First off, let me say I’m very excited to be contributing to the 2023-24 National Basketball Association coverage for BettingPros. From the time my dad brought home those old-school football cards from work, where you circle the numbers for the teams you want to bet, I’ve been hooked on wagering on sports. The fact betting is so mainstream now is a dream come true, and I hope we can get into the black and build a bankroll together this season.
I feel so strongly about betting that I volunteered to get the word out to re-elect a state representative in North Carolina who introduced the mobile sports wagering bill. It was a very, very small part, but even if I encouraged a handful of people to vote for her, rather than the opponent, it was a success. It ultimately paid off, as mobile sports wagering will go live in the Tar Heel State in 2024, so I will not only offer up advice on these pages, but I plan to put my money where my mouth is and tail my own picks on a regular basis. No more drives to Virginia rest stops off the interstate, just across the border, to bet on my phone!
There are just a couple of Thursday night NBA games televised on TNT, as per usual. Let’s get started!
Thursday’s Best NBA Bets
Odds courtesy of FanDuel Sportsbook | All wagers are for 1 unit
Philadelphia 76ers at Milwaukee Bucks
The 76ers and Bucks are the last teams to play their respective openers. It should be well worth the wait, as Joel Embiid and company hit the hardwood in Cream City. This is a veteran-laden group with Patrick Beverley, Tobias Harris, and P.J. Tucker, while also mixing in some bright young talents like De’Anthony Melton, Tyrese Maxey, etc. Despite the melodrama with James Harden, the Philly roster is still strong from top to bottom, with plenty of depth to make up for his absence.
Harden was asked not to travel with the team, so Beverley and Maxey will do the lion’s share of the point guard duties until the Harden situation is settled one way or the other. The last time we saw Maxey, he fooled around and had a double-double, posting 15 points and 12 boards in the preseason finale against the Atlanta Hawks. He is ready.
As far as the Bucks are concerned, the Adrian Griffin era begins, and he should hit the ground running in his debut as head coach after the team went out and traded for Damian Lillard. He joins Giannis Antetokounmpo for one of the better one-two punches in the league. Teams are certainly going to “Fear the Deer”, as long as both can stay healthy.
It’s more than just those two, however. Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton know their roles and are tremendous secondary and tertiary scoring options, while also locking it down on defense. In fact, Lopez was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year in the 2022-23 season.
Looking at the construction of the rosters, the Bucks have a little more star power, a lot less drama, and overall they’re just a much more balanced team. Laying three buckets in the opener is a hefty number, but the home side should get off to a big start.
Bet: Bucks -6 (-110)
Phoenix Suns at Los Angeles Lakers
We’ve already seen both of these teams in action on Tuesday night, so it’s nice to go into Game No. 2 with a little bit of intel, rather than just getting an eyeful from the preseason.
The Suns opened with a 108-104 road victory against the Golden State Warriors, and that was without Bradley Beal due to a sore back, who remains doubtful for Thursday’s game. It gets worse, as Devin Booker is nursing a sore left foot, and he is also now considered doubtful to suit up against the Lake Show. Grayson Allen will fill one of the starting backcourt spots, but he was scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting in San Francisco. It’s likely either veteran Eric Gordon or Jordan Goodwin is the other starting guard. Gordon had 10 points against the Dubs, but he was also 4-of-16 from the floor.
The Suns still have the likes of a guy you might have heard of before, Kevin Durant, as well as Jusuf Nurkic and Josh Okogie. Nurkic debuted with a double-double, posting 14 points and 14 boards in the opener. Still, Booker did most of the heavy lifting with 32 points, eight assists, and six rebounds before fouling out. His production will be sorely missed.
The Lakers were dropped 119-107 in Denver against the reigning NBA champs, but the biggest stars shined through. LeBron James was good for 21 points, eight rebounds, and five assists on an efficient 10-of-16 shooting night, while Anthony Davis ended up dropping 17 points. It was a well-balanced attack, with five players in double digits, and nine players scoring six or more. The team also shot 34.5% from behind the arc, and Los Angeles should outproduce a shorthanded Phoenix side in that category Thursday.
The stars will be out in LaLa Land for the opener, and the home side is the play against the Suns.
Bet: Lakers -5.5 (-106)
Make sure to check out our other best bets for Thursday:
- Thursday Night Football Betting Primer & Expert Picks
- NFL Thursday Night Football Anytime Touchdown Scorer Picks
- College Football Week 9 Picks & Predictions: Bogman’s Best Bets
- NBA Same Game Parlay Odds, Picks & Predictions
- Top NHL Odds, Picks & Predictions