Thursday NBA Playoff Betting Picks (Aug. 20): Our Favorite Bets For Thunder vs. Rockets and Magic vs. Bucks

Credit:

Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images. Pictured: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks fouls Nikola Vucevic #9 of the Orlando Magic.

Thursday’s NBA playoffs slate features both No. 1 seeds seeking to bounce back after shocking losses in Game 1. The other two Game 2s on today’s slate feature matchups between 4- and 5-seeds in the East and West.

Where’s the value today? Our staff is here to break down their favorite NBA bets for Thursday’s slate and has found angles in two of the four games:

  • 3:30 p.m. ET: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets
  • 6 p.m. ET: Orlando Magic vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Thursday NBA Betting Picks


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Matt LaMarca: Magic vs. Bucks

Magic odds -13 [BET NOW]
Bucks odds +13 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +700/-1000 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 227.5 [BET NOW]
Time 6 p.m. ET
TV ESPN 

I think this is an awesome bounce-back spot to target the Bucks.

Maybe their defense just isn’t as good in the bubble, but it’s much more likely that it was a fluky performance from the Magic.

Regardless of what happens defensively, the Bucks should definitely improve on the offensive end of the court. Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and Brook Lopez combined to shoot 34.4% from the field and 20.0% from 3-point range in Game 1. That puts that trio well below their season average in terms of scoring and efficiency.

The Bucks also got crushed in the free throw battle in their last game, which should normalize moving forward. Milwaukee went 18-for-28 from the line (64.3%) while Orlando was 18-for-19 (94.7%).

Additionally, the Bucks qualify for a solid betting trend in Game 2. No. 1 seeds have historically posted a mark of 31-23-1 against the spread when coming off a loss in the first round. That’s good for a 57.4% cover rate. Big favorites like Milwaukee have also found success using this trend: Teams favored by at least 10 points have gone 9-5 ATS.

I’m expecting the Bucks to remind everyone why they are one of the title favorites in this contest.

The Pick: Bucks -13 (play up to -13.5) 

[Bet $20+ on the Bucks at PointsBet and Win $125 if they have at least one dunk]


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Brandon Anderson: Thunder vs. Rockets

Thunder odds +2 [BET NOW]
Rockets odds -2 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +114/-134 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 225.5 [BET NOW]
Time 3:30 p.m. ET
TV ESPN

Heading into the first round, I was most intrigued by the matchup between Houston and Oklahoma City. On the one hand, you have pace and space, efficiency pushed to the extreme and beyond, and two superstars surrounded by a bunch of nobodies.

On the other sideline, you’ve got a slow and methodical team’s team, a dynamic five-man lineup that all does their part without a dominant superstar. I was intrigued because of the stylistic clash.

But my gut instinct was that the intrigue here wouldn’t necessarily lead to a great series, or to seven games. I wondered which style would win and wondered if that style would lead to dominance and a quick series.

And in the end, I picked the Rockets because I worried that Houston’s style would prevail against a team with no option to stop James Harden, no way to keep Steven Adams on the court defensively, and not enough iso scoring to punish Houston’s defense. And all of those fears were exactly how Game 1 played out.

I don’t know that Houston is the better team. Both of these teams are very good. But Houston sure looks like the better team in this particular matchup, even without Russell Westbrook. We’re still getting near coin-flip odds when Houston blew OKC out in Game 1, which was over before halftime.

I’m playing Houston confidently up to -3.5, and I might consider parlaying them with the team 113.5-over too. As long as some of the Rockets hit shots, Houston could roll again.

The Pick: Rockets -2 

[Bet $20+ on the Rockets at PointsBet and Win $125 if they have at least one dunk]

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