 1030pm EST, TNT.
- Houston Injuries: Clint Capela, Thumb (Game-Time Decision/Expected to Play). Austin Rivers, Elbow (Game-Time Decision).
- Los Angeles Injuries: Josh Hart, Knee (Probable). Mike Muscala, Ankle (Probable). Tyson Chandler, Neck (Questionable).
This is another fantastic matchup… wow. We’re going to get Lebron, at home, in “playoff activated” mode vs. this Rockets team that should be getting star center Clint Capela back for the home-stretch. This line has jumped around a bit with the Capela injury news being up in the air, but has settled down now with the Lakers as a short home dog. Houston has won 5 straight against this Lakers team, and without Lonzo Ball, the Lakers don’t have a legitimate option to cover James Harden. I expect these two teams to put up a ton of points as a dialed-in Lebron should have no problem picking apart a weak Rockets defense, while the Lakers just aren’t a good defensive team.
James Harden should feast tonight, and so should Lebron. This game could come largely down to who is able to hit shots when those two primary creators kick the ball out to three-point shooters. I’m feeling a huge shooting game from Kyle Kuzma tonight.
This feels like a weirdly big game for the Lakers. They completely botched the trade deadline and have had dark clouds swirling over the franchise for the last couple of weeks. Do they find a way out of the storm tonight? I think they do. Lebron is still Lebron and I am going to take him at his word that he’s ready to go for the rest of the season. Handicapping motivation is one of the most challenging parts of NBA betting and I look forward to seeing the respective effort levels from these two teams tonight. With 67% of the bets on Houston, I’m looking to play on the contrarian home dog here tonight. Keep it close and then let’s hope Lebron can take us home late. I’ll take our chances with that. Lakers +3.5.
Phoenix (-1) @ Cleveland: I’m not not worried for you if you bet this game. Two tanking teams, two awful teams. I’ll go with the home dog Cavs here, just because it’s appalling to me that Phoenix is a road favorite to anyone in America. Cavs +1.
Miami @ Philly (-6): Philadelphia will not have Joel Embiid tonight. Call me crazy but I like this Sixers team a lot more without him. Ben Simmons surrounded by shooters is one of the most dangerous concepts in the NBA and I absolutely love the idea of JJ-Tobias-Jimmy-Ben with another shooter… that floor is going to be insanely spaced. I love the Sixers here and think they put up 120+ in front of their home crowd. Sixers -6.
Portland (-2.5) @ Brooklyn: Damian Lillard is questionable right now, so keep an eye on that injury before betting this game. The Nets have been super-frisky at home this season and I can’t resist taking them as a dog here. There’s something about these Nets and I think they look to come out hot to start the post-all-star-break stretch run here. With Damian Lillard questionable, even if he does play, I think Brooklyn has the energy to outlast the road Blazers here. Allen Crabbe revenge game anyone? Nets +2.5 (and if Lillard plays you’ll probably get a point or two more value. I like it regardless).
Sacramento @ Golden State (-12.5): Look, you’re clearly paying a premium to bet on Golden State here. The Kings aren’t great, but they’re certainly not tanking either. They’ve played two extremely close games with Golden State so far this season and have the youth and energy to get under the Warriors’ skin. They will not lay down. This is just way too many points and I love the Kings here, especially given that most of the Warriors either played on all-star weekend and/or were all about “getting away from basketball” over the all-star break. Kings +12.5.