This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.
We're now two weeks into this NBA betting column, so let's see where our record stands heading into Friday's seven-game slate.
Player props: 4-4. Spread picks: 2-0. Parlays: 0-2.
We'll try to improve on these marks by taking advantage of some favorable wagers that could prove to be profitable. There's certainly the potential for plenty of offense on this slate with the Bucks, Lakers, Wizards, Kings and Hawks all in action. All odds are obtained from the FanDuel Sportsbook.
Elfrid Payton, 7.5 Assists: Over (+106)
Payton has logged at least 28 minutes in all four games since returning from injury, including at least 30 minutes in each of their last three contests. With the Pelicans playing at the fifth-fastest pace (103.3 possessions per game) in the league and limiting the playing time of Jrue Holiday down the stretch, Payton is going to receive an opportunity to shine. He's dished out at least nine assists in three straight games and has a favorable chance to hit the over here with the Suns allowing the third-most assists per game (26.1).
Bobby Portis, 15.5 Points: Under (-118)
Portis got off to a roaring start with the Wizards by scoring at least 24 points in two of his first three games. However, he's cooled off considerably by averaging 10.3 points across his last four contests. The Wizards have started Portis in both of their last two games, but he only logged 17 and 26 minutes, respectively, so the change hasn't provided him with a significant boost in value. This is a tough matchup against a Celtics team that has allowed just 105.9 points per game at home this season, so take the under.
Lauri Markkanen, 2.5 Made Three-Pointers: Over (+102)
Markkanen had a monster month of February in which he averaged 26 points, 12.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists across 10 games. He also drained 2.4 three-pointers a night during that stretch. Just as important is the fact that he averaged 6.9 shot attempts from behind the arc during the month, which is up a full attempt per game over his season mark. The Hawks play at the second-fastest pace (104.5) and allow the 10th-highest three-point shooting percentage (36 percent) in the league, so taking Markkanen to hit the over with these odds could be a risk worth taking.
Otto Porter Jr., 16.5 Points: Over (-106)
To no surprise, the experiment of Jabari Parker playing small forward for the Bulls didn't work. He was quickly removed from the role, which left them with a gaping hole at the position. The trade for Porter was huge for the Bulls and has actually propelled them to win four of their last five games. Other than the one game against the Celtics in which Porter left early with an injury, he's scored at least 17 points in each game since joining the team. That includes two matchups against a good Grizzlies' defense. The Hawks are allowing the most points per game (118.3), making the over a great opportunity to cash in.
Portland Trail Blazers at Toronto Raptors: TOR (-5)
The Raptors absolutely embarrassed the Celtics in route to a 23-point home win Tuesday. They are now 5-1 since acquiring Marc Gasol from the Grizzlies with four of those wins coming in Toronto. That shouldn't come as a surprise considering the Raptors are 22-6 at home this season. The Blazers haven't been an awful road team, but they are just 14-15 there against the spread, including 8-12 against the spread as a road underdog. Look for the Raptors to come away with the win and the cover.
Chicago Bulls at Atlanta Hawks: Over 229.5 and Kyrie Irving Over 24.5 Points (+261)
Ignore the fact that the Bulls are averaging only 103.7 points per game this year. Adding Porter has completely changed this team. Case in point, they are averaging 115.3 points across eight games since the deadline. They haven't been great defensively during that stretch, either, allowing 113.9 points per contest. The Hawks are a bad defensive team that can also score in bunches, setting this game up with a great chance to hit the over.
Is the sky falling in Boston? Well, not quite. Yes, they've lost four straight games. However, that stretch included tough matchups against the Bucks, Raptors and Blazers. They'll be faced with a much easier task against the Wizards, who are an unsightly 8-24 on the road. This is a prime spot for the Celtics to bounce back. Look for Irving to lead the way with a huge offensive performance since the Wizards play at the eight-fastest pace (102.7) and allow the second-most points per game (117). The last time these two teams met, Irving exploded for 38 points in the Celtics' overtime win.