NBA Betting Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Wizards vs. Nets, 76ers vs. Bucks, More (February 17)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images. Pictured: Joel Embiid #21 of the Philadelphia 76ers, Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks.
We’ve got four games on Thursday’s schedule before most of the league takes a week-long hiatus for the All-Star break. But before guys start chanting “1-2-3 Cancun!” our NBA crew has whipped up four bets for tonight’s short slate.
In the three games they’ve chosen, our analysts have are eyeing a total, prop, spread and one parlay. Read on for their in-depth analysis and best bets for Thursday night.
NBA Odds & Picks
Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Hornets
Raheem Palmer: The Charlotte Hornets are in a complete tailspin, having lost eight of their past nine games.
A big part of their struggle stems from poor play on offense. They are scoring 105.2 points per 100 possessions (26th in the NBA) during this stretch after scoring 113.8 per 100 (fourth) prior to this slump. Although the market doesn’t price this in, the Hornets’ offensive woes can be attributed to the loss of Gordon Hayward, one of Charlotte’s best playmakers and scoring threats.
Despite leading the league in Pace (100.9 possessions), this team has gone under the closing total six times in the past nine games. Thursday’s matchup doesn’t shape up well for an over either — the Miami Heat play at the fourth-slowest Pace (95.8), rank 22nd in Offensive Length of possession (14.9 seconds) and last defensive length of possession (15.1). They have the ability to lock down the Hornets with the league’s sixth-best defensive unit (108.3 Rating), especially if they can keep the game in the half court where they allow the fifth-fewest points per play (91.4).
In their last head-to-head meeting, the Heat held the Hornets to just 86 points on 0.88 points per possession. The Hornets actually had Hayward available for that game, which was played at a Pace of just 97.6 possessions.
We’re looking at a slower paced game here right before the All-Star break and the Heat are likely to be missing the frontrunner for Sixth Man of the year, Tyler Herro. In their last meeting Herro put up 19 points on 7-of-13 (53.8%) shooting and his impact on this Heat offense can’t be understated. The Heat are scoring 107.8 points per game in the 12 games without Herro this season, so I’m not expecting a huge output here from the Heat as well.
My model makes this game 224, and the combination of the Heat’s slow pace and outstanding defense points to value on the total here. I grabbed this at 228, but I like the under 226.5 in this matchup.
Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Hornets
Roberto Arguello: Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo should have more favorable matchups against a much less disciplined Hornets defense than they did in their loss Tuesday against the Mavericks. Adebayo has averaged 23 points in each of the two previous meetings between these teams, and with Cody Martin and Jalen McDaniels out, the Hornets will be without two of their better wing defenders .
This means that the Heat should have some opportunities to score inside, and if the Hornets double, shooters like Duncan Robinson, Max Strus and Gabe Vincent will have open looks on the perimeter. The Heat’s shooters should bounce back from an outlier poor performance on Tuesday and be plenty motivated to head into the All-Star break with a win.
The Hornets have consistently lost to bad teams, and the Heat have beaten them by 15 and 18 points in their two previous meetings this season. Since January 20th, the Hornets are 0-9 against teams with winning percentages of .500 or better.
The Hornets are a bad defensive team, and even though the Heat’s offense lacks juice without Herro available, they should execute at a high enough level with Lowry, Butler and Adebayo leading the way to take advantage of the Hornets’ weaknesses and win comfortably.
Parlay the Heat at -5 (down to -6.5) and Under 226.5 (down to 224) at +264 as the Heat have held the Hornets to an average of 92.5 points per game in two prior meetings, and the Heat’s offense won’t be as potent without Herro.
Washington Wizards vs. Brooklyn Nets
Brandon Anderson: February means sweater-wearing season, and sweater-wearing season means Kyle Kuzma SZN.
Kuzma has quietly been awesome for the Wizards this year. He leads the team in minutes and has filled up the box score all season, averaging 16.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game. But Kuzma has really stepped it up in the shorthanded Washington games when the Wizards are missing key guys. And that means this is his moment.
Spencer Dinwiddie, Aaron Holiday, and Montrezl Harrell were dealt away at the trade deadline, leaving a gaping hole in minutes and usage on this team, even more so with Bradley Beal out injured and the newly-acquired Kristaps Porzingis still sidelined with injury. And Kuzma has been more than happy to oblige.
In his first game without that trio, Kuzma posted his first career triple-double. And in the four games without them, he’s averaging 16.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 6.3 assists. The scoring and rebounding are not far off from his season averages, but it’s the increased playmaking that has really caught my eye.
Kuzma has recorded 10, seven, two, and six assists in these four games. And outside of that outlier game with two dimes, he’s averaging 12.0 Potential Assists in the other three games per NBA Advanced Stats. That’s a huge number for Kuzma that paints him as Washington’s primary playmaker, and it means we have to smash this over 4.5 line.
And if you shop around a bit, you’ll find some very nice alternate over lines to dabble in on Kuzma as well. You can play Kuz to get at least six assists at +210 at PointsBet. That’s only one extra assist for almost double the payout, and he’s done that in three of these four games, so you know we’re grabbing that one. You can also play for another triple-double at +3800 at FanDuel. The points should come easy, and Kuzma’s rebounding over/under is already 9.5, so you’re betting mostly on the high-end assist outcome there if you want just a little sprinkle.
With six or more assists in three of these last four games, I’m flabbergasted that we’re getting this much plus juice on Kuzma’s line, which should probably be at least 5.5 at this point, if not higher. I’ll play at any plus number and don’t expect the +130 to last long.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Kenny Ducey: The Bucks’ last six games have all gone over for two reasons. The first is that their pace has remained blistering, ranking third in the NBA during that time at 102.75. The second would be that their defense has lagged behind, giving up a whopping 115.7 points per 100 possessions to rank in the bottom seven of the NBA.
Simply put, this team is floundering ever so slightly, and though it has five wins in the last seven games, those have come over the Wizards, Trail Blazers, Clippers, Lakers and Pacers. Those aren’t exactly franchise-defining victories.
More recently, Milwaukee was shellacked by the Suns and handed a loss as an 11-point favorite by the Trail Blazers before failing to cover the 14.5 points against Indiana. I think the defense is a legitimate concern here, and the Sixers — who have at least played average defense in the last two weeks — should stand a good chance here.
I’m also feeling good about the fact that Philly is healthy aside from James Harden and the Bucks are still missing Pat Connaughton and George Hill with Grayson Allen likely out as well. I’ll take the Sixers to cover at +6.5.
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