The NBA slows down for one of it’s classic TNT nights on Thursday, with just four pro basketball betting opportunities gracing the schedule. Most of tonight’s action looks like “gimme” calls at first glance, but there is at least one interesting matchup, while late “rest” news could alter how we look at more than one contest.
Let’s look over tonight’s light slate and see what and where you should be betting:
Atlanta Hawks @ Toronto Raptors
Line: Raptors -4 Total: 199
This is easily the top game of the night per Vegas, as the Raptors are given just four points despite being the superior team and holding an elite 24-7 record at Air Canada Centre. Atlanta has the goods to stage an upset, but they’re just average (17-16) on the road and don’t have the defense necessary to stifle Toronto’s elite guard play. They handled the Hawks pretty well in their first game this year (won by 10 points), and while I think tonight’s clash will be closer, the result should be the same.
Pick: Raptors 101, Hawks 98
Chicago Bulls @ San Antonio Spurs
Line: Spurs -14.5 Total: 201.5
San Antonio hasn’t lost at home (30-0) all year, so you can imagine how hopeless tonight looks for the Bulls. Chicago will once again be without Jimmy Butler, who they probably badly needed to have much of a chance at stealing this one. It’s worth noting the Bulls did snag a win over the Spurs earlier this year at home, but they are absolutely atrocious on the road (11-19) and don’t have enough fire power to get the job done here. I do think they can at least beat the spread, especially if Tim Duncan or any other Spurs take the night off.
Pick: Spurs 104, Bulls 98
Phoenix Suns @ Denver Nuggets
Line: Nuggets -8.5 Total: 214
This could actually be set up to be an awesome game, as both of these offenses can get pretty hot and neither team plays much defense. Phoenix has really upped their level of play lately thanks to great showings from Devin Booker and Alex Len, while tonight they’ll likely want to get a blowout loss to the Knicks out of their mouth. Denver can be tough at the Pepsi Center, however, and they’ll also probably want to even up the season series (Suns lead, 2-1). Brandon Knight’s potential return (he dressed last night but did not play), could give the Suns a much-needed spark, and I think they at least make this competitive. Expect a lot of points, too, but with these two teams being tough to trust in general, betting on the Over feels pretty risky.
Pick: Nuggets 108, Suns 105
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Los Angeles Lakers
Line: Cavs -9.5 Total: 209
Kobe Bryant and Lou Williams are naturally in doubt for this one, and with the Cavs resting players randomly, we’ll also need to keep tabs on the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. Timofey Mozgov missed last night’s game, too, so he also needs to be monitored going into the last game of the night.
The Cavs are the easy call if everyone suits up for Cleveland, but playing on the road can always be tricky (hey, the Dubs lost here just a few days ago) and the Lakers have actually been (*gasp) good lately. Rookie point guard D’Angelo Russell and fellow guard Jordan Clarkson are tearing defenses up and Julius Randle is doing a good job down low. At full strength I doubt that scares the Cavs much, but if one of their stars sit out, they could be in for a fight. I still like Cleveland to win and cover, but if someone sits out, the confidence in them covering would naturally waver a bit.
Pick: Cavs 111, Lakers 101