This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.
There are just four games on Thursday's slate, and most of the matchups contain a significant favorite. The closest line is between Miami and Phoenix, both of whom have been rewarding backers with a combined 12-1-1 record against the spread this season.
Let's see what everyone's favorite bet of the day is:
Nick Whalen: Clippers (-5.5) vs. Trail Blazers – DK 10:40AM 11/07/19
The Clippers come in on the second night of a back-to-back, but this time they'll have Kawhi Leonard in the lineup. Meanwhile, Portland is in desperate need of a bounce-back after an ugly loss to the Santa Cruz Warriors on Monday night. I don't think they get it. The Blazers were not a good defensive team even before Zach Collins went down, and now without him, they have no choice but to turn to Mario Hezonja, Anthony Tolliver and Skal Labissiere for heavy minutes. The backcourt will keep Portland in this game, but I like Kawhi and the Clippers to get back on track and cover 5.5 points following last night's loss to Milwaukee.
Alex Barutha: Heat at Suns, under 218.5 – FD, DK 10:35 AM CT Thursday
I think the public perception is to take the over here given the unexpected, exciting success of these two teams. We've seen the number move already. It opened at 216.0, but got bet up to 218.5 on the back of 84% of the tickets being written for the over, per the Action Network. However, only 35% of the money is on the over, suggesting big bettors are hitting the under. Miami and Phoenix admittedly play at a fast pace, ranking seventh and 11th, respectively. But they're both also top-five defenses. For the Suns, especially, I believe that's more sustainable than their ninth-ranked offense. Devin Booker won't continue shooting 54/50/90, and it's also going to take a lot to convince me that Aron Baynes is a 48% three-point shooter. In addition, these teams are a combined 5-9 against the over on the season, and Erik Spoelstra-led Heat teams are 117-153-4 against the over while road underdogs, which they are by a point. That said, I think this game might trend more toward a pick-em as the day goes on, despite early momentum for Phoenix.
Jeff Edgerton: Spurs (-4.5) vs. Thunder – DraftKings, 8 AM, PDT
Although the Spurs are favored, this line makes a lot of assumptions about the Thunder's ability to keep up with San Antonio. I'm surprised that Oklahoma City is 3-4, but let's take a look at their wins: Orlando, New Orleans and Golden State. Couple that with an embarrassing loss to the Wizards, and I think you see a team that doesn't match up with their defensive metrics. The DvP rankings aren't dependable at this early stage in the season, so don't let the numbers fool you.
Ken Crites: Jayson Tatum Under 18.5 Points (-121) – DraftKings (Noon ET)
FanDuel has Tatum at U 17.5 +100, but I'm going to play it conservative on DK. Jaylen Brown is returning to the Celtic lineup, and I expect him to get some solid run. But more importantly, Kemba Walker is returning to Charlotte and I bet he puts on a show. I wouldn't call this a "revenge game". Kemba's love for Hornet fans is obvious. I think he gets the green light all night. Hence, the under on Tatum. And if it's a blowout (Boston is -7), Tatum should get some rest.