College basketball is still dominating betting as it enters the second day of March Madness, but we got a strong dose of NBA action last night and will continue to enjoy another solid slate on Friday night. It would have been understandable if you backed out on NBA betting on Thursday, of course. It was St. Patrick’s Day, the NCAA tourney just started and it just wasn’t a day loaded with a ton of intense matchups or superstar talent.
The stars truly come out tonight, as the likes of KD, Russ, The Brown, Boogie, The Beard and Stephen Curry are all active. There’s even more stars (this guy named LeBron James is playing) and some of the matchups are worth a second glance – maybe even third. Let’s break them all down so you’re fully prepared if you decide to add some NBA bets to your docket tonight:
Cavs @ Magic
Line: Cavs -7.5 Total: 211.5
This has not been a series the Magic have enjoyed, as Cleveland has won all three meetings this year, and done so with ease. The first meeting produced 220 total points, but Orlando didn’t put up much of a fight in the other two blowout losses. The Magic do tend to play their best ball at home (18-16 at the Amway Center), but that may not mean much against the best team the Eastern Conference has to offer. Nikola Vucevic has been ruled out and Elfrid Payton is also questionable, further hurting Orlando’s chances to avoid a season series sweep. Cleveland has also said they won’t be resting their stars, so there is little reason not to buy the Cavs covering tonight.
Pick: Cavs 108, Magic 96
Blazers @ Pelicans
Line: Blazers -1 Total: 218
Bettors can prepare for one of the more explosive games of the night when Portland travels to New Orleans to take on the Pelicans. The Blazers hold a 2-1 season series edge, but only one of these games has been competitive, so it’s anyone’s guess if we get a tight game here. It’s tough to have much faith in New Orleans, as they’ve been dealing with a litany of injuries and even when Anthony Davis is putting up huge numbers, they still can’t seem to buy wins. That could change tonight, as Portland is rather suspect (14-22) on the road and have been reeling in general (lost two straight, 4-6 over last 10 games). Look for New Orleans to take care of business on their home floor).
Pick: Pelicans 109, Blazers 102
Thunder @ 76ers
Line: Thunder -16 Total: 219.5
Philly continues to be all kinds of awful, while injuries to Robert Covington and Jahlil Okafor (both out) further complicate things. OKC won big in the only other meeting between these two teams and it’s quite clearly a mismatch. Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant should do as they please in a blowout win.
Pick: Thunder 113, Sixers 92
Kings @ Pistons
Line: Pistons -7 Total: 218
It’s round two of Boogie vs. Andre Drummond, a battle in which the Kings got the last laugh earlier this year in Sacramento. Detroit is a very tough team to judge right now, as they’re coming off two straight losses (one atrocious one to Washington). They still have a shot at the playoffs and are at home (where they’re 19-12), and they will surely want to avoid losing the season series to Sacramento. There’s a good chance they get the win, as the Kings are reeling (2-8 in last 10 games) and have a tough time away from home (12-21 on the road). Rajon Rondo is also iffy for this one, which doesn’t help the Kings.
Pick: Pistons 104, Kings 98
Celtics @ Raptors
Line: Raptors -1.5 Total: 211
Toronto and Boston have gotten together for two high-scoring, intense affairs so far this year, but the Raptors have stolen both games. Boston still has a chance to even the season series (game two coming in five days), and tonight the Raptors could be resting star point guard Kyle Lowry. If Lowry sits, we like Boston’s chances to stage the minor upset. If Lowry plays, look for Toronto to continue their dominance and cover in a home win (26-8 at Air Canada Centre).
Pick: Celtics 105, Raptors 102
Timberwolves @ Rockets
Line: Rockets -8.5 Total: 224
Here is another contest that should yield plenty of points, as evidenced by an intense 107-104 win by the Rockets in Houston earlier this year. Minnesota doesn’t win much – especially on the road (11-24) – but they have the young guns to give the Rockets a run for their money. Houston was awful in a recent loss to the Clippers, though, and something tells me they’ll want to bounce back in a big way. The Timberwolves could be pesky here, so though I don’t think they’ll win, I do think they can beat the spread.
Pick: Rockets 106, Timberwolves 102
Warriors @ Mavs
Line: Warriors -8.5 Total: 224
Stephen Curry and the defending champion Warriors continue their chase of history, and tonight it lands them in Dallas against Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs. Dallas has been falling apart lately (4-6 in last 10 games), but they’re at home (19-16) and can run offensively with just about anyone. After all, that’s where they found a way to beat these very Warriors back in December. Stephen Curry missed that game and will be on hand for this one, though, so it’s tough not to favor Golden State.
Pick: Warriors 107, Mavs 101
Suns @ Lakers
Line: Lakers -3 Total: 214.5
The last game of the night comes between the Suns and Lakers, who have so far split their season series (1-1). The Lakers won a shootout at the Staples Center (120-101) back in November, while the Suns took an odd defensive battle in early January. Kobe Bryant remains questionable (shoulder) to suit up for this one, but with or without him, it’s tough to go against Vegas here. The Lakers are at their best at home, while Phoenix is one of the worst road teams in the league (6-28). I expect a close game with a lot of points, but the Lakers should squeak this one out to take the series lead.
Pick: Lakers 108, Suns 106