Stephen Curry,Dennis Smith Jr.
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, right, is defended by Portland Trail Blazers guard Dennis Smith Jr. during an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

NBA BEST BETS FEBRUARY 24

Patrick Werkmeister

The 2021 NBA Draft has a chance to be historic. 20 years from now there is a strong chance that basketball fans will look back in awe at what riches that year’s draft class offered, even well beyond the first few picks. Following a rather underwhelming All-Star weekend in the NBA, the regular season finally ramps back up with this exciting slate of games. While we’re still months away from the NBA playoffs, these games are still competitive and intense that feature the top teams around the league. With strong competition in both the Eastern and Western conference, there isn’t a clear favorite for the title, so it’s still pretty much anyone’s shot. However, there are only a select amount of teams that you can bank on getting a W night in and night out. With all of this in mind, here is what I love for this Thursday NBA action.  The 2021 NBA Draft has a chance to be historic. 20 years from now there is a strong chance that basketball fans will look back in awe at what riches that year’s draft class offered, even well beyond the first few picks.

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Hawks (+3.5) @ Bulls
From the United Center in Chicago, DeMar DeRozan and the Bulls host Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. The opening line for this match favored the Bulls by four points and they are now listed as three and a half-point home favorites. Last game out, the Hawks were able to handle the Orlando Magic by a score of 130-109 whereas Chicago was able to barely squeak by the Sacramento Kings, 125-118.  Currently, Chicago and Atlanta are at opposite sides of the Eastern Conference where they are 2nd and 10th in the conference, respectively. However, Atlanta is a much better team than their record suggests and the Bulls are unproven, despite their excellent rank. While the Bulls are 5-1 ATS in their last six games, Atlanta is an efficient 11-5 ATS in their past 16 contests. Atlanta’s roster has had injury problems for most of the year, which is partially why they’ve struggled and they need this victory. Conversely, Chicago has been one of the healthiest teams in the league and have had all of their pieces so far this year. Now that they’re healthier than they’ve ever been, they are in a great spot to make up some ground in the Eastern Conference starting in this matchup. Take the Hawks plus the points to cover on the road against an overvalued Bulls squad.  
 

Grizzlies (-3) @ Timberwolves
In this Western Conference matchup, Karl-Anthony Towns take on Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies. The opening line for this contest originally favored the Grizzlies by a slim one and a half-points but they are now listed as three point road favorites. While Minnesota is a solid 7-3 SU in their last ten overall games, Memphis is an impressive 6-1 ATS in their past seven games. Nonetheless, the T-Wolves are seventh in the West with a record of 31-28. On the other side, the Grizzlies have shocked the league with one of the best records in the league where they are 3rd in the Western conference. Although they will have Karl-Anthony Towns fresh off his surprising victory in the 3-point contest, MVP candidate Ja Morant has uniquely brought the Grizzlies to the upper-echelon of teams by making players around him better. I like the Grizzlies in this spot to stay hot and cover this margin.

Warriors (-9.5) @ Trail Blazers
For this west coast contest, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors travel to Portland to face off against Jusuf Nurkic and the Trail Blazers. With the second best record in the NBA at 42-17, Golden State comes into the match as nine and a half-point road favorites against a shoddy Portland roster. While the Warriors are a disappointing 0-5 ATS in their last five games, Portland is an impressive 4-1 ATS in their last five games. However, the Warriors were also 1-4 SU in that five-game stretch so they will surely be refreshed after the All-Star break. Following the trade of star shooting guard CJ McCollum, Portland has seemingly given up on this season where they also haven’t had superstar point guard Damian Lillard all season. Conversely, the backcourt in Golden State with Steph and Klay Thompson looks better than ever. These two teams have already met up twice this season where Golden State won by a margin of at least 10 points. Losses should be few and far between for the rest of the year since the Warriors are just weeks away from welcoming back big man James Wiseman. With the absurd advantage Golden State has in the backcourt vs Portland, this will likely be an overwhelming victory for Steph and the Warriors. Take Golden State minus the points against the Trail Blazers. 

  

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