Two Potential Playoff Preview Game Picks for Thursday, March 23

NBA picks of the day image

Jordan Sharp

Thursday, March 23, 2017 3:55 PM GMT

It’s a smaller night of NBA games with it being Thursday and the continuation of the NCAA Tournament. However, even with college basketball ruling the night there are some nice NBA odds to take advantage of at sportsbooks.

Raptors vs. Heat

While the Raptors are struggling some, they did get a nice come-from-behind win against the Bulls two nights ago. It wasn’t until Serge Ibaka punched Robin Lopez in the face, but hey, whatever works to get the win, right?

However, this is the NBA and unlike hockey, when punches are thrown, there is a suspension. Ibaka will be out tonight because of trying to knock out Lopez, and with All-Star guard Kyle Lowry still out the Raptors aren’t going to have much to throw at the Heat.

I’m assuming Heat center Hassan Whiteside (finger) plays in this one, with the Raptors without two of their three best players I like Miami laying the points. Being without Dion Waiters does hurt the Heat some, but they have covered eight of their last nine overall and they are 8-1 SU and ATS in their last nine home games.

Miami is also 23-13 ATS at home on the year, so as long as Whiteside is OK to play, lay the points with the home team.

Free NBA Pick: Heat -4Best Line Offered: JustBet

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Grizzlies vs. Spurs

The Grizzlies and Spurs have created a nice rivalry over the years, and tonight should be a nice continuation of that rivalry. So far this season, the Spurs have failed to beat Memphis in two meetings, but I suspect that might change here. The NBA odds have the Spurs as -8½-point favorites in this one, but it’s the first-half total I have my eye on more.

With the total for the game less than 200 points, we have to find value in other ways, and the first half total might be the way to do that. At 100½, the 'under' is the play in what could be a slow-paced and very defensive-minded first half.

In their first two meetings this season from Memphis, the first halves ended at 40-40 and 43-44. While this one could be a little bit higher scoring considering it’s in San Antonio, the Spurs are holding their opponents to only 52.3 points per first half at home and 47.2 points per first half in divisional games.

The Grizzlies are also holding their divisional opponents to only 47.2 points per first half. If both teams are engaged in what could be a potential playoff showdown, I expect a lower-scoring first half. The teams have held each other to less than 100 points in seven straight first halves and while four of those came in the playoffs, when these two get together the defense is a lot like a playoff game.

Free NBA Pick: 'Under' 100.5 First HalfBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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