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Jonathan Macri previews Thursday's NBA games and gives us his picks

Only six games on the Thursday slate, but a few of them present nice opportunities to take advantage of clear betting trends as tank season continues for some while the playoff push intensifies for others.

Orlando Magic vs. New York Knicks

Despite an eight-game losing streak that has precipitated their free fall to 14th in the Eastern Conference standings and near the top of the lottery odds list, the Magic continue to fight. They’re 3-4-1 against the spread over this recent stretch of losing, and that’s despite playing some solid opponents, including the Jazz, Nets, Mavs, Spurs and Heat twice.

In New York, they’ll get a team that isn’t quite in the same caliber as some of those others, what with a dead even net rating and record that stands a game under .500, but they have more than held their own since their post-break blowout at the hands of the Bucks. The Knicks have covered their last three games, which include a blowout win in Oklahoma City and two heartbreakingly close losses in Brooklyn and Philadelphia.

They will go into this one fully motivated, as New York’s second half schedule doesn’t offer many soft spots. They also owe the Magic one after losing by 18 in Orlando a month ago.

Offensively, the Knicks have figured some things out since that 89-point showing, and actually have the 16th best offensive rating in basketball over their last 15 games. Derrick Rose has helped them achieve that lofty (for them) ranking, but he may be out yet again due to health and safety protocols.

Regardless, New York has shown the ability to put away bad teams lately even without Rose, and this should be no different. They’re 6-1 as a home favorite, which is the best mark in basketball, and this result will push that winning percentage even higher.

The Pick: New York -7 @ -105 (Click To Bet)

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Phoenix Suns

After a momentary blip against a Pacers team buoyed by the return of Caris LeVert, the Suns got back to their winning ways with a 23-point victory against the Memphis Grizzlies.

That makes it just four losses on the court and against the spread for the Suns since January 27 – the best stretch of basketball any team has played this season outside of the run Utah was on until recently.

Now they face a Timberwolves team who has been feeling good about itself, with two wins in its last four games. They had covered three straight before dropping a road game to the Lakers by 16 on Tuesday, but even that game saw them remain mostly competitive until nearly the end.

But the Suns are a different animal from the teams they’ve been facing lately (two against the Blazers and one in New Orleans). Even the Lakers haven’t been themselves without AD.

Phoenix has simply done nothing to make you believe that they’re not worth backing every time they touch the court. No team is better against the spread this season, and with a cover here, the Suns will hit the elusive 70 percent success rate against the spread. Yes, they’re that safe of a bet.

The Pick: Phoenix -10.5 @ -108 (Click To Bet)

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Other NBA Games

Utah Jazz at Washington Wizards

After running roughshod over the league for most of the year, it’s been a bit unsettling to see the Jazz struggle of late. They failed to cover four in a row before beating the spread against Boston, but even that was a one-point game with four minutes remaining. The Wizards continue to be an enigma, and even though they had lost four in a row and six of seven coming into Wednesday night, they were also 10-5 against the spread in their last 15. This is probably a stay away, but back the home dog if you must.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Atlanta Hawks

Ride the Hawks and their new coach bump until the wheels fall off. They’ve now won six straight and are 4-1-1 against the spread under new head man Nate McMillan. The Thunder, meanwhile, have lost by more than 20 in two of their three games, and Atlanta has more than enough firepower to make it three of four.

New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers

Two of the more unpredictable teams in basketball. This is the second time in three days these squads are facing off, and the first game was won by Portland by a single point after they trailed by 17 in the fourth. Another stay away, but the Pels probably won’t let up if they’re up big again.

Charlotte Hornets at Los Angeles Lakers

LA has covered four straight, and while those games have all come against teams with a .500 or worse record, the Hornets are only barely above the median. Charlotte is also playing this game one night after a bout in Denver, so they’ll be feeling it far more than their world champ opponents, who need the game to keep pace in the West. Back LeBron here.

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NBA Expert Picks

(Click Odds To Bet)

New York -7 @ -105 (Click To Bet)

Phoenix -10.5 @ -108 (Click To Bet)

NBA Free Picks

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Article Author


Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball that Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.


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