Betting preview for Thursday's NBA games


With their loss in Washington D.C., the Los Angeles Lakers officially clinched the under on their win total, but the story here is what this Lakers team is now that Anthony Davis is back.

Los Angeles is 1-3 SU/0-4 ATS in the four games with Davis back on the floor, and according to Cleaning The Glass they have allowed 1.145 points per possession in non-garbage time. That defensive rating might surprise some people reading this, but this is what this Lakers team has been this season when Davis is flying solo.

Before Wednesday’s loss, Los Angeles allowed 119.9 points per 100 possessions in the minutes that Davis was on the floor without LeBron James. Last night, the Wizards burned them for 1.149 points per possession, continuing the trend of subpar defensive play with only Davis on the floor. Yet, the market has priced them as a team much better than they really are.

When Davis was originally injured, there was a ridiculous notion that the Lakers would have been better without LeBron as opposed to Davis. That was wrong then, and these four games have shown us how just how wrong that idea was. Until the market corrects its perception of this version of Los Angeles, the Lakers will continue to be a regular team to play against.

It is NFL draft day so this will be a quick edition of game notes. I’ll be on our draft coverage tonight, so tune in!

Updated odds for every game can be found here.

Updated injury reports for every game can be found here.

*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back

The Main Event

Toronto Raptors at Denver Nuggets* (-4, 224.5)

Denver escaped with a win over New Orleans last night, and now the Nuggets find themselves in a tough scheduling spot -- playing their fifth game in seven nights. On top of that, this team is now 1-5 ATS in its last six games despite a 5-1 SU record. The market has overvalued them to a certain extent, and now they have to face a Toronto team that is relatively whole again. 

Gary Trent Jr. is going to miss this game tonight and Chris Boucher is still sidelined with a knee injury, but Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam have been making noise recently, leading the Raptors to a 5-2 ATS record over the last seven games. Toronto has been above average on both ends of the floor and outscored the opposition by 3.4 points every 100 possessions. Their defense has limited opponents to an offensive rating of just 109.9, which could help against a Denver team limited to 1.046 points per possession by the 27th-ranked defense in the league last night.

Nuggets bettors will also want to track the injury report today too. Michael Porter Jr. tweaked his ankle and was limping after the game. He told the media he would play, but it is something to monitor.

The Co-Main Event

Golden State Warriors (-5, 234.5) at Minnesota Timberwolves

Are the Warriors being overvalued here? Minnesota is 5-2 ATS in its last seven games with the 11th-best offensive rating in the league (113.9). D’Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns have finally been able to play together, and when they are on the floor this team is averaging 118.3 points every 100 possessions on offense. They are the statistically better offense than Golden State in those seven games, and their net rating is just 0.9 points worse. Is that a large enough gap to warrant laying four points on the road for the Warriors? On top of that Kelly Oubre is doubtful to play with a wrist injury, and the likes of Eric Paschall and Damion Lee are still sidelined. The Timberwolves might be a team worth playing in spots like this.

The Prelim

Brooklyn Nets (-9, 233.5) at Indiana Pacers

Brooklyn is still fighting for the top seed in the Eastern Conference and Indiana can make its way to the eighth seed in the play-in tournament. Both seeds are valuable, so we can expect a good fight tonight from both these teams. Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner are still sidelined with injuries, but their absences might not be the negative most think it is. The Pacers quietly have a worse net rating (-3.8) with those two on the floor together than when they are off the floor (-1.2). Does it mean this version of Indiana has a chance against Brooklyn?

The Nets have won and covered both games with Durant back on the floor, and they have scored 1.258 points per possession in those games. Indiana has a true wing defender to handle Durant, so if he plays it is hard to see him having an off night. Speaking of, this is the front-end of a back-to-back. Given how cautious Brooklyn has been with injuries, it would not be surprising to see Durant sit one of the next two games

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Matt Youmans: Heat (+8.5) at Nuggets. View more picks.


The Lombardi Line: Both the Nuggets and Heat shot poorly in Game 1 of the NBA Finals - and the total is down five points in Game 2 (219.5 to 214.5). Consider betting the OVER if you expect any positive regression. View more tips.