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NBA Best Bets of the Day (4/4)

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Welcome to Hoops with Noops! It’s time for a TNT Thursday of NBA action. Teams are playing their last six or seven games of the season, which means every win counts more than ever. The final Play-In Tournament spot in the Western Conference, the 6 seed in both conferences and the top seed in the West are all up for grabs and will be impacted greatly by Thursday’s results.

 

The Play-In Tournament was designed to make games at the end of the season more important, and Thursday shows us just how successful that has been. Veteran teams tend to rest players once they have locked in their spot in the postseason and with less guaranteed places in the playoffs we have seen a higher level of competition in March and April.

Let’s go through each game, see what’s on the line, what might happen, and try to find some value in the betting markets. 

NBA Best Bets for Thursday

Sacramento Kings at New York Knicks

Current Line – Knicks -3, 213.5
My Projection – Knicks 110, Kings 103
Key InjuriesOG Anunoby, Julius Randle, Malik Monk and Kevin Huerter are out. Josh Hart and Mitchell Robinson are questionable.

The Kings have rebounded a bit, winning their last two games, but this is a rough schedule spot. The beat the Clippers Tuesday in Sacramento, flew across the country to play here, and have to go up to Boston to play Saturday night. The Kings are also missing two players who are important to their success despite not being the best players on the team. Malik Monk is in a tight race for the Sixth Man of the Year award and rightfully so after being Sacramento’s only good source of points off the bench. The Kings starting lineup is full of offensively gifted players, but the bench is mostly made up of strong defenders. They fit perfectly next to Monk who is happy to shoot as much as he can, but without him the second unit has struggled. Kevin Huerter was the starting shooting guard and often played the role of point guard, allowing De’Aaron Fox to play off ball. Keon Ellis has provided better defense, but has forced Fox back onto the ball which limits flexibility for the Kings offense. Sacramento is still a good team, but the market hasn’t adjusted them down enough for these injuries.

Speaking of adjustments, it looks like the Knicks have been bumped down after three consecutive losses. Looking closer at those games, I’m not sure that adjustment is correct. New York lost to the Spurs in overtime in San Antonio. Victor Wembanyama played arguably his best game of the season with 40 points and 20 rebounds. The Knicks then lost to the Thunder on a last second shot by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Their most recent loss was an odd, one game road trip to Miami where the Heat made 17 of 38 three pointers. Losing is always bad, but those losses don’t bother me much. All three were close games against good teams or against a potential extraterrestrial being that is redefining what we thought possible on a basketball court. It’s also the first night of a back-to-back for New York, but Tom Thibodeau has shown us time and time again that he is always going to play his guys hard even if they have to play again the next day. I’d feel better if both Josh Hart and Mitchell Robinson could play, but even with both are out I make the Knicks much bigger favorites than the current odds. I’ll lay the points with the home team.

Bet

New York Knicks -3 (-115, FanDuel Sportsbook)

Not For Noops

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

Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat -2.5, 209.5

Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris are listed as questionable to play this game. Embiid played 29 minutes Tuesday, which was his first game since hurting his knee about eight weeks ago. The reigning MVP said he was playing tonight and he should given how important this game is for seeding, but there’s no way to be sure that Embiid will be on the floor. I think we’ll see on of Maxey or Harris play, but there’s just too much unknown on the Philadelphia side of this game. If Embiid and either Maxey or Harris can play, the 76ers are a live underdog, but we just don’t know. No bets on this game for now, but make sure you’re in the FTN Bets Discord. If I do bet something later, I’ll post it in the #nba-plays channel.

Atlanta Hawks at Dallas Mavericks -11.5, 228.5

This is the Mavericks’ first game at home after a five-game road trip and play the Golden State Warriors Saturday night. The Warriors beat the Mavericks in Golden State Tuesday. The Mavericks haven’t been a profitable team to back at home and might be looking ahead to Saturday’s game, but they should be able to win this one comfortably.  It’s the second game in two nights for the Hawks. Atlanta played in Detroit last night and won, but had to play Dejounte Murray, Jalen Johnson and De’Andre Hunter 35-plus minutes. It’s going to be tough for the Hawks to play their best tonight given the likely fatigue. I make Dallas a 12-point favorite with a total of 227. Those are effectively the same as the current odds and neither team is in an advantageous spot. I’ll pass on this game.

Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets +4, 228

The race for the 10 seed in the Western Conference could be decided in this game. The Warriors hold a three-game lead and the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rockets. If Houston has any chance to catch them, they need to win this game. At the same time, Golden State could stretch their lead to four games with just six games left to play. The Rockets are in this position thanks to an 11 game win streak, but if you look closer at those victories, 10 of them came against bad teams or bad defenses. Golden State has quietly become one of the better defenses in the NBA, seventh in defensive rating since the All-Star break. That should make them a bad matchup for a Houston team that has thrived getting easy baskets, which they will struggle to find here. I make this game Warriors -6 with a total of 227, which is a small edge on Golden State, but not a bettable one. Nothing for me here.

Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers +4, 221.5

Kawhi Leonard is out and Jamaal Murray is questionable. Without Kawhi, the Clippers are still good, but far from great. The Nuggets have been resting Murray to ensure he’s healthy for the postseason which they can afford to do as long as Nikola Jokic is healthy. Denver is tied for the best record in the Western Conference but are just the 2 seed currently because the Minnesota Timberwolves own the tiebreaker. The Nuggets know the importance of the 1 seed and homecourt advantage and are pushing hard late to get that spot. They don’t need their best basketball to beat this Clippers team, but I expect we see close to their best anyway. I make Denver six-point favorites with a total of 220, which put me close to a Clippers team total under, but I haven’t bet it. These odds look closer to correct than not, which means I don’t see any value. 

 
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