NBA Odds, Expert Picks: Thursday’s Best Bets, Including Pelicans vs. Jazz
Sean Gardner/Getty Images. Pictured: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans.
- The Action Network's NBA experts are coming out swinging on Thursday with five best bets.
- They have two plays for Pelicans vs. Jazz and three for Bucks vs. Grizzlies.
- Check out their picks and analysis below.
The NBA season continues on Thursday with only four games, but all four feature what should be competitive matchups with spreads of four points or fewer. Our NBA analysts have found five different picks for Bucks vs. Grizzlies and Pelicans vs. Jazz tonight worth tailing. Check out the odds, expert picks and predictions for Thursday’s NBA slate below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Memphis Grizzlies Spread
Matt Moore: My numbers make this Memphis -6. That might be surprising with the Bucks’ record, but the truth is that the Bucks have won against an easy schedule with grit in close games, rather than dominance or offensive prowess, which is needed against the Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies are a top-five team in Transition Points Added per possession at CleaningTheGlass.com. The top-five teams in that category are 60% ATS at home this season, and the Grizzlies themselves are 10-3-1 ATS at home. They have the ability to get up and down the floor with the Bucks and match their athleticism.
Jrue Holiday is out with illness, and he should be worth between 1.5 and 2 points to the spread on his own.
Meanwhile, the market has a pretty good feel for when the Bucks should be dogs. Since 2020-21 when Holiday joined the team, the Bucks are 10-19 (34%) ATS as a road dog, and against Western Conference opponents as a road dog, they are just 2-9 (18%).
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Memphis Grizzlies Prop
Dylan Wilkerson: There isn’t much injury uncertainty to consider for this matchup, which makes it a prime target for a best bet. Memphis will still be missing Desmond Bane, and Jrue Holiday is out with a sickness, but no other players are designated as a game-time decision.
The Grizzlies are on a similar streak, having won their last six games, with five of those being at home. They are one of the hottest teams in basketball and seem to be doing everything right.
While Memphis may be hot, they give up over seven rebounds per game to shooting guards, the third-most in the league. In their last three games, they have allowed over 11 rebounds to shooting guards per game.
Grayson Allen had 4+ rebounds in five of his last six games and is averaging 4.5 rebounds per game in the month of December. His minute share has been more consistent as of late, staying a lot closer to 30 minutes a game. This gives him plenty of time to grab these four rebounds.
If you are rooting for either of these teams, bricks may be the enemy; for this best bet, bricks are the foundation of the house we are building. Both teams are in the bottom half of the association in field goal percentage, so there will be plenty of opportunities for Allen to grab some boards.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Memphis Grizzlies Team Total
Jim Turvey: This Grizzlies offense is looking very similar to how it did last season as they score a ton in transition and pound the paint in the halfcourt. Memphis ranks third in fastbreak points per game, first in points in the paint per game and fourth in second-chance points per game. They are fast and strong, and that makes for a pretty excellent combination.
However, it does make them a bit susceptible to teams that are strong at limiting those specific areas–and that’s what the Bucks do. Milwaukee allows the eighth-fewest second-chance points to opponents, the ninth-fewest opponent fastbreak points per game and maybe most importantly, the third-fewest opponent points in the paint.
Brook Lopez is the leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year right now, and there’s a reason for that. He anchors a defense that is the best in the Association per 100 possessions.
The Grizzlies average a full point per game above this 114.5 number, but the Bucks allow a far lower per game total of just 107.6 points per game, making this a great spot to buy the under on the Grizzlies team total.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Utah Jazz First Half Total
Joe Dellera: The Pelicans and the Jazz face off in a rematch from Tuesday night. The Jazz blew the Pelicans out of the water, but I expect this game to be a bit more competitive.
During the first half of that game, these teams played at a blistering 110.0 Pace. Both of these teams play fast, but this was about 10 possessions faster than their typical average.
These teams only combined to score 97 first-half points, but I attribute a large part of this to Zion Williamson’s foul trouble. He was limited in his minutes, and this negatively impacted the Pelicans offense, especially with Brandon Ingram out.
This is a great matchup for Williamson, and I expect him to score in bunches and clear his 27.5 points prop as well. For a more in-depth breakdown on Williamson and the Pelicans, check out my Player Props Betting Forecast from earlier this week.
Both of these teams are in the top 10 in Adjusted Offensive Rating, and I expect their offenses to continue to shine. Moreover, by targeting the first half, we can avoid any risk of the rotations changing in the event the Jazz run extremely hot from 3 to start the game and give us another blowout. I’ll take the 1H over 112.5.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Utah Jazz Total
Chris Baker: I’m going back to the well here as I was on this on Tuesday, and it lost. The total landed at 221 despite horrible shooting from both the Pelicans and some foul trouble to key Pelicans players. Zion Williamson sat pretty much the entire second quarter due to foul trouble and ended up sitting the fourth as well because the game was out of reach. Ultimately, he only played 26 minutes while Jonas Valanciunas played just 19.
The handicap on this over was based on the Jazz not having the bodies to defend Valanciunas, Herb Jones and Williamson down low, and that was absolutely true when those players were on the court as the Pelicans had a 30.9% Offensive Rebound Rate and a 42% Rim Rate on offense. New Orleans got to the rim at well but shot poorly, making just 66.7% of their rim attempts, 29.6% of their mid-range looks and shooting sub 10% from 3 on the game.
The other side of the handicap was predicated on the Pelicans not defending the 3-point line well, and that also came to fruition as they allowed the Jazz to take 43% of their attempts from behind the arc. Similarly to the Pelicans at the rim, these shots just weren’t falling as they shot just 33.3% from deep.
This time around, the Pelicans will be without their best guard defender Jose Alvarado. With him out, we should see a lot more CJ Mccollum and Devonte’ Graham minutes. Neither of these two are on Alvarado’s level defensively, and I expect the Pelicans defense to look weaker tonight.
Finally, Mike Conley and Lauri Markannen should be more efficient tonight offensively. Both shot 2/7 from three in their first game back from injuries, but I expect them to shake some of the rust off here. Expect points in Utah and play this over up to 233.