NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Best Bets for Raptors vs. Bulls, Trail Blazers vs. Suns & More (Thursday, May 13)
Cameron Browne/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Damian Lillard #0 of the Portland Trail Blazers.
- We're down to the final stretch of the NBA regular season.
- With teams fighting for playoff spots and positioning, games mean more, which is the case on Thursday night.
- These three matchups stand out to our staff of NBA analysts.
We’re back on the NBA betting train for Thursday night’s nine-game slate.
Our NBA analysts are betting three of those games tonight and picking one first-quarter spread, one full-game spread and one underdog on the moneyline tonight.
Check out their analysis for those matchups below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Denver Nuggets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
Joe Dellera: The Nuggets are all but locked into the No. 4 seed in the West and may not be highly motivated to move up from their seeding. They’re playing a Timberwolves team that seemingly forgot that it’s probably in their best interest to lose these games as the season winds down. So where is the value?
Over the past two weeks, they have posted sixth best point differential in the league +7.8, but they have not played any teams in the top 10 in point differential this season over that stretch, per Cleaning the Glass. On the flip side, the Nuggets are fourth in the league in point differential for this entire season, +5.7 points per 100 possessions, and they’ve continued to play well in the absence of Jamal Murray.
The Nuggets play again Friday, and may look to put the game out of reach early so they can take some of the stress off of their starters. The Nuggets have started a lineup featuring Facundo Campazzo, Austin Rivers, Michael Porter Jr, Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Jokic over the past two games. This lineup has a point differential of +28.2 points per 100 possessions and they’ve limited their opponents to just 88.2 points per 100, per Cleaning the Glass.
I expect Denver to start off strong against a Timberwolves team that has no motivation to win. There’s a ton of juice on this line, but I think it’s worth the squeeze and like it to -2.
Toronto Raptors vs. Chicago Bulls
Raheem Palmer: Do you see this lineup for the Toronto Raptors? They’re missing Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Chris Boucher.
They’re essentially starting Matt Moore, Brandon Anderson, Malik Smith, Joe Dellera and Raheem Palmer as they prove to be the Colonel of the Tank, Master P style.
Seriously, though, they’re playing the youth movement — Malachi Flynn, Gary Trent Jr, Yuta Watanabe, Stanley Johnson and Khem Birch — which is a lot better at basketball than the Action Network crew of writers, but certainly aren’t competing with an NBA team that is desperate to make the playoffs.
The Bulls likely won’t make the postseason as they’re 2.5 games behind the Washington Wizards with three games to play, but they’ll be going for it as they recently welcomed the return of Zach LaVine and will hope to build some momentum for next season.
The Bulls dropped their most recent game to the Brooklyn Nets, but they’ve won three out of their past four games, defeating the Pistons by 12, the Celtics by 22, and the Hornets by 21.
It feels like that’s going to continue here against the Raptors who rank 22nd in Offensive Rating (109.6) and 20th in Defensive Rating (116.4) in their non-garbage time minutes the past two weeks, according to Cleaning the Glass.
The Raptors struggle to protect the rim and defend the perimeter under normal circumstances, allowing opposing teams to shoot 65.2% at the rim (23rd) and 38% percent from behind the arc (25th).
Now they’re going to have to stop Nikola Vucevic and LaVine. Lay the points with the Bulls as they should win by double digits against team that just wants this season to end. 1-2-3 Cancun and the Bulls to cover nine points.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Phoenix Suns
Brandon Anderson: Coming down the home stretch here, this game is all about motivation for me.
For the Trail Blazers, the motivation is very clear: Portland wants to win every game possible right now and do everything it can to lock in the highest seed possible. Right now, the Blazers could clinch a playoff spot with a win and avoid the play-in tournament.
The motivation for the Suns is significantly lower. Phoenix is second in the West and can ostensibly still move up or down a slot. But do the Suns really want to move up or even lock in the No. 2 seed? It’s likely that the No. 2 seed could have to face the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. That is an absolute nightmare scenario, if the Lakers get healthy by the start of the playoffs.
The No. 1 seed would be a nice improvement, but Phoenix would need to win out and see Utah lose at least once more. There’s another scenario for the Suns: lose tonight and see if they can drop to the No. 3 seed.
The Clippers are two games behind Phoenix and could still try to tank for control themselves, but their schedule is so winnable they may not be able to lose enough.
The bottom line is that the Blazers winning this game is a pretty good outcome for both teams. Portland definitely wants the win and has won nine of its past 10, and the Suns sure don’t seem like a team that should be pushing for every win right now.
Portland is red hot right now, and Damian Lillard will be the best player on the court. The Blazers are playing like the playoffs have already started. They know that getting to the No. 5 seed could leave a realistic path through Denver and Utah right to the Western Conference Finals.
I’m grabbing the Blazers moneyline at +165 and playing the motivation edge. I’ll play to +150.
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