The NBA is back! After a four-plus month layoff, the Orlando bubble will kick off with a beautiful double-header featuring the league’s biggest stars.
- 6:30 p.m. ET: Utah Jazz vs. New Orleans Pelicans
- 9 p.m. ET: Los Angeles Clippers vs. LA Lakers
Our staff is here to give their favorite bets of the evening below.
Thursday NBA Betting Picks
Matt LaMarca: Clippers vs. Lakers
|Clippers odds||+5 [BET NOW]|
|Lakers odds||-5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+190/-200 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||218 [BET NOW]|
|Time||9 p.m. ET|
I don’t know why the Clippers are underdogs against anyone at this point, much less a five-point dog. Yes, they are missing Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, but no team is better equipped to handle the absences of two players than the Clippers are at the moment. You could even make the argument that the Clippers would be better off funneling those minutes to guys like Patrick Beverley, Marcus Morris and Ivica Zubac instead.
As for the game itself, the Clippers match up well vs. the Lakers. With Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, they have two of the better wing defenders in the league to throw at LeBron James, who is still the key to the Lakers’ success. They will miss Harrell’s presence against Davis — he has spent the most time as his primary defender this season — but they should be able to piece it together.
The Clippers are my pick to win the title when all is said and done, so I will gladly fade the public and grab the points.
The Pick: Clippers +5 (I would play anything better than Clippers +2.5)
Brandon Anderson: Clippers vs. Lakers
Basketball is back!! We’ve waited so long. We deserve this, 2020.
No one knows what to expect in these games; we’re all guessing a bit right now. Until proven otherwise, my theory is that defense will be sharper starting out than offense. I think the shooting could suffer a bit in these new gyms, and offense is typically a bit slower at the start of a season, which this effectively is.
Both L.A. teams are under more than over this year, and the Clippers under is 6-2 this season when they’re an underdog. The Clippers look like they’ll be missing a whole cadre of players, while the Lakers are short on guards.
I feel like this could be a bit choppy as each team gets back into the flow. Neither the Lakers nor the Clippers have much to play for until the playoffs either, so if one team pulls out ahead, I’d expect the team trailing to go easy and not show too many cards. Lots of ways for this one to go under. But hey — at least it’s live basketball on our screens!
The Pick: Under 218 (I’d bet this down to 215)
Matt Moore: Jazz vs. Pelicans
|Pelicans odds||-2 [BET NOW]|
|Jazz odds||+2 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-123/+112 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||227 [BET NOW]|
|Time||6:30 p.m. ET|
While everyone fixates on the L.A. showdown (in Florida, because 2020 is weird as hell), I’m zeroed in on this Jazz-Pelicans game. The two combined for an average of 257.3 points in their regular-season meetings. The lines on those games were 223.5. The Jazz are a much better offensive team than last year and a much worse defensive team.
Even without Bojan Bogdanović, Utah has weapons, and Mike Conley appears to be feeling good. Meanwhile, the Pelicans can move the ball seamlessly in a juggernaut of an offensive lineup. The scrimmages have featured a higher Offensive Rating than preseason games and overall pace is up as teams knock off their rust.
Give me the over all the way to 230. The losing team in the three regular-season meetings averaged over 120 points.
The Pick: Over 227 (I would play anything better than 230)
Bryan Mears: Jazz vs. Pelicans
Let’s look at the totals of Pelicans games prior to the shutdown. Their final game against Minnesota closed at 248.5. A couple days earlier against the Mavericks, 240. Against the Wolves again, 247. Even against the Lakers, a good defensive team like the Jazz, 235.5.
And now we see a total under 230 because … the bubble?
I’m personally of the mind that the absence could hurt defenses the most: People think about chemistry with offenses, but it’s honestly more important on the other end of the floor where teams have to move in unison to defend sets and pick-and-rolls.
The Pelicans have also played super fast since Zion Williamson entered the lineup, and I think they’ll get the Jazz moving, too. Given that argument plus the trends Matt highlighted above, I like the over here as well.
The Pick: Over 227 (I would play anything up to 229)
Raheem Palmer: Jazz vs. Pelicans
Much has been made over the loss of Bojan Bogdanovic, who is out for the season after electing to have wrist surgery in May. In his first season with the Jazz, Bogdanovic averaged 20.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 33.1 minutes per game. The Utah Jazz are shooting 40.7% of their field goal attempts from 3-point range, and Bogdanovic was their best 3-point shooter, hitting 41.4% on 7.3 attempts per game.
How do the Jazz make up for the loss? The biggest benefactor is Joe Ingles. The addition of Bogdanovic sent Ingles to the bench to play the sixth-man role, decreasing his minutes from 31.3 per game to 29.9 and his PPG from 12.1 to 9.8. Ingles, who was Utah’s second-best 3-point shooter making 39.7% of his 3s, saw his attempts decrease from 5.9 to 4.8 per game this season.
In Utah’s final scrimmage against the Brooklyn Nets, Ingles launched six 3-point attempts in 21 minutes. Expect an uptick in minutes, shot attempts and points for the rest of the season from Ingles.
The market is still pricing this line as if Bogdanovic is playing, and the Pelicans play at the second-fastest pace per game at 103.96, which should lead to more possessions tonight. I expect Ingles’ props to be priced higher in the future so this is the best time to capitalize.
I like Ingles over 10.5 points. You can bet this up to 12.
The Pick: Ingles over 10.5 (PointsBet)
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