Luka Doncic
Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) shoots against the Detroit Pistons during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Dallas, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. (AP Photo/LM Otero)


Patrick Werkmeister

After a subpar 1-2 performance in yesterday’s best bets for the NBA, these games are a great opportunity to bounce back. While we’re still months away from the NBA playoffs, these matchups 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.


Raptors (-2.5) @ Hornets
From the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, LaMelo Ball and the Hornets host Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors. The opening line for this match favored the Raptors by two points and they are now listed as two and a half-point road favorites. Last game out, Charlotte was narrowly defeated by the Miami Heat, 111-107, whereas the Raptors were able to easily handle the Timberwolves, 103-91. These teams stand nearly right next to each other in the Eastern Conference standings, so these meetings could truly make or break their playoff chances. However, Toronto is a much better team than their record suggests and the Hornets are a young, untested squad, despite their excellent rank. While the Raptors are an excellent 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games, Charlotte is an abysmal 1-9 SU in their past 10 matches. Last time these two met, Toronto walked away with a 15 point victory. They’ve won by double digits in both matchups, so they clearly have the blueprint to cover a two point margin. As long as they stay as healthy as they’ve been, the Raptors are poised to make a run in the Eastern Conference. Take the Raptors minus the points to stay hot on the road where they’ve been steady all season.   

Heat (-5.5) @ Knicks
In this Eastern Conference matchup, Julius Randle and the New York Knicks take on Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat. The opening line for this contest favored the Heat by four points but they are currently listed as five and a half-point road favorites. While New York is a shoddy 1-7 ATS in their last eight games, the Heat are an impressive 6-1 SU in their last seven contests. Additionally, the Heat have had New York’s number on speed dial, where they are 7-2 ATS in their last nine games vs the Knicks. New York has had quite a disappointing year under coach Tom Thibodeau where they are just 25-34, coming off a season in which they were ranked 4th in the Eastern Conference. Although they may get point guard Derrick Rose back from injury, who has been out for 33 games, Jimmy Butler and company are currently the sleeper in the East to win their conference and have dominated opponents where they are 2nd in the East. I like the Heat in this spot to stay hot and cover this margin.

Mavericks (+5.5) @ Jazz
For this Western Conference contest, Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks travel to Salt Lake City where they’ll face off against Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz. With the fourth best record in the West at 36-22, the Jazz come into this match as five and a half-point home favorites against the fifth place Mavericks. While Utah is an impressive 5-1 ATS in their last six games, Dallas is also an excellent 6-1 ATS in their past seven games. Following the acquisition of point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, Dallas has slowly put together some formidable pieces around superstar Luka Doncic. They have almost exceeded their win total from last year and have made massive leaps for the race in the West. These two teams have already met up once earlier this season where Utah won by just four points. After a slow start to the season, Dallas has been playing their best basketball of the year and were barely defeated in Utah earlier in the season. With the absurd advantage Dallas has in Luka Doncic, this could be another night where Luka dominates the show. Take the Mavs plus the points against the Jazz.   

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