Welcome to the Thursday, March 7 edition of the NBA Best Bets column. Here, I’ll strive to identify one NBA bet for tonight I feel has profit potential at DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, 888 Sportsbook, and BetStars Sportsbook.
Depending on the circumstance, I’ll hone in on moneylines, point spreads, or projected totals. Sometimes I may even touch on multiple metrics. Then, I’ll take you on a fairly deep dive as to why.
Please note we’ll be referencing only legal, regulated sportsbook betting odds and totals here at PlayPicks. A “pick” is a wager that, as of the time of this writing, we feel confident recommending. A “lean” is a wager we favor over the other side. This play could end up on our card with the release of additional information.
Season to Date:
ATS Leans/Picks: 48-33-1 (.593)
Moneyline: 26-9 (.750)
Over/Under: 18-12-1 (.600)
3/7/19 NBA Betting Pick:
Indiana Pacers (42-23) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (48-16)
The Bucks were thought to be a solid playoff contender coming into the season, but they’ve exceeded those expectations and then some. They’re now a league-best 48-16, a cut above more hyped Eastern Conference peers Boston and Philadelphia. That includes an NBA-best 25-5 record on their home floor of Fiserv Forum, the site of tonight’s game.
Despite those numbers, Milwaukee comes into Thursday’s game on a rare two-game losing streak, road decisions to the Utah Jazz and Phoenix Suns. They’re coming off a five-game road trip overall, a grueling stretch that played out over a compact eight-day period. Milwaukee had the benefit of two days of rest on Tuesday and Wednesday. Still, that may still not be enough to completely restore their depleted reserves.
The Bucks’ home metrics are unsurprisingly and undeniably impressive. Milwaukee is averaging an NBA-high 119.6 points per home tilt. Then, they’re yielding a stingy 106.8 points per contest at Fiserv, which also ranks them in the league’s top 10. However, that latter number doesn’t mean Milwaukee hasn’t sprung a few defensive leaks at home from time to time. For example, they allowed 128 points to the Timberwolves in their most recent home game on Feb. 23, 129 points to the Wizards on Feb. 6, and 123 to the Raptors on Jan. 5. Then, factoring in both home and road games, the Bucks have allowed 114 points or more in four straight and five of their last six.
The Pacers have been overshadowed by the Bucks’ exploits within their own division, but they’ve enjoyed an excellent season in their own right. Their win-loss record suffered some when Victor Oladipo was lost for the season on Jan. 23. Indiana dropped its first four games after Oladipo went down. However, they’ve bounced back to notch victories in 10 of their subsequent 14 contests. Then, the Pacers are also currently dealing with the absence of Domantas Sabonis (ankle). Indiana is holding its own in light of that challenge as well. The Pacers are 2-2 over the four games Sabonis has missed.
The spread Thursday is particularly high considering the Pacers’ caliber and how well they know the Bucks. Tonight will mark the fourth and final meeting between the teams this season. While Milwaukee does own a 2-1 series lead, the Pacers lost only one of those two games by more than Thursday’s spread. And Indiana hasn’t made a habit of losing by double-digit margins this season. Of their 23 defeats, only eight have been by more than Thursday’s 10-point spread. And note that two of those came in that aforementioned tailspin immediately following the injury to Oladipo.
Finally, two other factors bear mentioning when making the argument for a Pacers cover: the recent addition of Wesley Matthews and Indiana’s elite defense. Matthews has helped provide a steady veteran presence at two-guard that was missing in the wake of Oladipo going down. He’s rattled off seven straight double-digit scoring efforts while draining multiple threes in each game. Meanwhile, Indiana comes in allowing a league-low 103.7 points per game, including a solid 107.7 per road tilt. The Pacers have held the Bucks to an average of 101.5 points over their last two meetings, a sharp downturn from Milwaukee’s 117.3 seasonal average.
By The Numbers
The Pacers are 33-31-1 (51.6 percent) against the spread overall this season. Indiana is also 21-20-1 (51.2 percent) versus the number in conference games.
The Bucks are 17-12-1 (58.6 percent) against the spread as a home team. That includes a 16-12-1 (57.1 percent) as home favorites. Milwaukee is also 6-4-3 (60.0 percent) versus the number when playing on two or three days of rest and 25-12-3 (NBA-best 67.6 percent) against the spread in conference games.
Finally, the Pacers have already notched a 16-point win against the Bucks this season and lost another game to them by nine points, just within Thursday’s spread.
The Final Word
The Bucks’ overall performance against the spread is among the best in the NBA and markedly better than that of the Pacers. However, this is a particularly large spread for a game against a high-quality division opponent. Indiana has handled itself well overall on the road this season, and although they have a losing mark against the number on the road, this game is an exception due to its points cushion. Therefore, while Milwaukee could well snap its brief skid here, I like the Pacers to slide in under the rare double-digit number.
The Lean: Pacers +10