NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for 76ers vs. Pistons, Cavaliers vs. Hawks, More (March 31)
Harrison Barden/Getty Images. Pictured: Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks.
We have a short NBA slate on Thursday with some very big games.
You’d be forgiven if you thought this column was our daily props piece. Our crew of betting analysts are going deep into the props market for their favorite bets on the slate in three games: 76ers-Pistons, Cavaliers-Hawks and Bucks-Nets.
In addition, we’re eyeing value on the spread in Cavs-Hawks, which is a crucial game for the Eastern Conference play-in standings.
Check out their in-depth analysis and best bets for Thursday night.
NBA Odds & Picks
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Detroit Pistons
Brandon Anderson: Don’t look now, but Cade Cunningham is making a late season push for Rookie of the Year.
Cunningham started the year slowly. He was injured and missed most of training camp and was clearly limited at the start of the year. The Pistons were also running much of the offense through Killian Hayes still, perhaps trying to save a past lottery pick investment or maybe just trying to ease Cade into things.
But Cunningham has really taken a big step forward since his strong performance at All-Star Weekend. Just look at the production over the past 10 games. He’s put up 23.1 points, 5.0 assists, and 7.9 assists per game! Those aren’t just potential Rookie of the Year numbers. Those numbers would make you an All-Star, maybe even a possible All-NBA nominee. Of course, they’d only do that over a whole season, not just a 10-game span.
Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t profit in the short term. Cunningham’s scoring is up but still somewhat inconsistent, but it’s his assists that are really standing out. Finally, Detroit is running its offense through Cade’s capable hands. He’s had at least six assists in each of these last 10 games. That’s a heck of a floor considering we only need one more than that to hit this over.
Cunningham actually ranks top 10 in the entire NBA in Potential Assists over the last 10 games, per NBA Advanced Stats, at 14.6 per game. We don’t even need him to convert half of those to hit this over. He’s gone over in seven of the last 10.
I love this at any plus number but would play to -120 in needed.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks
Matt Moore: The Cavaliers run the second most pick and roll coverage at the level of any team in the league. What this means is that they put two defenders at the level to try and get the ball out of the ball handler’s hands and cut off the head of the snake.
The weakness in this comes if the ball handler is a good passer who can get the ball out to either the rolling screener (Clint Capela) or to shooters on the other side. Young averages 9.7 assists per game vs. the top 5 teams in at-the-level coverage this season, and with Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen sidelined, the Cavs’ defense isn’t what it was.
I’ll bet that Young racks up double digit assists in this one, and I like him to have a double-double as well.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks
Raheem Palmer: The Cleveland Cavaliers were having a dream season, having the most success they’ve had as a franchise since LeBron James left in free agency. Unfortunately, it’s all come crashing down due to injuries.
While they were able to weather the storm with the losses of Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley aren’t replaceable for a Cavaliers team which is built on their defense. The presence of Allen and Mobley inside led the Cavs to the 5th ranked Defensive Rating (109.2) in their non-garbage time minutes per Cleaning the Glass.
Nonetheless, it’s no surprise that this defense has fallen off a cliff, ranking 20th in Defensive Rating, giving up 117.4 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks. They come off a 120-112 loss to the Mavericks in which they gave up 1.27 points per possession and now take on Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks who are one of the best offenses in the league.
The Hawks are top 10 in eFG% (54.4), fourth in field goal percentage from behind the arc (37.6%) and are scoring 119.5 points per 100 possessions over the past two weeks. While the Hawks have struggled defensively for much of the year, they’ve improved over the last couple of weeks and a they make their postseason push they’ve won and covered three straight games and three out of their last four.
These are two teams headed in completely different directions since the All-Star Break with the Hawks going 11-7 with a +2.6 Net Rating and the Cavs going 7-11 with a Net Rating of -3.7.
The Cavs have lost and failed to cover four out of their last five games with their only win coming against the Orlando Magic who benched all of their starters the entire fourth quarter as they looked to develop younger talent and put themselves in position for a higher draft pick.
With both teams playing on a back-to-back, this isn’t an ideal schedule spot for either, however the Hawks are at home and my model makes them 7-point favorites here.
I’ll lay the points with the Hawks as they should pick up another win to keep pace in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Brooklyn Nets
Kenny Ducey: Believe it or not, the Nets are not one of the best rebounding teams in the NBA just because they picked up Andre Drummond. Since the All-Star break, Brooklyn is just 16th in rebounding rate, grabbing 49.8% of available boards, and against a very long team like the Milwaukee Bucks they’re going to be in for a challenge.
Milwaukee is second in rebounding since the break, and no one has enjoyed more success on the glass than Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s averaging 13.1 boards in those 13 games, and he’s exceeded 13.5 rebounds a resounding seven times.
Antetokounmpo went for 14 against the Nets on opening night and while he only secured seven rebounds against Brooklyn in early January, it came in a 26-minute outing. The Nets are incredibly vulnerable down low and I’m going to back Antetokounmpo to exploit that. I’d have his total set a rebound higher here.
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