Thursday’s best NBA bets feature three of the most fadeable teams ever to grace a basketball court: the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Milwaukee Bucks.
Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to December 31 inclusive:
If you needed any more proof that people don’t always act out of rational self-interest, look no further than the NBA betting marketplace. Who’s supporting the Brooklyn Nets (10-21 SU, 12-19 ATS) these days? How about the New York Knicks (9-21 SU, 10-20 ATS) and the Milwaukee Bucks (7-24 SU, 12-19 ATS)? Fans, mostly. There might be some single-game scenarios where a bet makes sense, but otherwise, these three teams should be faded while the fading’s good. Let’s see if Thursday’s schedule gives us any reason to abort mission.
Brooklyn vs. Oklahoma City (8:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV)
And for a while, all was Camelot. The Nets had almost all their players back, but then they lost center Brook Lopez (25.7 PER) for what looks like the rest of the season with a broken foot. Brooklyn is 1-4 SU and ATS since Lopez went down. But that’s not all: PF Andray Blatche (18.0 PER) is out until Saturday for personal reasons. That leaves Mirza Teletovic (13.7 PER) logging major minutes in the middle.
The Thunder (25-6 SU, 17-14 ATS) are without PG Russell Westbrook (21.5 PER) until the All-Star break after he had knee surgery; they’re 2-1 SU and 1-2 ATS without the former UCLA Bruin, with all three games going UNDER the posted total. That’s a small sample size, though, so I’m not putting the brakes on this fade train.
NBA Pick: Take the Thunder –12 (–105) at Pinnacle
New York vs. San Antonio (8:30 p.m. ET, MSG)
Finally, some good news for the Knicks: Carmelo Anthony (23.8 PER) is coming back after missing three games with a sprained left ankle. New York lost all three of those games SU and ATS. Getting Anthony and center Tyson Chandler (17.6 PER) on the court at the same time will cure a lot of the Knicks’ ills, but they’re still down to their third-string point guard, Beno Udrih (12.8 PER), and Kenyon Martin (12.1 PER) is questionable with an undisclosed injury.
The Spurs (25-7 SU, 17-15 ATS) have become very frustrating to handicap. They’re on a seven-game zigzag pattern against the NBA spreads, shuffling players in and out of the lineup and making it very difficult to fade or follow them. But the OVER is 20-11-1 for San Antonio this year, and 6-2 in New York’s last eight. I’m happy to take that option while we see how Carmelo’s ankle holds up. The NBA odds for this matchup were pending as we went to press.
NBA Pick: Take the OVER
Milwaukee vs. Utah (9:00 p.m. ET)
It’s easy to imagine thousands of dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers betting with their hearts on the Nets and Knicks, come hell or high water. The Bucks? They’ve quietly taken the lead in the Andrew Wiggins Sweepstakes (or perhaps the Joel Embiid Sweepstakes) at 7-24. But don’t look now: Milwaukee is 4-2 ATS in its last six games. Center Larry Sanders (18.7 PER last year) returned from an extended injury layoff last week; however, PF John Henson (20.4 PER) is out for at least the next three games with a high-ankle sprain.
Utah (10-24 SU, 14-18-2 ATS) was a must-fade earlier in the season, but rookie PG Trey Burke (15.3 PER) has played well since his debut on Nov. 20, and the Jazz are 6-5 SU and 5-5-1 ATS in their last 11 games. You call that tanking? The Bucks will show you a thing or two about tanking. The NBA lines have Utah laying just 5.5 points at home for this matchup, which isn’t a whole lot against the worst team in basketball. May the sphere be with you in 2014.
NBA Pick: Take the Jazz –5.5 at Ladbrokes