While Day 1 of the NCAA Tournament takes centerstage the NBA is still rolling in the background. Only one of Thursday’s matchups will make it to the national TV circuit — Magic vs. Suns (10 p.m. ET) on NBA TV — but there are five games total on the schedule.
Action Network’s NBA analysts are focused on three of those games for their best bets today and see value in a player prop and two spread bets. They break down their expert picks for Thursday below.
NBA Odds & Best Bets
|Click on a game to skip ahead|
|Denver Nuggets vs. Detroit Pistons||7 p.m. ET|
|Sacramento Kings vs. Brooklyn Nets||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Orlando Magic vs. Phoenix Suns||10 p.m. ET|
Denver Nuggets vs. Detroit Pistons
|Pick||Killian Hayes u13.5 Points|
|Tipoff||7 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Joe Dellera: Killian Hayes has played with much more volume while Jaden Ivey missed the past few games due to the league’s Health and Safety Protocols. In the past three games Ivey missed, Hayes averaged 15.6 points per game; however, Ivey is expected to return today and is listed as probable.
Ivey is clearly the best offensive player on the Pistons with their current roster and he should take on the central offensive role. In Hayes’ past 10 games playing alongside Ivey, he has averaged a paltry 10.3 points per game and has gone under his 13.5 points prop in nine consecutive games.
If you have Bet365 available to you, sprinkle on under 9.5 points under their “Points Low” category. He’s under this line in 61% of games with Ivey and (+290) is giving him roughly a 25% chance to go under. The line is too high.
Sacramento Kings vs. Brooklyn Nets
|Tipoff||7:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
Chris Baker: The Nets matchup with the Kings well as they have done a great job of limiting opponent 3s in the post Kevin Durant/Kyrie Irving era. They rank second in the NBA in opponent 3-point attempt rate in the 15 games they’ve played without Durant and Irving.
Sacramento’s offense is predicated around spacers surrounding Sabonis and Fox but most of these guys aren’t particularly effective when you force them to put the ball on the floor and play inside of the 3-point line. The Nets will have to run these guys off and force them to make plays off the dribble tonight.
Inside the paint, the Nets have one of the best rim-protectors in the game in Nic Claxton. Claxton should do a good job of altering Sabonis’ shots in the paint and containing some of Fox’s drives as well. Another added benefit of having Claxton at center is that he may be able to switch some of the DHO actions that keep the Kings’ offense moving. The Nets defense should be able to give this Kings offense some issues and force them out of their normal flow on offense.
Offensively, the Nets get to a go up against a defense that ranks 26th in the NBA despite playing the easiest schedule of opposing offenses this season. The Kings have been unimpressive defensively all year long and as of late they have struggled to defend the 3-point line. Over the past 15 games they rank 27th in Opponent 3-point Attempt Rate Allowed (40%) and 3-point Accuracy Allowed (39.8%). That’s a problem when facing a Nets team that gets up this many 3s and I expect the Nets to capitalize.
Additionally, I think this Nets team may be slightly underrated as they have played 10 of their 15 games together away from home. They’ve been on the road for pretty much all of March and they’ve played six of their past 10 against top-10 net-rating teams. Being back home should be a breath of fresh air and I expect them to cover this short number.
Back the Nets to cover -2 against a Kings team on a tough back to back here in Brooklyn. Play this up to -3.
Orlando Magic vs. Phoenix Suns
|Tipoff||10 p.m. ET|
Orlando is coming off a rough 132-114 loss to the Spurs on Tuesday. That marked the Magic’s fourth loss in the past five games, dropping them to 13th in the Eastern Conference.
Phoenix hasn’t played much better though. The Suns enter this matchup having lost three straight games, a losing streak that comes after Phoenix won its first four games of the month.
It’s clear neither one of these squads is heading in the right direction entering this matchup, but I think Orlando is in a position to keep this game close.
Additionally, Orlando has already held its ground against Phoenix once this season, defeating the Suns 114-97 in November.
The Suns are struggling on both ends of the court and are lacking a perimeter presence outside of Devin Booker. I think that opens up the door a bit for an Orlando team that has played well recently on the offensive end. I would play the spread down to 5.5.