NBA Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Heat vs. Pelicans, Kings vs. Trail Blazers, More (Thursday, March 4)
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers.
We have reached the halfway point of this marathon of an NBA season. Even with 10 fewer games for each team, the first half of this stretch has been a grind.
But before we press pause on the daily slate of games, we've got nine more matchups on the schedule, including the Miami Heat against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Check out how our crew is closing out the week and the first stretch of the season with two total bets and one spread bet for Thursday night's nine-game slate.
NBA Odds & Picks
Miami Heat vs. New Orleans Pelicans
Brandon Anderson: Pelicans game overs have been one of the surest things in basketball so far this season.
New Orleans is one of the league's most exciting young teams, and of course, Zion Williamson leads the way. He is essentially still an NBA rookie, but he's already doing things that few in NBA history have done.
Williamson an insanely efficient scorer with a feathery touch at the rim, and the past month has seen Point Zion unveiled with Williamson spending more time on the ball creating, both for himself and for others.
Add in another great campaign from Brandon Ingram plus other exciting young players like Lonzo Ball, Kira Lewis, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker and you have the recipe for a ton of fun and high-flying basketball with highlights galore … and not much defense.
When the Pelicans traded for Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams, the expectation was their defense would improve — and it did for a few games early. But it has been a disaster ever since, and books are getting killed. New Orleans games have now gone over in 24 of the past 30 games, an incredible hit rate.
The Pelicans close their first half tonight against the Miami Heat — at least some version of them. Both Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are questionable tonight, according to our NBA Insiders tool, and I think we'll get the same decision on both.
The books seem to think so too, since they're listing the Heat as underdogs, implying an expectation that Butler and Adebayo may sit. While that may certainly cost the Heat on offense, it hurts their defense far more and should turn this game into an up-and-down contest with very little defense to be found.
Let's finish out the first half the same way these last couple months have played out — with yet another Pelicans game over. I bet this at 227 and would play up to 228.
Golden State Warriors vs. Phoenix Suns
Raheem Palmer: You wouldn’t know it from the reputation of the stars, but this is a game featuring two teams that rank top five in Defensive Rating with the Suns fifth (108.6) and the Warriors sixth (108.7).
Two of those stars were ruled out a short time ago, but I still think the market is pricing this total too high.
The Suns play at the second slowest pace in the league at just 97.71 possessions per game and the Warriors are coming off a back-to-back against the Blazers and are in the midst of a six-game road trip with a home game against the Charlotte Hornets sandwiched in between.
During the past seven games, the Warriors have struggled offensively scoring just 106.5 points per 100 possessions — they’re just not getting enough from everyone else outside of Stephen Curry, who won't be available tonight.
It’s very concerning that this team struggled to score on a Blazers defense that is 28th in Defensive Rating (115.6 points per 100 possessions). The Warriors played a very slow paced game at just 96 possessions and with the All-Star break coming up you have to assume that this team is tired after a long road trip and simply ready for a vacation. This doesn’t bode well against the well-rested Suns team who can defend them well.
The Warriors are taking the ninth-highest frequency of 3-point field goal attempts at 36.9% while the Suns are third in defending the 3-point line, holding opposing offenses to just 35% from behind the arc.
I expect the Suns to do a solid job defending this team just as they did in their Jan. 28 win in which they held the Warriors to just 0.91 points per possession. The Warriors should be able to defend the Suns enough to keep them from exploding as well.
I played the under at 225 before the news broke, but would play this down to 221.
Sacramento Kings vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Kenny Ducey: The Blazers continue to ascend in the West, recovering from a small dip in form to win their past two to make it 10 victories in 15 tries. They’ll be looking to extend another favorable run of late: Their performances on the second night of back-to-backs.
Portland’s gone 4-2 against the spread on zero rest this season, according to Bet Labs, a trend I see continuing on Thursday. Similar to Wednesday night, I see an advantage against a poor 3-point defense. The Kings have watched opposing 3-pointers fall at a 40.3% rate this season, tops in the NBA, and just allowed the Lakers to hit 44.4% from downtown in a win last night.
Only one team shoots more 3s than the Blazers, who put up a ridiculous 42 treys in last night’s thriller, and it’s with good reason. They have an infinite supply of shooting wings, including Gary Trent, Jr. who made just one 3-pointer on Wednesday. I suspect he will rebound from a poor shooting performance, give he’s only gone back-to-back games under 36% once this year.
The Kings’ horrible defense, combined with its 3-4 ATS record on the second night of back-to-backs, give me enough reason to believe the Blazers’ hot streak can continue, particularly at this price.
As long as Tyrese Haliburton remains out, the Kings will have no way of slowing down opposing guards and forwards. I grabbed this at Blazers -4 andI make this line -6, so there’s pretty decent value on -4.5.