Thursday NBA Betting Picks & Predictions: Our Favorite Bets for Mavs vs. Hawks, Bucks vs. Heat, Clippers vs. Warriors
Jed Jacobsohn/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Draymond Green (left) and Stephen Curry (right) of the Golden State Warriors.
- Betting the marquee NBA slate on Thursday night? Our staff broke down their favorite plays for three games -- Mavs vs. Hawks, Heat vs. Bucks and Clippers vs. Warriors.
- We're playing props, sides and totals on the third day of the NBA season.
- Get all our favorite bets for Thursday below.
We’re just two days into the NBA season and things have been already been frantic around the league with overtime games and wild comebacks.
Out analysts have picks on each of those games and make their case for their six favorite bets below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Dallas Mavericks vs. Atlanta Hawks
Joe Dellera: Jason Kidd has been hired as the coach of the Dallas Mavericks and whether that was a good or bad hire remains to be seen despite some initial concerns. Kidd made some anachronistic comments about taking fewer 3-pointers per game but if we actually dive into the numbers, there’s an interesting dynamic.
While the Mavericks saw a downtick in frequency of 3-point attempts from 40.8% last regular season to 37.2% during this preseason — that still would have ranked in the top half of the league in regards to 3 point frequency, per Cleaning the Glass.
This brings me to Luka Doncic, who saw a significant uptick in his 3-point attempts after the All Star Break last season. In 39 regular season games he averaged 3.3 3-pointers made on 9.1 attempts. More importantly, he cleared a 2.5 3-pointer threshold in 24-of-39 (61.5%) games post All-Star, and 29 of 46 (63%) including the playoffs, while shooting 40.8% from 3-point range.
I’ll back Doncic to drain three 3’s in tonight’s showdown with Trae Young and the Hawks and would play this to -140.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat
Roberto Arguello: Expect this game to have the physicality and intensity of a postseason game as the Heat were eliminated at home against a very similar Bucks team to end last season. However, the Bucks have been decimated by injuries as they are without two key starters in Holiday and Lopez while they also have just two frontcourt players available.
The Heat didn’t have a strong point-of-attack defense against the Bucks last season, and this led to some over-switching and Bucks bigs matched up against smaller Heat players when fighting for rebounds. This time around, the Heat will be the bigger team, and the Bucks will likely switch much more than they are used to without Lopez anchoring the drop (and also Holiday running over screens).
The Bucks will also switch heavily when Antetokounmpo is off the floor. If this was a playoff game, I would expect Antetokounmpo to play about 40 minutes given the lack of depth around him in the frontcourt, but with this being just the second game of the season, there is no need to play him that much, especially considering the other injuries this Bucks team is already dealing with.
Expect the Heat to come out guns blazing in a revenge game against this depleted Bucks team. The addition of Lowry will help the Heat get some easy looks in transition, and Butler and Adebayo will take advantage of the Bucks’ switching defense by getting mismatches that will lead to buckets or free throws.
The Bucks will need a superhuman effort from Antetokounmpo and Middleton to win or cover, and although this is very possible, this feels like an unlikely spot for that to happen against a Heat team that will be able to focus its defensive efforts on those two with the other leading scorers for the Bucks out.
Confidently take the Heat at -2 with value down to -4.5 against the shorthanded Bucks for one unit. If you want a little more action than just one unit, I recommend a live bet on the spread or moneyline (only at a better number than you bought pregame) when Antetokounmpo goes to the bench for the first time.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Miami Heat
Raheem Palmer: Stepping in front of this Bucks train is tough, but this feels like a great situational spot to back the Heat as the Bucks are shorthanded with injuries to Donte DiVincenzo, Bobby Portis, Rodney hood, and Semi Ojeleye.
While Jrue Holiday is expected to play after suffering a heel bruise in the opening game, they will be facing a deep Heat team in their home opener in a classic revenge spot after being swept from the postseason last year. Although the Bucks were able to survive a short handed lineup against the Brooklyn Nets in their home opener, I’m not sure that will be the case here.
The Heat are a much improved team after this off season. The addition of veteran point guard Kyle Lowry in free agency should help the Heat get into sets quicker, so I’m expecting this offense to be more efficient this season.
The addition of Tucker adds one more piece to throw at Antetokounmpo. Overall, I like the Heat to put up a solid showing and possibly win this game outright in what should be a close game. I’ll take the Heat +2.5
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors
Brandon Anderson: I’m going to keep this one nice and easy and just go with my preseason read on these teams. I love the Warriors this season, especially after what we saw in the opener, and I am really queasy on this Clippers roster.
That makes this an easy decision.
Put simply, the Warriors look like the Warriors again. Jordan Poole has officially been adopted into the Splash Brothers family with the ultimate green light, bombing 11 3-point attempts from all over the place in the opener. Nemanja Bjelica looks like Draymond Green II as a short role passer, but if you traded in Green’s defense for spacing and shooting instead.
Stephen Curry couldn’t even make a shot against LeBron, like usual, and it didn’t matter. We already knew this defense would be good, but I wonder if I underestimated the offense. This is the picture of a team that knows exactly what it is (finally!) and built the exact right roster around the key stars.
If the playoffs started right now at this exact moment, I honestly might take the Warriors out of the West. (Overreaction SZN!)
As for the Clippers, I’m just not seeing it. Kawhi Leonard is one of the best players in the world. How far out would we be on the Bucks without Antetokounmpo or the Lakers without LeBron James?
And yet with Leonard out for maybe the entire season, everyone is just assuming the Clips will win a few less games and Paul George is just going to do his best Kawhi impression? PG is not Kawhi, and this roster has a ton of guys who have outperformed expectations in the past but may not necessarily maintain that level.
Nic Batum was probably the best Clipper outside of that top two last year, but he was a waiver pick up with a very unexpected bounce back that probably won’t be repeated, and he’s already injured and missing for this one. Reggie Jackson and Terance Mann were playoff monsters for three weeks, but can they do it for six months? Luke Kennard and BJ Boston looked great in the preseason, but are they ready for the real games?
The Clippers are squarely in the play-in hunt for me. I don’t like the roster and don’t see the upside, and I’m going to be betting these Warriors until the market catches up to how good they might be again. I would’ve liked Golden State on the road in this spot honestly, so I love getting them as a short home favorite here.
LA Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors
Kenny Ducey: After a confidence-building comeback win over the Lakers, the Golden State Warriors may very well be overvalued here against last year’s Western Conference finalists.
Shooting from deep was the story of that game; the Lakers shot 42 3-pointers and converted on just 35.7%, but with a roster full of guys who have historically struggled to shoot the three, that much was understandable. A whopping 37 of those 42 3s came without a defender within four feet of the shooter, according to NBA.com, further illustrating that Golden State’s 3-point defense likely came down to good luck.
The Clippers were the league’s best 3-point shooting team a season ago and return their best shooters (minus Leonard, obvoiousl), and even brought back Eric Bledsoe, who began his career in L.A. While he won’t make many 3s, he will help draw the defense in on the drive to open up space a little more for shooters.
The Warriors, on the other hand, chose to take 41% of their shots from deep on Tuesday and made just 35.9% of them. They won’t find it any easier to shoot against this Clippers defense, which was excellent around the perimeter in the playoffs this summer and ranked sixth against the three during the regular season.
I think L.A. can find a win here behind its shooting and while it won’t exploit the Warriors’ weak interior defense with a natural post scorer, it won’t meet much resistance when Reggie Jackson, Paul George and Eric Bledsoe come knocking with the ball in their hands.