Moore’s Thursday NBA Betting Picks & Angles: The NBA Is Back and So Are Ja Morant and the Grizzlies
Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Ja Morant (12) of the Memphis Grizzlies handles the ball against the De’Aaron Fox (5) of the Sacramento Kings.
- Matt Moore has his best angles for Thursday's six-game slate, including picks on Bucks-Pistons and Grizzlies-Kings.
- With Ja Morant dazzling, are the Grizzlies one of the more undervalued teams in the Western Conference?
- See Moore's full betting breakdown for Thursday below.
As the season resumes following the All-Star Break, here are some angles based on matchups and trends for a sneaky-good Thursday NBA betting slate:
Bucks at Pistons
- Spread: Bucks -13.5
- Over/Under: 225.5
- Time: 7 p.m. ET
The Angle: Mike Budenholzer, Lord of the Division
Since joining the Bucks, Mike Budenholzer is … wait for it … 20-7-1 (74%) against the spread vs. Central division teams. As a double-digit favorite in such instances? 9-4.
He’s also been killer on the road as a big favorite, going 24-9-1 on the road as a six-point favorite or more. He kills these teams. Wrecks them.
But wait, there’s more!
The Pistons give up the second-most points in the paint per 100 possessions, the Bucks create the 13th-most. The only area where this favors the Pistons is that they rank 13th in transition points allowed and fourth in transition points allowed per possession. But the Bucks are so dominant in this aspect, they should be able to bend the Pistons back enough.
The Bucks are the No. 1 team in halfcourt defense and the Pistons’ middling offense is only 19th per possession in the halfcourt. The Pistons also are playing a frontcourt that’s too small to handle the Bucks inside.
However, Detroit ranks 13th in points allowed off catch-and-shoot jumpers. I think the Bucks will put on a defensive clinic and the Pistons will manage to slow down the transition attack from the Bucks, while being unable to score enough themselves.
I know it’s a lot of points to lay, but Milwaukee is a team worthy of that respect.
The Play: Bucks -13.5, Under 225.5
Hornets at Bulls
- Spread: Bulls -4.5
- Over/Under: 211
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
The Angle: Let’s Settle Down on Chicago
One big caveat here: Wendell Carter Jr. is likely back tonight, and he has the best on/off splits of any player in their rotation. He makes that much of a difference for the Bulls.
But is that enough for the Bulls to be laying 4.5? I don’t think so.
No Otto Porter, no Lauri Markkanen, and Kris Dunn is out for the year. Porter has been out, but Markkanen and Dunn are legit losses (even with how bad Dunn’s offense is, his defense is valuable).
The Hornets are sneaky good on the road this season; against teams with a sub-.400 record, Charlotte is 9-4 (69%) ATS.
Chicago’s defense has been great this season, but it’s also 12.3 points worse per 100 possessions with LaVine on the floor. With Dunn out, that means more minutes for LaVine.
In games where LaVine plays more than 35 minutes this season, Chicago is 0-4 ATS, including one such game vs. the Hornets. Chicago is 1-5 ATS this season when Kris Dunn plays fewer than 15 minutes, giving up 124 points per game, and 1-3 when he doesn’t play at all.
Dunn is the type of player who won’t impact the spread but makes a huge difference for the Bulls. The Bulls’ defense is much better than their offense this season (thanks, Jim Boylen!) and Dunn is an impact player on that end.
The Play: Hornets +4.5, Under 211
Grizzlies at Kings
- Spread: Grizzlies -1.5
- Over/Under: 230
- Time: 10 p.m. ET
The Angle: The West is Overrated
The Grizzlies have been on an absolute tear, but they’ve specifically been great vs. Western conference teams with an increased reputation in the betting market.
The Grizzlies are 21-12-1 (64%) ATS this season vs. West opponents, including 9-4-1 (69%) ATS on the road, and 10-6 (63%) ATS vs. West teams under .500.
I have a little trepidation based on the changes the Grizzlies made at the deadline, sending out Jae Crowder and Solomon Hill for Justise Winslow. I have similar concerns that the trade the Kings made sending Dewayne Dedmon to Atlanta for Jabari Parker and Alex Len may have actually improved them, but Sacramento hasn’t been great at home vs. West teams this season.
I like the matchup on the perimeter for both teams, but the Grizz have been too good lately not to take as a short-favorite in this spot.
The Grizzlies and Kings are both bottom-10 in catch-and-shoot possessions allowed, and good at converting them. The Kings put up a 113.6 offensive rating in February before the break, their highest of any season.
Even with a high total, this projects as a high-efficiency game. Memphis’ defense has been great, and both teams have slowed their pace. But I like the over, still.
The Play: Memphis -1, Over 230