NBA: Best bets and analysis for Thursday, February 29th

Jonathan Von Tobel (93-74-2 | Units: +13.8) gives his daily NBA best bets and analysis for Thursday, February 29th.

Feb 25, 2024; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward De'Andre Hunter (12) and guard Dejounte Murray (5) react after defeating the Orlando Magic at State Farm Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to my daily column of NBA best bets! Here at VSiN we have a ton of NBA content daily, so make sure to keep tabs on Zach Cohen who is doing an excellent job handicapping the league on a daily basis.

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NBA Best Bets

Record: 93-74-2 | Units: +13.8 | ROI: 7.6%

Utah Jazz at Orlando Magic (-5, 221.5)

Utah fell to 3-9 SU and ATS in its last 12 games after the loss to Atlanta on Tuesday. Since the trades that sent off Simone Fontecchio, Kelly Olynyk and Ochai Agbaji the team is 1-6 SU and ATS. In those seven games the Jazz have a -11.0 net rating in non-garbage time and they have failed to cover by 11.9 points per game.

Those three players were key rotation pieces for Utah. Now, rookies Keyonte George and Taylor Hendricks are starting. Fellow rookie Brice Sensabaugh has averaged 15.3 minutes off the bench the last three games after playing 15 total minutes all season prior. That is a massive change for the Jazz, but the market seems hesitant to adjust.

We also get the benefit of backing a good team in Orlando. The Magic are one of the best cover teams in the league (36-21-2 ATS) and they are on a 10-4 ATS run in their last 14 games. Paolo Banchero has missed time due to illness, but went through morning shootaround and should play tonight. Orlando has also been money at home with an 18-8 ATS record. 

Best Bet: Magic (-6.5) – Playable at (-6.5) or better

Atlanta Hawks at Brooklyn Nets (-1.5, 222.5)

Atlanta has played two games since losing Trae Young to injury, and it is no coincidence this team is 2-0 SU and ATS in those contests. That is not to say Young is the reason the Hawks have been subpar this season. He and Dejounte Murray just do not fit together on the floor. When Murray is on the floor without Young, Atlanta has a +3.1 net rating. When Young plays without Murray the Hawks have a +2.1 net rating. 

The team works better when either guard gets to control the offense how he sees fit, and we’ve seen that multiple times this season.

In the minutes with Murray on the floor Atlanta becomes a better defensive team. When he and Jalen Johnson are on the floor together the Hawks have a +6.6 net rating and limit opponents to 110.9 points per 100 possessions. This version of Atlanta should be perfect to go up against Brooklyn which is 8-26-1 ATS in its last 37 games.

When Young went down I had the thought of consistently playing the Hawks as the season went along. The result was a good one on Tuesday, so let’s bank on that result once more.

Best Bet: Hawks ML (+105) – Playable to (-110)

NBA Best Bets

Magic (-6.5)

Hawks ML (+105)

Remaining Schedule

Milwaukee Bucks (-10.5, 218.5) at Charlotte Hornets

Is it possible Milwaukee is turning things around, or is it taking advantage of a soft portion of the schedule? Since returning from the All-Star break the Bucks are 3-0 SU and ATS. They have a +27.6 net rating and have limited their three opponents to 98.1 points every 100 possessions in non-garbage time. Milwaukee absolutely pummeled Charlotte on the road on Tuesday, and given the physical mismatches on paper it’s hard to see a different result playing out. The market would agree, as it has bet this line up to 11.5 consensus.

Golden State Warriors (-4, 224) at New York Knicks

Jalen Brunson is questionable to play with a neck injury, so until we know what his status is this is a game worth avoiding. Brunson is a massive piece for New York when they are healthy. This version of the Knicks – which is still missing OG Anunoby, Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson – desperately needs him. In his last nine games he’s put up 24.7 field goal attempts per game. Brunson is this entire offense right now, and without him New York will lack scoring and playmaking in a big way. The market has not moved much from the open, but should Brunson miss this game we could see this close at about 5.5 in favor of Golden State. By the way, the Warriors do get Chris Paul back tonight, but Andrew Wiggins is out for personal reasons.

Oklahoma City Thunder (-10, 240) at San Antonio Spurs

Oklahoma City is an absolute freight train right now, and it is not worth trying to get in front of it. The Thunder are 6-0 SU and ATS in their last six games. They have a +20.3 net rating in those six games and have covered by an average of 13.6 points per game. San Antonio has shown some life lately – it is 4-2 ATS in its last six games – but this is still one of the worst defenses in the NBA. The market has bet this up a point and the total is down to 238 consensus. Hard to argue with the line move here.

Houston Rockets at Phoenix Suns (-8.5, 233)

Bradley Beal and Eric Gordon are questionable to play, and Jusuf Nurkic is on the injury report as probable. Those three are enough to alter the spread if they cannot play, so monitoring the news will be paramount here. Beal is reportedly making progress with his hamstring injury and could return tonight. That would be a boon for Phoenix which already has a massive rest advantage after three days off. Houston is off a day of rest as well, but it is 3-9 SU/4-8 ATS in its last 12 games with a 108.1 offensive rating. Even against the Suns it is unlikely this Rockets offense can score consistently.  

Miami Heat at *Denver Nuggets (-4.5, 216)

Denver is playing on the second leg of a back-to-back so we have no idea what its official injury report looks like. If this number is any indication, we could see some guys taking the night off for the Nuggets. Denver has the strongest homecourt rating in the league, and this number would indicate only 1.5 point difference or so on a neutral with Miami. That is not actually the case, so keep an eye out for news about the Nuggets today. The Heat have Tyler Herro listed as questionable tonight, but Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are not on the report.

Washington Wizards at *Los Angeles Lakers (-9.5, 241.5)

Los Angeles is playing on no rest and is coming off an insane comeback over their intercity rival last night, but this is not a taxing scheduling spot for the Lakers. The only question is whether or not Anthony Davis or LeBron James gets the night off against an Eastern Conference foe. Washington is 0-12 SU/5-7 ATS in its last 12 games with a -14.7 net rating. If Los Angeles is at full strength this should be a matchup in which both Davis and James thrive.