Thursday NBA Betting Picks: Our Best Playoff Bets for Raptors vs. Celtics and Nuggets vs. Clippers (Sept. 3)

Thursday NBA Betting Picks: Our Best Playoff Bets for Raptors vs. Celtics and Nuggets vs. Clippers (Sept. 3) article feature image
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Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jamal Murray #27 of the Denver Nuggets.

  • Our NBA experts are all over tonight's NBA Playoff double-header.
  • See the bets they are making on the Raptors vs. Celtics Game 3 first half and full game spread, plus a team total from Nuggets vs. Clippers Game 1.

Thursday’s double-header of NBA playoffs action features the reigning champion Toronto Raptors in a must-win Game 3 against the red-hot Boston Celtics. The Denver Nuggets will also begun their second round series against the Los Angeles Clippers in the late game.

So, where’s the value today? Our staff is here to break down their favorite NBA bets for today’s slate and has found angles in both matchups:

  • 6:30 p.m. ET: Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors 
  • 9 p.m. ET: Denver Nuggets vs. LA Clippers 

Thursday NBA Betting Picks


Odds via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.


Raheem Palmer: Celtics vs. Raptors

Celtics odds -2 [BET NOW]
Raptors odds +2 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -127/+107 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 216.5 [BET NOW]
Time 6:30 p.m. ET
TV TNT

After four regular season games and two playoff games, it’s clear, the Boston Celtics are a bad matchup for the Toronto Raptors. The Celtics have beaten the Raptors five out of six times this season. The Celtics are the better team for this matchup, but you should never underestimate the heart of a champion.

One of the Raptors’ biggest issues is that they don’t have a star who can get his own shot in the half court, which is key for crunch time. Not having Kawhi Leonard turns this team from a championship contender to a great regular season team that is one elite wing away from making real noise. As flawed as Demar Derozan is, the Raptors could have certainly used him down the stretch in Game 2.

Still, I think they can hang with this team. Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and Norman Powell are collectively shooting 32% from the field. The Celtics defense is good, but not that good.

Some of this is just negative variance. Oddsmakers setting this line at Raptors -1 with the market moving it to -2 suggest the same. The market isn’t overreacting to Games 1 and 2 or the four previous regular season games. I think that speaks volumes about what these two teams actually are. Oftentimes as bettors we let a few games in a playoff series cloud our perception and the market does a good job at keeping us honest.

I’m not willing to bet the full game, but I think we get a strong effort from the Raps in the first half. They would be on the road in this matchup if it weren’t being played in the bubble, so in some ways they have a bit of advantage to play in a desperation spot without the Celtics having home court advantage –which historically I have at about 2.56 points at the TD Garden. If there’s a spot in which they show up, it’s here, otherwise we could see a sweep.

The Pick: Toronto 1H -1 (-109)

[Bet the Raptors at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

Brandon Anderson: Celtics vs. Raptors

The Raptors is down 0-2, staring into the abyss.

This wouldn’t just be the end of a postseason run for the Raptors, it potentially could be the end of the Raptors as we know them. Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka are older free agents, Fred VanVleet might be the summer’s biggest free agent target and Kyle Lowry has one year left on his deal. If the Raptors go out without a real fight in the second round, it’s probably time to savor one final moment, blow this thing up, and move forward on a rebuild.

In a normal series, we’d expect a team down 0-2 to make a final heroic push in Game 3. Of course, in most cases, that team would be returning home and getting a big boost, which won’t happen here. Heck, it wouldn’t happen anyways because the Raptors are the higher seed. (Maybe they wouldn’t even be down 0-2 if they had home court the first two games.)

This isn’t a normal series, though, and the Celtics aren’t going to no-show for Game 3 thinking they have this series won. The C’s have the answers against the Celtics, and I think they’re the slightly better team — probably a worthy -2 or so favorite at this point.

But sometimes you just have to believe, and I believe the Raptors make a fight of this game because that’s the heart of a champion.

The Pick: Raptors -2

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


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Matt Moore: Nuggets vs. Clippers

Nuggets odds +9 [BET NOW]
Clippers odds -9 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +350/-435 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 223 [BET NOW]
Time 9 p.m. ET
TV TNT

I am probably going to sprinkle a small amount on the Nuggets +8.5, but it’s not my best bet. The Nuggets pretty much spent the entire media availability yesterday talking about how tired they are. So tired. Very tired. Much exhaustion. Can’t even get out of bed. On and on and on.

Why would an NBA team that sometimes lists months long injuries as “foot injury” and doesn’t even let players talk about it be this open about it? Why would Michael Malone, he of “No excuses,” make pre-emptive excuses like this?

I’m not saying they’re not tired. Game 7’s are grueling. The Spurs never recovered from their second-round series in 2008 against the Hornets. But the Nuggets are a team that oftentimes is hit with “there’s no way they’ll have it for this game” only to somehow put in a better effort. Remember Game 4 last year vs. Portland? Multiple overtimes, exhausting heartbreaking game? They came back and won.

But still, my real best bet is on their team total. The reasonable outcomes for this game that are possible:

  • Clippers blow out the Nuggets by 25, putting up a number above 125, and the Nuggets wind up with garbage time offense to hit the over.
  • Clippers win a shootout
  • Nuggets pull off an upset by scoring 120

The team total for Denver is 107.5. The Clippers’ defense is overrated on multiple fronts.

It’s possible that the Nuggets really are exhausted and come in and put up 85 points or something, but having covered this team for the entire Michael Malone/Nikola Jokic stretch, I think the value is on Denver’s over.

The Pick: Nuggets over 107.5

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