Thursday NBA Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for Kings vs. Knicks, More (Feb. 25)
Sarah Stier/Getty Images. Pictured: New Yor Knicks standout Julius Randle.
- There are only six games on Thursday's NBA schedule, but that doesn't mean our analysts don't have you covered.
- The crew has delivered four picks, with two coming in the Kings-Knicks contest.
- Check out the quartet's best bets below.
We have a pretty light card on Thursday’s NBA slate, with six games taking place around the country.
Our NBA analysts have targeted three games on the schedule, with two picks coming in the meeting between the Sacramento Kings and New York Knicks. Their selections include two totals, plus a player prop and side with value.
You can find the crew’s insights and featured bets on those contests below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Magic vs. Nets
Raheem Palmer: Oddsmakers just can’t make Brooklyn Nets totals high enough. The Nets are a league-leading 23-10 to the over and have seen their games fly over the number in 10 out of their last 14 games.
When you combine James Harden and Kyrie Irving on a team that plays at the eighth-fastest pace in the league at 101.34 possessions per game with the best offense in the NBA at 118.0 points per 100 possessions, you just aren’t going to see many unders.
The Magic don’t feature a prolific offense by any stretch, but they should find some success here against a Nets team giving up 114.1 points per 100 possessions this season that’s 26th among NBA teams.
My projections make this game at 230, so at 228.5 I’ll play the over.
Kings vs. Knicks
Kenny Ducey: Elfrid Payton will miss Thursday game with a hamstring issue, which is great news for New York Knicks fans clamoring for a change at point guard, and even better news for Julius Randle.
The All-Star has seen the biggest boost in Usage Rate this season with Payton off the floor, with an increase of 2% in 312 minutes, and his assist rate has gone up 1.9% to 27.2 percent.
Randle has always been known as a well-rounded big, possessing superb handles for his size and the ability to shoot, but 2021 has seen him showcase his playmaking ability as well. The 26-year-old had never topped 3.6 assists per game until this season, where he’s gone for 5.5 thus far.
With Payton now out, and two players new in the team in Derrick Rose and rookie Immanuel Quickley left at point guard, I think we could see Randle looked at as a facilitator a bit more here. New York is coming off a loss to the Warriors, which saw Randle dish out seven assists and he’s only gone under 4.5 assists in 11 of 32 games.
Everything is trending toward Randle racking up helpers, and the circumstances surrounding the game would seem to reassert that feeling.
As an added bonus, the Kings have the league’s worst defense, allowing threes to fall at a 40% rate, so there’s a higher chance than normal Randle’s passes to open shooters will result in assists.
Kings vs. Knicks
Raheem Palmer: The Knicks are 22-10 to the under for a reason.
New York has the league’s third-ranked defense, holding teams to 107.7 points per 100 possessions, all while playing at the league’s slowest pace at just 96.41 possessions per game.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau has built a culture of defense with the Knicks, who are holding teams to the league’s lowest percentage from behind the arc and just 59% at the rim (third among teams). They should be able to hold down a Kings offense that’s middle of the pack and scoring 112.4 points per 100 possessions.
While the Kings defense is quite problematic, the Knicks offense ranks in the bottom 10 in scoring at nearly every area of the floor. Despite the emergence of Julius Randle as an all star, they’re shooting just 58.6% at the rim and 36.6% from three, those numbers rank 28th and 19th respectively among NBA teams.
Overall, my projections make this game at 217.5 points, so I’l be playing the under here. I try to take a conservative approach when my number is that far off the market, because I have to assume my number isn’t capturing something. However, I’m just not seeing a high-scoring game in this spot.
Knicks’ games have gone under against some of the league’s best offenses, so I see no reason to not play another one here.
Wizards vs. Nuggets
Brandon Anderson: Something still feels off about these Denver Nuggets.
Oh, it certainly isn’t Nikola Jokic. The star continues to put up monster numbers across the board, and he’d be my runaway MVP if the season ended today. The problem is that he just isn’t getting much help.
Jamal Murray is no All-Star snub — he just hasn’t been good enough. Michael Porter Jr. is playing through some combination of back pain and flat out laziness. The team has also been besieged by injuries all season.
It looks like Gary Harris, Paul Millsap, JaMychal Green and P.J. Dozier are out again, once again leaving Denver without four of its top five rotation players. The Nuggets just don’t seem in sync, rarely looking like the team that made the Western Conference Finals last fall. The defense has been a problem, and so has pretty much everything outside of Jokic’s brilliant offense.
The Wizards, on the other hand, feel like they’re finally starting to find a rhythm. Washington was blown out by the Clippers in its last game, but the had won five in a row before that. Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook are putting up monster numbers, and the Wizards are starting to get more regular contributions from guys like Rui Hachimura and Davis Bertans.
And don’t overlook the fact Westbrook probably thinks he got snubbed from the All-Star Game, giving him a little extra motivation in this game.
There’s one other very interesting trend to note. Over the recent, six-game successful stretch for Washington, Westbrook has not made a single three-pointer. As one of the worst volume three-point shooters in league history, the surprise there is not that he’s missing, but that he’s barely even shooting.
Westbrook has attempted just 1.7 threes per game, down from 3.7 in his career. But he’s putting up 20.0 points, 11.5 rebounds and 11.7 assists per game and the Wizards are winning, so maybe this is a newer, better Westbrook. Maybe an even more efficient version of him.
Adding it all up and I like the Wizards to match Denver bucket for bucket in this game. The back door will always be open, and it feels like this game should be close late.
I’ll think about sprinkling a portion of this bet on the moneyline, too, since I think Washington can definitely win, and I’d bet the cover down to +5.5 points.