NBA Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Friday, February 24th

By Jonathan Von Tobel  (Senior NBA Analyst) 

February 24, 2023 06:36 AM

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.

And those of you need a college basketball fix, make sure you check out Adam Burke's daily best bet column. The same goes for Andy MacNeil's NHL betting report.

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

**Lines are opening numbers

Best Bets

Record: 49-53 | Units: -6.05 | ROI: -6.07%

Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks (-1.5, 220)

Despite this being the first game out of the All-Star break for Milwaukee it comes into this game with Miami very beat up. Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful due to the wrist injury he suffered against Chicago, Pat Connaughton carries the same designation and Wes Matthews is out. In the possessions without Antetokounmpo on the floor the Bucks are -0.7 per 100 possessions, and their offensive rating of 112.2 ranks in the 32nd percentile of lineups. Their frequency of transition play also drops off the map, with only 12.6% of their possessions beginning with a transition play when Antetokounmpo does not play. In other words, this game is going to be low-scoring and the market agrees with that thought as 219 is starting to become the regular number.

Four of the last six might have gone Over for Miami, but their last two totals closed at 211.5 and 217.5 consensus. Their defense is elite with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo on the floor together as well, ranking in the 89th percentile of lineups with a 109.9 defensive rating. Miami also runs at the third slowest pace in the league, and this seems like a game which will be played the way it wants without Antetokounmpo to push the tempo. That should add up to a play on the Under.

Bet: UNDER 220

Best Bet Recap

Bucks/Heat UN (220)

NBA Games & Odds

New York Knicks at Washington Wizards (-2, 224.5)

It seems very likely that Knicks center Mitchell Robinson will return from injury tonight, and his presence would be a massive boost for the Knickerbockers. New York went 8-6 SU and ATS without Robinson, but its defense allowed 118.8 points per 100 possessions. When Robinson is at center this season the Knicks have a 111.6 defensive rating, and they outscore opponents by 8.3 points per 100 possessions. 

The betting angle to watch here is the total. The mystery behind Robinson’s status has it being offered in few shops as of this morning, but there are a few numbers of 227 on the board. If that is the predominant number I would expect that to drop. When these two teams met last it was Robinson’s last game, and that game closed 224.5 consensus. It did go over, but Robinson only played nine minutes before leaving with injury.

*Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks (-1, 225.5)

This is the second leg of a back-to-back for Cleveland, so always be mindful of jumping into these games so early without a look at the injury report. We know that Ricky Rubio will be available after sitting out the loss to Denver last night, but the status of Donovan Mitchell, who has been dealing with soft tissue injuries this season, is one to wait for. Meanwhile, this is the first game out of the break for Atlanta, so the rest advantage is massive, and it is also the first game for interim head coach Joe Prunty. The firing of Nate McMillan should lead to more consistent play for the Hawks, as it was clear there was quite a bit of noise around the team, much of it coming from reports about McMillan this season. In terms of betting, this is a situational handicappers dream. A team with an eight-day rest advantage in the debut of its interim head coach at home is going to be a spot some handicappers can’t turn down.

Charlotte Hornets at Minnesota Timberwolves (-8, 242)

Kelly Oubre is going to make his return from a wrist injury that had him sidelined since Dec. 29, and while the second worst offense in the NBA getting a 20.2 points per game scorer back might seem like a good thing, it likely isn’t. Oubre was also averaging 17.8 field goal attempts per game, and with him on the floor they were outscored by 9.8 points per 100 possessions. In fact, this offense might get worse if he starts to take away shots from LaMelo Ball, who improves this team’s offensive rating by 5.1 points per 100 possessions on the court. Oubre’s return might be why the betting market is moving so solidly in the favor of Charlotte, but I would be careful in overvaluing his presence.

Brooklyn Nets at Chicago Bulls (-1.5, 225)

Chicago went into the break on an 0-6 SU and ATS slide, and its offense managed just 99.7 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time over that stretch. There is little reason to believe this offense, which is now 24th in offensive efficiency on the season, is going to be much better. DeMar DeRozan is expected to return from the thigh injury that kept him out of the last two games, but his impact should be minimal when facing a team that has the wing defenders Brooklyn does. The betting market is creeping toward the Nets here, but what I am really interested in is the total. I had a hypothesis that Brooklyn would morph into an Under team with this new roster. Mikal Bridges and Dorian Finney-Smith are good defenders, as are some of the other pieces on this roster. There are also few shot creators to generate efficient offense. However, two of the three games for Brooklyn have gone Over the closing number easily. I will continue to monitor that theory, but for now it will not be something I consistently bet.

*Oklahoma City Thunder at Phoenix Suns (-8, 230)

Phoenix had its nifty run into the All-Star break ruined by Los Angeles last Thursday, but this team is still 11-4 SU/10-5 ATS in its last 15 games and playing much better basketball. They get a good matchup for them tonight as well, catching the Oklahoma City Thunder on a back-to-back for their first game out of the break. The line has dipped by a half-point to the Thunder this morning which is somewhat surprising as we usually see the market “charge” the team with no rest in these situations. Perhaps we are getting to the point where the market is now actively pushing back against the Suns, but it did that throughout their 14-game into the break until the loss against the Clippers where we saw betting support for the team before the loss.

Houston Rockets at *Golden State Warriors (-9.5, 231)

Golden State fell to 7-23 SU/9-21 ATS on the road in its loss to Los Angeles last night, so luckily they are playing this game in San Francisco. However, this is a back-to-back and we know that Steve Kerr and the Warriors like to rest key personnel in these spots, so monitor the injury report here. Klay Thompson played in the second leg of a back-to-back for the first time this season right before the break, so perhaps he will be on the floor tonight, but others like Draymond Green are not as certain. Golden State is a different team at home for whatever reason, coming into this game 22-7 SU/18-11 ATS on its own floor.

*Sacramento Kings at Los Angeles Clippers (-6.5, 235)

Russell Westbrook will make his debut with Los Angeles tonight, but that is a minor storyline here. The Clippers come into this game 10-4 SU/9-5 ATS in their last 14 games, with one of those losses coming to the Bucks when Kawhi Leonard did not play. This team continues to show its true strength when both Leonard and Paul George play, outscoring opponents by 11.3 points per 100 possessions in those minutes. Ivica Zubac will not play tonight, but Los Angeles has a +14.3 net rating when Mason Plumlee is on the floor since acquiring him at the deadline. The workload of Westbrook is unknown, but given the improved depth and statistical returns of this team when healthy it would not be surprising to see this number close slightly higher tonight.

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