NBA bettors only get three games to play with Thursday night, but what the hell, we'll take a shot at all three. Here's what we've come up with for our NBA Plays of the Day for Thursday.
Hornets vs. Raptors
Toronto has also lost three games in a row, after falling at Phoenix Sunday 125-109, and no longer leads the Eastern Conference. Just before that the Raptors lost at Golden State 126-105. Toronto allowed the Warriors to shoot 53 percent from the floor, and the Suns to shoot 54 percent. On the season the Raptors only rank 23rd in the league in FG defense, allowing foes to shoot 46 percent from the floor.
The Raptors are also 13-3 SU, 10-6 ATS with DeMar DeRozan this season, 11-7 SU and 9-9 ATS without him; he'll miss Thursday's game, too.
Charlotte, without Al Jefferson, just beat New Orleans Wednesday night 98-94 for its third victory in a row. So the Hornets are 3-2 both SU and ATS since Big Al went down. Very respectable.
Bottom line for us on this game; Charlotte has beaten Toronto four times in a row, and owns a three-game winning streak, and is getting a dozen points. The Raptors, on the other hand, have lost three in a row. We like the road dog in this spot.
Free NBA Pick: Hornets +12 at Pinnacle
Rockets vs. Knicks
After losing at Washington Wednesday 101-91 New York, with 13 losses in a row, is the worst team in the league, at 5-33, two games ahead of Philadelphia and Minnesota in the battle for the most ping-pong balls in the next NBA draft lottery. Wednesday's 91 points was the most the Knicks had scored in their last five games.
New York is also just 3-15 SU, 4-14 ATS within the “friendly” confines of Madison Square Garden this season, 0-8 SU and 3-5 ATS without Carmelo Anthony this season, and 0-10 SU, 2-7-1 ATS without F Amare Stoudemire. 'Melo and Amare will miss this game, too.
Houston, meanwhile, just picked up a much-needed road victory, beating the Cavs in Cleveland Wednesday 105-93.
Houston has beaten the Knicks 10 times in a row, including a 91-86 decision back in November.
Bottom line; we said weeks ago we wouldn't play the Knicks until we saw at least a glimpse of progress, and we haven’t, so there's no way we can recommend betting on New York. On the other side of the spread we're a bit leery of giving so many points with Houston, at the moment, coming off the victory in Cleveland. Against many other teams we'd recommend a fade play on the Rockets tonight.
So instead of going against the spread for our free NBA pick here we'll look toward the total. Houston ranks 26th in the league in FG shooting at 43 percent, but fifth in FG defense, holding foes to less than 44 percent shooting. Maybe that's why the Rockets have trended toward the UNDERS by a 22-13 margin. On top of that New York has been held to 91 points or less six games in a row. We expect a low-scoring affair tonight.
Free NBA Pick: Rockets/Knicks UNDER 192.5 at 5Dimes
Heat vs. Blazers
Portland beat the Lakers Monday 98-94, so it's won 10 of its last 12 games SU, going 8-4 ATS during that run. The Blazers are now 16-3 SU, 11-7 ATS at home this season.
Miami just beat Brooklyn Sunday 88-84 to snap a four-game losing streak. At 15-20 the Heat still cling to the eight spot in the East.
Miami is also about as healthy as it's been all season, now that Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen are both back. Also, this is the first game of a five-game West Coast road trip for the Heat, and sometimes a long road trip can be good for a team. The guys can get away from the distractions of home, and concentrate on just ballin' for a week or so.
Bottom line; the NBA odds spread on this game looks a bit too much. Portland might very well win this one, but we give a healthy Miami a good chance of at least keeping this one close.
Free NBA Pick: Miami +9