Both of the NBA picks that I made for Tuesday night ended up being losers. I thought that the red hot Sacramento Kings would continue their winning ways at home against the slumping Boston Celtics, but the Celtics flipped the script on the Kings. After falling behind early, Boston outscored Sacramento by 25 points over the final three quarters to rout the Kings. Jayson Tatum had 36 points and Jaylen Brown had 27 points, while Derrick White had 20 points, 12 assists, and seven rebounds for Boston in the blowout victory.
The Oklahoma City Thunder knocked off the Los Angeles Clippers as a sizeable road underdog per the NBA betting odds to give me a loss on my second play. To make matters worse for the Clips, Paul George limped off the court with what looked to be a knee injury, and his status is in doubt for the rematch between these two teams on Thursday night. Given his potential absence as well as the fact that I bet the first game between these teams, let’s focus on the other three games for our Thursday night NBA picks.
NBA Betting Odds at BetRivers Sportsbook
New York Knicks at Orlando Magic
Although there was a bit of optimism that the Orlando Magic might contend for a spot in the playoffs given their play over the middle third of the season, they are too far out of contention at this point. The Magic should be ready to hang it up for all intents and purposes, as they currently have the fifth-worst record in the NBA and a 42.1% chance of receiving a top four pick at this point. This could be a franchise defining draft for the Magic since they have the Chicago Bulls’ first round pick too, and they have a talented young team that needs just one more star.
Orlando has lost both of its previous games to the New York Knicks this season. New York went into a bit of a skid after its nine-game winning streak with three straight losses, but the Knicks have bounced back with three wins in their last four games. Julius Randle exploded for 57 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night, and this team has shown that it can score since Jalen Brunson was signed in the offseason.
This is a bit of a tough matchup for the Knicks considering they have to face the Miami Heat in south Florida on Wednesday night. That game is a bit more important since the Knicks and Heat are only three games apart in the standings, but this is not a game that New York wants to drop, especially if we see the Knicks lose to the Heat the previous night. The Knicks have a strong eight-man rotation, and they should be able to use that depth to beat the Magic after a tough game against the Heat on the previous night.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets tried their best to maintain a top-six spot in the Eastern Conference after losing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Brooklyn hasn’t been a pushover with its new roster, but the Nets are clearly not the same team without two of the best ten players in the game. They were 31-19 at the end of January, but the Nets are 8-14 over their last 22 games and have lost four in a row.
We saw the Nets lose at home to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Donovan Mitchell had 31 points to lead the way for Cleveland, while Jarrett Allen had 12 points and a whopping eight offensive rebounds (14 overall). Darius Garland didn’t have his best game, but there’s a lot to like about Cleveland in the rematch on Thursday night.
This is kind of like a home game for Cleveland in that the Cavaliers have spent their last few days here as a result of the back-to-back games with the Nets. They don’t have to deal with travel fatigue, and we are late enough in the season that teams are focusing on the playoffs instead of regular season distractions. That will allow Cleveland to get the job done in the Big Apple, so the Cavaliers should cover the NBA betting line.