NBA Expert Betting Picks (Thursday, Feb. 20) Our Favorite Bets for Grizzlies vs. Kings, Heat vs. Hawks, More

NBA Expert Betting Picks (Thursday, Feb. 20) Our Favorite Bets for Grizzlies vs. Kings, Heat vs. Hawks, More article feature image

Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: A close up view of Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies

  • Our NBA experts have pegged their four favorite bets from tonight's six-game slate.
  • Should you expect the Bucks (-13) to cover a huge line against an undermanned Pistons team? How will Ja Morant and the Grizzlies perform in a road tilt with Sacramento?
  • See all of our experts' favorite bets and analysis below.

The NBA is back! After nearly a week off for the All-Star break, the regular season resumes with a six-game slate on Thursday. Our experts are betting on these specific matchups:

  • 7 p.m. ET: Milwaukee Bucks at Detroit Pistons
  • 7:30 p.m. ET: Miami Heat at Atlanta Hawks
  • 8 p.m. ET: Charlotte Hornets at Chicago Bulls
  • 10 p.m. ET: Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings

See the bets they’re making below.

Odds as of Thursday afternoon and via FanDuel. Get up to a $500 risk-free bet at FanDuel today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

Wob: Grizzlies at Kings

  • Spread: Grizzlies -1.5
  • Over/Under: 229.5
  • Time: 10 p.m. ET

The line opened Grizzlies +1.5, and the world quickly remembered the golden rule: “Sacramento should be favored against nobody.”

These first games after the All-Star break are usually sloppy because players have been on vacation and everyone has crazy uncontrollable bounce, but from what I saw (and most importantly heard) from Ja Morant during the break: He was locked in from the minute he landed in Chicago to the moment he left.

He spoke on public feuds with Andre Iguodala, was tweeting during the games like a dog sitting in place waiting for a place of meat to drop and is clearly ready to return and burn the nets down. He’s only a rookie, but I can assure you he doesn’t see other teams — he sees prey.

The Grizzlies pick up right where they left off tonight, and let’s be honest: Nothing — not even a week in Fiji — can save this Kings team from spiraling into mediocrity. Action speak louder than words, and the Grizzlies are pretty damn loud.

The PICK: Grizzlies -1.5

Moore: Bucks at Pistons

  • Spread: Bucks -13
  • Over/Under: 226
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET

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.

That said, 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 PICK: Bucks -13, Under 226

Brandon Anderson: Heat at Hawks

  • Spread: Heat -6
  • Over/Under: 229.5
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

The Heat limped into the All-Star break, but the Hawks have limped through the entire season. The Eastern playoff picture is so soft and Atlanta should have been in prime position to take advantage, but this team is an ugly 15-41 and just hasn’t shown up this season. The John Collins excuse is tired, too — the team hasn’t done any better since his return. They don’t play defense and don’t score well enough against teams that do.

None of that is true about Miami. The Heat have the sort of team culture that always shows up each night, always plays hard on defense, always forces the opponent to work hard for what’s theirs.

Atlanta hasn’t shown the resiliency to hang with a team like that this season. I’d feel a little more comfortable if this were a few points lower, but I’ll count on Miami to take care of business late if needed.

The PICK: Heat -6

John Ewing: Hornets at Bulls

  • Spread: Bulls -4.5
  • Over/Under: 210.5
  • Time: 8 p.m. ET

Players don’t give 100 percent effort right after the All-Star break because they suffer from a vacation hangover. When players aren’t trying their hardest, it shows on the defensive end of the court.

Since 2005, in the first games after the All-Star break (when team are most likely to be going through the motions), the over has gone 154-126-5 (55%).

When the game features two teams below .500, it has been even more profitable to bet the over. Bad teams with nothing to play for are even more likely to loaf on defense.

The over when two teams with losing records play the first two days after the All-Star break has gone 54-25-1 (68%) since 2005.

The Bulls and Hornets meet tonight in the first game after the break. Chicago is 17 games below .500; Charlotte is 18. Look for each team to start slow on defense, which should lead to a shootout.

The PICK: Over 210.5

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