Last night we took an exclusive look at upset specials with our NBA picks, and if you went with our logic, you may have won big. We pointed out four underdogs that were at least with a cursory glance, and when the night was over, New Orleans beat the spread in OT, OKC upset the Clippers in L.A. and the Lakers somehow beat the Hawks in Atlanta.
The two we really went after and vouched for were the Pellies and Thunder, but either way, those three upsets were very much on the map and hopefully you were able to cash in on them.
Tonight the NBA slate quiets down a bit with just five games, so we’re back to a regular preview piece on each game. If you’re thinking of doing any pro basketball betting tonight, lean on our analysis and NBA picks for Thursday night:
Sacramento Kings (-1) @ Orlando Magic (+1)
Orlando finally gets a break tonight, as they head back home to the Amway Center after an ugly three-game road trip where they went 1-2 and got housed twice. The Magic made big moves this summer to improve their defense, yet they’ve been absolutely atrocious in that department (allowing 105 points per game) and now they welcome DeMarcus Cousins and co. into town.
The matchup does not bode well for the Magic, as Nikola Vucevic is not a good defender and very well could get in foul trouble early in this one. On the flip side, Sacrmaneto’s slower pace under new head coach David Joerger is improving their efficiency and overall defense. If they can bounce back from a tough OT loss to the Heat, they should get a nice road win here and get to 3-3.
Pick: Kings 106, Magic 104
Boston Celtics (+10.5) @ Cleveland Cavaliers (-10.5)
Boston was seen by oddsmakers as Cleveland’s main competition out of the Eastern Conference coming into the new year, so we’ll get to see right away if that’s the case. Then again, the Celtics are down both Al Horford (concussion) and Jae Crowder (ankle) and will be playing the second game of a back to back set when they enter the Quicken Loans Arena tonight.
None of that is good news for Boston, who absolutely could still fight back against this unkind spread, but probably will ultimately wilt on the road. They’re going to be very good again this year, but beating the Cavs in Cleveland at full strength would be a reach. As they stand, a win and even beating the spread feels impossible.
Pick: Cavs 108, Celtics 96
Denver Nuggets (+3.5) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (-3.5)
Denver is hurting at shooting guard right now with both Gary Harris and Will Barton out for this one, but this still figures to be a fairly even matchup in Minnesota. The Wolves are a bit banged up, as well, with veteran point guard Ricky Rubio also sidelined.
This is a battle to escape the bottom of the Northwest Division at the moment, and given Minnesota’s home edge, superior defense and equal offense, we give them the nod. That’s largely due to a likely big game out of KAT, who has endured three tough matchups to start the year and should find work to be easier down low in this one.
Pick: Timberwolves 105, Nuggets 101
Indiana Pacers (-2.5) @ Milwaukee Bucks (+2.5)
This is another game that should be fairly fast-paced and hopefully competitive. Both of these teams come in at 2-2 and have shown two things: they want to run the floor and score points, but can’t stop anyone at the other end. Milwaukee has the ever so slight edge with this game at the Bradley Center tonight, but it won’t be enough to get to 3-2.
Indiana is still trying to see what works best with their new pieces, but they have Paul George and a more stacked starting five. The talent gap is pretty wide here and Milwaukee just doesn’t have enough reliable outside shooting. This one should be fast and provide points, but the Pacers should pull away in the end.
Pick: Pacers 102, Bucks 99
Oklahoma City Thunder (+10.5) @ Golden State Warriors (-10.5)
Russell Westbrook said tonight’s showdown with ex-teammate Kevin Durant is just another game, but we don’t buy that for a second. These teams hate each other and there is no doubt both will be fired up for this one – specifically Russ and KD.
The Thunder come in as one of two undefeated teams in the league, and the only remaining perfect squad in the Western Conference. It’d only be fitting for the Dubs to be the ones to hand them their first loss, but an OKC win early in the year actually provides the more interesting narrative. Not only would it drop the Dubs to 0-2 at home (blasphemy!), but it’d also stir up those “the Warriors are awful” conversations.
it’s going to take time for KD and everyone to click and figure it out, while the Thunder have better chemistry right now and Russ is just flat out possessed. Obviously Golden State is a big favorite here, but we expect this game to be competitive with a ton of chatter. OKC to beat the spread makes a ton of sense here and we’ll even go as far as to say they’ll get the win behind a huge effort from Westbrook.
Pick: Thunder 108, Warriors 106