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NBA Best Bets of the Day (2/8)

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Welcome to Hoops with Noops! It’s NBA trade deadline day, and as I type this several players are being swapped around with dozens of draft picks. Good teams are trying to improve without moving any of their key players. That means using draft picks with players not getting minutes to acquire players who can bring an element they need or bolster their bench.

 

Bad teams are trying to move any player that can leave this offseason or doesn’t fit into the team’s long-term plan. They are soaking up players other teams don’t want so they can acquire draft picks and assets to use in the future.

It’s fun to watch, but it makes betting Thursday’s games a dubious proposition. Any game that involves a team that is active in the trade market is a game that we have to wait to bet until we know who’s playing and who is going to another team. With that in mind, let’s see how things look for now, what bets we might make later, and maybe even find a bet to make now.

NBA Best Bets for Thursday

Minnesota Timberwolves at Milwaukee Bucks

Current Line – Bucks -1.5, 226.5
My Projection – Timberwolves 114, Bucks 111 
Key InjuriesKhris Middleton is out. Damian Lillard is questionable.

The Bucks play their first home game after a five-game road trip Thursday. The went 1-4 in those games, including a loss the terrible Trail Blazers and a 15-point loss to the Utah Jazz. That’s pretty depressing for a team that believes itself to be a contender for the NBA championship this season. New coach Doc Rivers has not yet figured out how to fix the defense or unlock the full potential of the offense. 33-18 is a great record, but they are just 10th in net rating and haven’t been consistently playing good basketball all season. They will be without Khris Middleton, who hasn’t been his best this season, but is a key player as a passer and scorer in the offense. Damian Lillard is questionable as well, and he’s the second-best player on the team. Put all of this together and I struggle to understand why the sportsbooks continue to rate this team so highly.

The Timberwolves are the third highest-rated NBA team at home, but only 10th on the road. It’s tough for some teams to play in another arena and especially against a nonconference opponent, but this looks like a great spot to bet on them. Milwaukee dominates with their size by playing Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez together without having to be more vulnerable to quicker power forwards. Well, no team is bigger than the Timberwolves who have size at every position, the runaway leader for Defensive Player of the Year, and the best defense in the NBA. Minnesota’s only problem this season has been their offense which has struggled to be better than average. Luckily for them, the Bucks have the 18th worst defensive rating in the league and don’t have a single player that will be able to slow down Anthony Edwards. I love this matchup for Minnesota and my projections make them a three point favorite. I’ll happily bet them on the moneyline to win the game at +100.

Bet

Minnesota Timberwolves ML (+100, Caesars)

Not For Noops

Games I’m not betting and why I’m not betting them.

San Antonio Spurs at Orlando Magic -11, 223.5

This is a bad schedule spot for the Spurs, but probably too big of a spread to lay with the Magic. San Antonio played Wednesday night in Miami. Victor Vembanyama was in the lineup then, which means he is likely out of this game — Gregg Popovich has been sitting Wembanyama in part of every back-to-back this season. That means we’ll have the worst version of an already bad Spurs team, but I think 11 is too big of a spread. The Magic are healthy and outside of getting crushed by the Heat themselves Tuesday, have been playing good basketball. They could win this game by 15, but my model makes this spread only 9. Orlando has a great defense and generally slows games down against bad teams. That makes it easier for them to win, but not to win by a lot of points. No bets for me in this game.

Golden State Warriors at Indiana Pacers -5.5, 250.5

I was really hoping to bet the Pacers in this game, but the market is offering us a bad price to do that. This is the fifth game of a five-game road trip, and they played Wednesday in Philadelphia. Golden State is a veteran team, and this is a particularly brutal spot for them. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see them rest some players, but even if they do not, the Pacers are nightmare matchup for a team that’s fatigued. Indiana is a young team that pushes the pace and attacks aggressively on offense. That is not the kind of team you want to have to face with tired legs. If everyone plays for Golden State, I make this spread Indiana -2.5 so I can’t lay the 5.5 until I know a few of the Warriors are going to rest. I’ll wait for a clearer injury report and post any bets I make in the #nba-plays channel of the FTNBets Discord.

Dallas Mavericks at New York Knicks +3, 233

OG Anunoby and Julius Randle are out, and Jalen Brunson is questionable. That’s a lot of talent missing from the Knicks. If Brunson can play, I like the Knicks at this spread, but it won’t stay here once we know he’s playing. Without the All-Star guard, there’s just not enough high end talent on the New York roster to best a Dallas team that will have both Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving together on the court. If Brunson is out, I may back the Mavericks if this spread doesn’t move too much. It should be a great game and we all get to see it on TNT, but we might not be betting it. Once we know whether or not Brunson is playing and the betting markets settle, I’ll add any possible wagers in the Discord.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Brooklyn Nets +6, 224

I make this game Cleveland -4 with a total of 222, but I’m not interested in backing the Nets or the under in a game involving the Nets. It’s a bad schedule spot for the Cavaliers who had to play last night in Washington, but they are far and away the superior team. Brooklyn is also one of the teams that will be active at the trade deadline, and we can’t rely on all of their players being available to play. The Nets shoot a lot of threes, especially at home, which gives them a chance in any game on the right night and makes betting unders at best, a scary proposition. There’s nothing of value I can see to bet in this game.

Chicago Bulls at Memphis Grizzlies +5.5, 213

The Bulls start a four-game road trip in Memphis on the day of the NBA tradeline. That last part is important because the Bulls are one of the most talked about teams in the trade rumor mill. The Bulls are not good enough to make a postseason run and there is good reason to at least start a soft rebuild if not a full tear down and rebuild. It’s not worth the risk of someone like DeMar DeRozan or even Alex Caruso getting traded just before the deadline to bet on the Bulls right now. I show some value on Chicago if they have the same starting lineup they did Tuesday night. The Grizzlies are basically a G-League team and could easily trade away a few of the good players they do have left on the roster. It’s Bulls or pass and we have to wait until later in the day to be sure it’s the Bulls. Check the Discord about 2 hours before the game to see I do bet on Chicago.

Utah Jazz at Phoenix Suns -7, 243.5

This is another game that could be messed up by a trade. The Utah Jazz are actively shopping a few players on their team while the Suns are trying to few assets they have left to make a move themselves. If neither team makes a deal, I make this spread Suns -6 assuming Bradely Beal can play although he is listed as questionable. Utah shoots a lot of threes and Phoenix is not good enough defensively to keep that from happening. That makes the Jazz a dangerous underdog because they can always have an aberrantly good shooting performance or just hit a few threes late to sneak inside the spread. Once things clear up, I might have a bet, but nothing for now.

Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers +3, 229.5

What a surprise, LeBron James and Anthony Davis are questionable so we don’t know which version of the Lakers will be playing. To add to the uncertainty, the Lakers are part of trade rumors that involve turning D’Angelo Russell into a better player. Russell has been a key part of the recent run of good play by Los Angeles, but it’s hard to rely on Russell being as good as he’s been and the Lakers have to take any chance to improve the team while the have LeBron and AD playing this well. The Nuggets haven’t played great basketball the last few weeks, but they are pretty clearly saving energy and their best play for the postseason. This game profiles as one where Denver plays their best to show a good team that they’re not good enough, but I’m not sure I want to bet on that. It’s also the first night of a back-to-back for both teams and although this is the more important game for both either squad could choose to rest players late if the game isn’t close. This game is a mess, so I’m going to skip it.

Detroit Pistons at Portland Trail Blazers -4.5, 229.5

This game features two bad teams that should be trying to lose games and trade just about anything that isn’t tied down for draft picks and young players that can help in the years to come. Killian Hayes, Alec Burks, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart, Malcolm Brogdon and even Jerami Grant have all be part of trade rumors reported the last few days. So, we don’t know who’s going to be playing, but we do know whoever does play will likely not be very good at basketball. Don’t watch this game. Don’t bet this game. Don’t even think about it. 

 
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