NBA Expert Tips and Best Bets | February 29

NBA Tips & Best Bets
Best Bets 2023 / 2024

There are just six games taking place across the course of our Thursday in the NBA, beginning with a couple of semi-but-not-that-interesting games like the Mavericks vs the Raptors, and ending with a very interesting one between the Lakers and the Clippers. It’s not a huge day of NBA action but there is still value to be found, and below are my three best bets for the slate. 

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Chicago Bulls

Under 219.0 total match points | $1.90 with GetSetBet 

Neither the Cavaliers nor the Bulls are particularly high scoring teams, and this line is set pretty low by betting sites as a result. But even 219 looks too high to me. There are a lot of reasons to expect this to be a low scoring game. For one, both of these sides are ranked mid-low relative to the rest of the league in terms of offence, with the Cavaliers 15th and the Bulls 21st across the course of the season for offensive rating. The Cavs, meanwhile, are third in defence, while the Bulls are 15th. Already that suggests that the Bulls, at least, will struggle to score, and when you add in the slow pace at which each team plays and the subsequently low number of possessions we will likely see in this game, and you have a recipe for a low number of points. The Bulls throughout the season play at a lower pace than every team in the league with the exception of the Knicks, while the Cavs aren’t all that much higher, ranking 21st in the league for pace. This shapes up as a game in which there won’t be a huge number of possessions and both teams – in particular the Bulls – won’t score particularly freely in the possessions they do have, and that is how their past encounters this season have played out too. In the first of those two games, the Bulls have failed to crack triple figures while the Bulls have just gone into the 100s, while the latter was a bit more high scoring but still short of this total. Those games have yielded 204, 200 and 213 points, all under this total. Betting on the under doesn’t generally make a game particularly fun to watch, but this looks like a great spot to start the day.

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Cavaliers @ Bulls under 219 total match points @ $1.90

Los Angeles Lakers @ Los Angeles Clippers

D’Angelo Russell over 17.5 total match points | $1.89 with TopSport 

There is no shortage of elite players in this match, from LeBron James and Anthony Davis for the Lakers to Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and James Harden for the Clippers. But as is often the case, those superstars aren’t necessarily where the best value is to be found. For me, D’Angelo Russell is the one player whose points line sticks out like a sore thumb, with NBA betting sites setting his line right on his season average, which isn’t really reflective of what he has been doing lately. Having been the subject of plenty of trade talk in the lead-up the deadline, Russell turned his season and potentially his career around in early January and has become a pivotal part of this improving Lakers offence, taking a pretty high volume of shots and converting them at a decent clip. In his last seven games, he has only once failed to surpass this total (in that game he had 17 assists, so it’s safe to say he was filling the stats sheet in another way) and has averaged over 21 points in that time. Harking back even further, he has also passed this total in 15 of his last 20 games, a rate of bang on 75%. Despite that run, which now stretches for nearly two months, we can get close to even money for him to do it in this game. Harking back 20 games can be fraught with danger because some of those came in the absence of one of the Lakers’ stars, but they’ve been playing for the most part during this recent stretch as well, and he’s nonetheless continued to score 20 most nights. The odds look well and truly in our favour in this one.

D’Angelo Russell over 17.5 total match points @ $1.89

Sacramento Kings @ Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic to record a triple-double  | $2.20 with PlayUp 

We all know by now that Nikola Jokic is pretty good at filling the stats sheet. He sits second in the league in total triple doubles for the season, interestingly enough behind his opposing centre in this game in Domantas Sabonis, who remains perennially underrated to this day. In total Jokic has 18 triple doubles in 56 games across the course of the season so far, a rate of around one in every 3.2 games, and on that alone the $2.20 set by betting agencies for him to get one in this game doesn’t look like particularly good value. But Jokic tends to go through lengthy periods of doing either one thing or another – sometimes he will have a number of consecutive games in which he scores quite heavily and doesn’t pass all that much, at other times he’ll do the exact opposite. In his past three games, he has very much shown a penchant for highlighting his passing skills. He has three consecutive triple doubles, but they have not just been any old TD – they have been huge ones. In those games, his stat lines read: 21-19-15, 29-15-14, 32-16-16. Those are truly crazy numbers, and all of them performances in which he has walked into a triple double with absolute ease. In what should be a relatively high scoring game and having achieved the arbitrary but nonetheless interesting feat which is a triple double with such ease in three consecutive games, his better than even money odds to do it again look very tasty. 

Nikola Jokic to score a triple double @ $2.20

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James is a sports writer from Melbourne, and has contributed to a variety of publications covering a range of sports including basketball, cricket, Australian Rules, golf and surfing to name a few. An avid fan of all of the above and more, James’ downtime is spent falling ungracefully off his surfboard, turning over footies and playing an out of tune guitar.