NBA Expert Betting Picks: 5 Bets Our Staff Likes, Including Spurs vs. Clippers

NBA Expert Betting Picks: 5 Bets Our Staff Likes, Including Spurs vs. Clippers article feature image

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: LA Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.

  • Tonight's NBA schedule features three matchups: Heat vs. Hawks (7 p.m. ET), Nuggets vs. Pelicans (9:30 p.m. ET) and Spurs vs. Clippers (10:30 p.m. ET)
  • See how our staff is betting Thursday's NBA slate.

There are just three games on the docket, but there is plenty betting value to be found in those games.

Kawhi Leonard sat out Wednesday’s 14-point blowout loss in Utah to the Jazz, but will go up against his former team, the Spurs on Thursday. Should we expect domination from a rested Leonard tonight?

Our NBA experts detailed the bets they are making below.

Odds as of Thursday at 3 p.m. ET and via PointsBet, where Action Network users can access an exclusive promotion to get a 200% deposit match (deposit $50, bet with $150).

Wob: Heat at Hawks Odds

  • Spread: Heat -6.5
  • Total: 215
  • Time: 7 p.m. ET
  • TV: TNT

Who exactly is going to do the initiating on offense for Atlanta with Trae out?

It’s hard for me to believe this team can maintain its torrid pace numbers without Young out there pulling threes from Marietta, GA with 18 seconds on the shot clock. This means they’ll go to the paint to get their points, where Bam Adebayo will be waiting.

Also, you probably haven’t noticed, but Jimmy Butler is back, which means taking every individual defensive possession personally and lots of iso plays.

Pace pace pace. Get used to that word. It will be slow.

The PICK: Under 215 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Matt Moore: Nuggets at Pelicans Odds

  • Spread: Nuggets -4
  • Total: 223
  • Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: TNT

The Pelicans have the third-worst defense in the league so far, playing at the fifth-highest pace. The Nuggets, meanwhile, are due for a positive regression to the mean offensively after struggling for three games in a row.

The starting lineup (which may be without Will Barton, but will have adequate fill-ins) is shooting six percentage points under its expected effective field goal percentage. Meanwhile, their team total is only 113.

The Pelicans haven’t given up fewer than 120 points yet. Think about that.

Bank on the regression for the Nuggets and for them to get going. There’s also a decent chance Michael Porter Jr. gets in this game, and while that will also swing the combined total because of his defense, he can get buckets, which may lift an inconsistent bench unit’s offensive ceiling.

The PICK: Nuggets Over 113.5 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Brandon Anderson: Nuggets at Pelicans Odds

It’s been a slow start for Nikola Jokic. He’s recorded two triple-doubles in four games, but one of them was the Jason Kidd variety (10 points, rebounds, and assists right on the nose), and he struggled to get going notching just two assists in each of his road games.

The Pelicans could be a nice remedy for that.

Derrick Favors is doubtful with a knee injury, and Zion is obviously still out, so who exactly is going to guard Jokic? Jahlil Okafor? Nicolo Melli? Jaxson Hayes?

Please. Jokic was a chic MVP candidate. He’s due for a monster game and should cruise against New Orleans.

The Pelicans want to play at a top-five pace, but they’re young, and the Nuggets play at the slowest pace in the league. Their veterans will slow this one down and play through Jokic. The line has already moved up from -3, so I’m grabbing it before it moves further.

The PICK: Denver -4 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

John Ewing: Spurts at Clippers Odds

  • Spread: Clippers -4
  • Total: 228
  • Time: 10:30 p.m. ET

Clippers-Spurs total opened 225.5 and has increased to 226.5. Bettors who jumped on the over early feel good about their wager, but is there still value on the over even though the line moved?

Normally chasing line movement is not a profitable strategy. Beating the closing line is a good way to ensure long term success as a bettor. Though, in certain situations it has been profitable to follow line movement in the NBA.

The key in the NBA is to look at dollars percentages vs. ticket percentages.

Currently, bets are pretty split on tonight’s total with only 54% of tickets on the over. However, 89% of dollars are on the over indicating big wagers, usually from sharp bettors, are moving the line.

Even though the line has moved, it has been profitable to bet the over when there is more money than tickets on the game.

The PICK: Over 228 [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

Bryan Mears: Spurs at Clippers

The Clips are on the second leg of a back-to-back, but I don’t think that’s worth much for the Spurs here. First, back-to-backs are overrated early in the season when teams are more rested, as my colleague John Ewing wrote here.

And second, the Clips’ best player, Kawhi Leonard, sat out last night. It wasn’t a particularly close game against the Jazz, either, so the main guys weren’t stretched a bunch: Lou Williams played 27 minutes. Montrezl Harrell got in foul trouble and played just 13.

As a result, I think the Clips are a bit undervalued here, especially since they’ve moved from -5 at opening to -4. That essentially says these teams are close to even on a neutral floor, and I don’t believe that to be the case.

Perhaps the line is incorporating the back-to-back as a ding for them, but again I don’t think it should really be a factor in this line.

Some trends for you, if you’re into that kind of the thing: Over the past three seasons, the Spurs are 49-34-2 against the spread at home vs. 36-44-2 on the road.

They have been good against the league’s best teams, going 30-18-1 ATS against opponents with a win rate of 60% or higher, but the splits on that one are pretty stark.

  • As favorite vs. opponents with win rate 60% or higher: 15-5 ATS
  • As underdog vs. opponents with win rate 60% or higher: 15-13-1 ATS

A big chunk of that value is the Spurs as favorites and at home.

If the Clips have a weakness on offense so far, it’s turning over the ball. That said, the Spurs are currently dead last in forcing turnovers on defense, even with Dejounte Murray back in action.

Interestingly, the Spurs have actually run the ball quite a bit this season, ranking first in transition frequency (again, Dejounte). That said, the Clips have limited transition opportunities at the second-best rate — that’s what happens when you’re second in offensive efficiency and first in eFG% — and the Spurs haven’t been that great at converting them anyway.

I wouldn’t bet this at Clippers -5, but I like -4 for a small edge.

The PICK: Clippers -4 (I wouldn’t bet past -4.5) [In New Jersey? Bet now at PointsBet]

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