The NBA offers a limited slate of games to bet Thursday night, and for one reason or another we found each contest tough to handicap. After careful investigation, we found two matches where the cover will cash.
Spurs vs. Bulls
San Antonio, basically as healthy as it's been all season, visits Chicago, which is not.
The Spurs have won four games in a row, and six of their last seven, after winning at Denver Tuesday night 109-99, covering as eight-point road favorites. San Antonio only led by three after three quarters, but began the fourth with an 11-2 run, then hung on for the cover.
Parker, Duncan and Ginobili all played Tuesday night, as did Kawhi Leonard, who's back after missing time with a hand injury. Since his return the Spurs are 3-0 both SU and ATS, winning three games by an average of 15 points per.
San Antonio actually got outshot by the Nuggets Tuesday 47 percent to 45 percent, but hit on 11 of 27 three-pointers.
Sunday the Spurs shot just 39 percent from the floor but beat Utah by 20, 89-69.
Chicago, on the other hand, has lost two in a row, four of its last five and six of its last eight, after falling at Cleveland Monday 108-94, coming up short against the spread as a five-point dog. And just before that the Bulls lost at home to Atlanta 107-99, missing on the spread as three-point home dogs. So that's five straight games Chicago has allowed at least 103 points.
Chicago has also been a terrible bet as of late, going 3-11 ATS over its last 14 games. It's also just 7-15 ATS at home this season.
The Bulls are also a little banged up at the moment. They're already without Mike Dunleavy, and now Joakim Noah has missed recent action with a sprained ankle, and will probably miss this game, too.
These two teams may own exact same records (27-16), but San Antonio is the better outfit, the healthier outfit, and playing on the road against a spread that's a little more manageable than it would be if this were a home game. We like the Spurs to cover the NBA odds tonight.
NBA Pick: San Antonio -5.5 at Bookmaker
Milwaukee -8 vs. Utah
Coach Kidd's Bucks, who have already won six more games than they did all of last season, host a cold Jazz team.
Milwaukee is 1-1 on its current home stand, after falling to Toronto Monday night 92-89. The Bucks shot 45 percent from the floor, and held the Raptors to just 40 percent shooting, but got outrebounded by 11 and missed nine of 25 free-throws. Big-picture, Milwaukee, a season after going a league-worst 15-67, owns the six spot in the Eastern Conference standings, and only trails fifth-place Cleveland by a game.
Utah, meanwhile has lost five of its last six games, and is 0-2 both SU and ATS so far on this road trip. Sunday the Jazz lost at San Antonio 89-69, and Wednesday they lost at Cleveland 106-92. Utah came up short ATS as 12-point dogs against the Spurs, and as 10-point dogs against the Cavs.
The Bucks have been one of the best bets in basketball so far this season, going 27-14 ATS, in large part because they've been playing some decent defense. For the season they rank fifth in FG defense, holding foes to just under 44 percent shooting, and they've held 11 of their last 12 opponents to 95 points or less. They also just got a little healthier, with the recent return of F Ersan Ilyasova.
Finally, Milwaukee is an amazing 15-3 ATS this season following a SU defeat.
The line on this game is slightly inflated toward the home team, but we will place our NBA pick on the Bucks for the win and the cover.
NBA Pick: Milwaukee -8 at 5Dimes