College basketball is beginning to take over the sports betting headlines, but the NBA rolls on, with a handful of games to play with Thursday night. Here's our attempt at an NBA two-fer for tonight.
The Pacers are the hottest team in the league right now, with six wins in a row, 12 in their last 14 games. Tuesday night Indiana rolled Orlando 118-86, easily covering as a nine-point favorite at home. The Pacers shot 53 percent from the floor Tuesday, hit 17-of-34 three-pointers and 11-of-12 free-throws. That's got to be one of the best shooting performances in the Association this season.
With the cover Indiana is now 14-5 ATS over its last 19 contests.
At 29-34 the Pacers now own the seven spot in the Eastern Conference standings, while Milwaukee, at 34-30, owns the six spot. With a victory Indiana could pull to within 3.5 games of the Bucks.
Milwaukee has struggled a bit since trading Brandon Knight, who was leading the team in scoring at 18 PPG. Since then the Bucks are just 4-7 SU, 3-8 ATS. However, they have won two of their last three, after beating, by chance, the Magic Wednesday 97-91. So perhaps the new guys, namely Michael Carter-Williams, are beginning to fit in.
Also, Milwaukee has skewed toward the UNDERS by a 7-4 margin since trading Knight.
Indiana, meanwhile, has held each of its last six opponents to 86 points or less.
These teams have already split two games earlier this season, both winning on the others' home court. But at the moment Indiana is a better team than it was when those games were played, while the Bucks can't say the same.
The line on this game is probably inflated toward the Pacers by a bucket too much, but they are the hotter team at the moment. So while they probably won't shoot quite like they did the other night against Orlando, they should win this game, with room enough for the cover.
Free NBA Pick: Indiana -7 at Pinnacle
Rockets Dance with Jazz
Houston is trying to secure a top-four seed for the upcoming Western Conference playoffs, while Utah is playing for the future. But the Rockets might have their hands full with a hot Jazz team tonight in Salt Lake City.
Houston opened its current four-game road trip with a 114-100 victory at Denver last Saturday, then lost at Portland Wednesday night 105-100. The Rockets shot just 42 percent from the floor Wednesday, and missed 10 of 23 free-throws.
Still, since the All-Star break Houston is 7-4 both SU and ATS, as it waits out Dwight Howard's knee injury.
At 43-21 the Rockets own the four spot in the West for the moment, and sit just two games back of the two spot. But they're also just three games - a bad week – ahead of seventh-place Dallas.
Utah, meanwhile, has taken advantage of a soft part in its schedule to win eight of its last 10 games. The Jazz began their post-break run with wins over Portland and San Antonio, which are nice, but their last three have come in close games against Philly, Brooklyn and New York, and none of those teams are going anywhere this year. We're not trying to disparage Utah; it's just that this was a 19-34 team at the break, and we'll need to see more than just a 10-game stretch before getting excited.
Houston had already taken two games from Utah this season, by scores of 104-93 back in October and 97-82 in January. The Rockets covered that first meeting at -3, and the second meeting at -11.
Finally, the Jazz could again be without Gordon Hayward, who's missed recent action with a sore back. Hayward leads the team in scoring at 19.5 per game.
The Rockets lost a tough one in Portland last night, but we won't be surprised if they come up with a bounce-back effort tonight so take them with your NBA picks.
Free NBA Pick: Houston -1.5 at 5Dimes