NBA Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Friday, March 3rd

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Welcome to the daily NBA best bets page, your source for analysis on the betting lines for the day in professional hoops. For updates throughout the day follow me on Twitter, and make sure to subscribe to the Hardwood Handicappers podcast!

All game lines via the VSiN NBA odds page

Stay up to date on injury news with our injury report page as well.

*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back
**Lines are opening numbers

Best Bets

Record: 52-57 | Units: -7.38 | ROI: -6.95%

Phoenix Suns (-6, 222.5) at Chicago Bulls

There are those who might look at Phoenix’s win over Charlotte on Wednesday and be infatuated with the idea of betting on the Suns. However, while Phoenix got the win and cover, it only put up 1.029 points per possession in the win and outscored Charlotte by only two points in the minutes that Kevin Durant was on the bench. This number is down to 4.5 consensus, which does make sense given the roles still being worked out for Phoenix. As we move forward, the betting angle for the Suns going forward is going to be Devin Booker assists. He went over his 5.5 assist mark in the game easily, and the market still has him at 5.5 shaded to the Under.

With all that in mind, this is a meeting between two slow-paced teams that play quality defense. Since the return of Chris Paul to the lineup the Suns have allowed just 109.1 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time, and that did not slip with Durant on the floor. They will face a Bulls offense which is struggling to score efficiently, and has managed just 110.1 points per 100 possessions over that same span. Meanwhile, Chicago’s new starting backcourt of Alex Caruso and Patrick Beverley is only allowing 93.3 points per 100 possessions. 

Bet: UNDER 223.5

New York Knicks (-1.5, 215.5) at Miami Heat

The Knickerbockers’ market rating is getting closer to its ceiling, and this might be the night where it’s become too high. When the number opened up for Miami’s game against Philadelphia it was a 1.5-point spread in favor of the 76ers which did not have Joel Embiid on the injury report. That number got as high as 2.5 before flipping to the Heat when Embiid was added to the report. As of this morning, New York is -3 at multiple spots which would tell us that it rates as a slightly better team than Philadelphia, which is not the case. 

Jimmy Butler is questionable to play with knee soreness, but he did not play the final 10 minutes of the loss to the 76ers so it is likely he plays tonight. This line adjustment is likely due to the Heat’s recent struggles (2-9 ATS), but if there is no adjustment by the market if Butler is active this might be a sell-high spot on New York. Instead, I will look to bet this game Under the total. Both teams can defend at a high level, and both rank in the bottom four in pace. Should Butler not play this total should dip even more, as he improves the Heat’s abysmal offensive rating by 7.8 points per 100 possessions, and if even he does play Miami averages a mundane 115.3 points per 100 possessions with him on the floor.

Bet: UNDER 215

Memphis Grizzlies at Denver Nuggets (-5.5, 233.5)

The Nuggets were slaughtered by the Grizzlies in that contest, scoring just 0.838 points per possession while allowing 1.571 points per possession off steals in transition. The Grizzlies still have the ability to score in transition, a strength which will be a problem for the league’s worst transition defense, but they are also 12-18 SU/10-18-2 ATS on the road this season. The betting market is starting to move toward Memphis this morning, and there are multiple shops at 4.5 which should be the floor for this number. 

This looks like a great spot to come in on the home team. Not only does their opponent struggle on the road, but there is a difference in this meeting from the last: health. Aaron Gordon was not available when these two teams played last weekend, and his presence greatly improves the defensive play of this Nuggets squad.

Bet: Nuggets (-5)

Best Bet Recap

Suns/Bulls UNDER (223.5)

Knicks/Heat UNDER (215)

Nuggets (-5)

NBA Games & Odds

Orlando Magic (-3.5, 227) at Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte had its 5-0 SU and ATS winning streak snapped when it lost a competitive contest with Phoenix on Friday. The Hornets are beat up, playing without LaMelo Ball and P.J. Washington, and they will be an interesting team to monitor from an in-game betting perspective. Charlotte is just 3.5 games behind San Antonio for the third-worst record in the NBA, or more importantly, one of the three spots which gets a 14% chance at the top overall pick. With nothing to play for, bettors could see the Hornets wave the white flag in-game quicker than usual, leading to some opportunities for bettors to bet against them early in the fourth quarter of these contests. 

Portland Trail Blazers at Atlanta Hawks (-6.5, 239.5)

Portland fell to 3-7 SU and ATS in its last 10 games after a loss to New Orleans on Wednesday, and to make matters worse it lost Anfernee Simons to an ankle injury. Simons is doubtful to play tonight which is why this number opened as high as it did. The Trail Blazers are abhorrent defensively, and over their last 17 games their 125.7 defensive rating in non-garbage time is the worst in the NBA. It’s hard to believe they will be able to contain Trae Young and this Hawks offense, so the loss of their second-leading scorer is a massive blow. Having said that, Atlanta is 3-6 ATS in its last nine games due to its own defense giving up 118.3 points per 100 possessions. In a game like this, where the total is now 241.5 there will be plenty of in-game opportunities.

Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics (-10.5, 228)

If you’re a regular reader of this column you probably know what is going to happen next. Brooklyn’s defensive rating since the trade deadline dropped to 125.4 per 100 possessions in non-garbage time after its loss to New York; that is the second highest defensive rating in the NBA over that span. As a result, the Nets are 1-6 SU/2-5 ATS in those seven games. Not surprisingly, the market has turned on Brooklyn and this number is up to 11.5 as of this morning. There is little value in betting into such an inflated number, but the Nets have shown nothing on defense that would have bettors believe this buy-low spot is worth their money.

Utah Jazz (-2.5, 234.5) at Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder might quietly be tanking once more. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is not only dealing with a hip injury, but is in health and safety protocols as well so he will miss yet another contest. Only 2.5 games separate Oklahoma City and Orlando in the standings, and should the Thunder drop past the Magic they would go from a 7.5% chance at the top pick to 10.5% which is huge. The market is moving toward Oklahoma City as of this morning, but be wary of the chance at getting burned by the league’s best tanking outfit.

New Orleans Pelicans at *Golden State Warriors (-5.5, 227.5)

This is the second leg of a back-to-back for Golden State, so monitoring the injury report will be vital as usual for the Warriors. Having said that, Golden State have won and covered four straight and is 5-2 SU and ATS in its last seven with a +7.5 net rating. Each of those victories have come at home, where the Warriors are now 26-7 SU/22-11 ATS on the season. Should the injury report show up as clean for Golden State this might be a spot in which New Orleans feels the impact of the injuries it’s experiencing. Jonas Valanciunas is doubtful to play once again, and both Jose Alvarado and Larry Nance Jr. are out with injury. This number is down to -4 which is normally what we see for teams on back-to-backs like Golden State is, but the injury report could bring this back up later today.

*Los Angeles Clippers at Sacramento Kings (-3, 241)

Kawhi Leonard will not play tonight, and Paul George’s status is a question as Los Angeles heads into this game on an 0-4 SU and ATS slide. These two teams met at the Crypt last Friday, and the Kings dropped 1.364 points per possession in a double-overtime win. De’Aaron Fox is questionable tonight with a wrist injury, which should keep bettors sidelined until there is clarification on his status. If Fox does not play and George does, this number will likely close at about 4.5 in favor of Sacramento, which is a massive flip from where this matchup was priced by the betting market just a week ago. It might sound crazy, but this could be a buy-low spot for the struggling Clippers should that scenario play out.