Wednesday night brought a full load of NBA upset pick opportunities and we nailed one with the Charlotte Hornets protecting their home base against the Denver Nuggets. Another was quite close, as the Philadelphia 76ers barely lost to the Houston Rockets via a last-second shot by Eric Gordon.
Overall, it was still a fun night to try to aim high with NBA underdog picks and we actually saw a few upsets outside of the games we had our eye on. A huge one ended up being Lonzo Ball and the Los Angeles Lakers snagging a tight home win over the Washington Wizards.
We didn’t love the spot for the Lake Show to nab a huge win, but this gives us a great example of how cross-country travel can impact teams at times. There was also a lot of hype going into this showdown (Marcin Gortat tweeted that John Wall would “destroy” Ball), so we also want to always consider media and narrative aspects.
Thursday night coughs up a tiny five-game slate, which obviously doesn’t give us a whole lot to work with. Right off the bat, a game we probably want to stay away from is the Dallas Mavericks (+265 underdogs at Bovada) trying to take down the Grizzlies in Memphis.
Dallas just shocked the Grizz with a big win last night, but they face them right away again tonight. Both teams will be tired, but the edge has to go to the Grizzlies, who will be at home for this one and are clearly the more talented team.
With all that being said, there is still some opportunity to make some money by betting on underdogs tonight. Here are the top games we’d consider targeting:
Atlanta Hawks (+140) Over Chicago Bulls (-140)
The Bulls shocked just about everyone by playing the Cleveland Cavaliers really hard in their last game, but they’re sure to come down from that high in the near future. That could come as soon as tonight when they have to try to live up to the billing as favorites at home against the Hawks.
Atlanta makes some sense as the underdog here, as Dennis Schroder is still sidelined with an injury and the Hawks will also obviously be on the road. The Hawks have not looked great early in the year, as they’ll be nursing a rough 1-3 start as they search for a win.
We never want to just ride with the value an upset pick gets us just for kicks, but the Hawks make sense here. Atlanta has a tight +2.5 spread working in their favor, as Vegas obviously doesn’t have a ton of confidence in a winless Bulls team.
This is admittedly Chicago’s best chance in a while to get a win, but the Hawks can push the pace and have enough pieces to threaten Chicago defensively. In what figures to be a close game, the Hawks are a solid value pick.
Boston Celtics (+155) Over Milwaukee Bucks (-175)
The Bucks are priced as solid favorites at home tonight, but it’s possible they could get tripped up by a Celtics team that is warming up after ripping off two straight wins.
Bettors now have to wonder if Kyrie Irving and co. are suddenly finding their footing after a rough 0-2 start. The Celtics are absolutely under-manned, as they lost players in big moves during the summer and are going to be without star forward Gordon Hayward for the rest of the year.
However, combo guard Marcus Smart is a big piece to them being competitive and he is reportedly nearing a return. If that return happens tonight in Milwaukee, the Celtics will have a shot at taking down the Bucks.
Milwaukee is certainly a tough out at the moment. Giannis Antetokounmpo is flat out carrying this offense with 32+ points in every single game this year and at 3-1 the Bucks look like one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference.
The Greek Freak is clearly the biggest reason why Milwaukee is finding success, but they also play methodical offense and control the pace. Milwaukee’s slow pace hasn’t yet translated into an elite defensive efficiency rating (currently 18th), but they do have the 9th best offense so far this year.
Boston’s surprisingly solid defense (6th) could play a key role here, as slowing down Giannis could be all the Celtics need to earn a statement win.
Ultimately, bettors are getting nice value with a Boston team that was supposed to be better than Milwaukee before the season started. Perhaps for at least one game that may very well be the case.
Los Angeles Clippers (+120) Over Portland Trail Blazers (-140)
We can’t attack every game with value on this slate, but this Clippers vs. Blazers battle rounds out the slate with a third viable underdog pick worth targeting.
That comes in the form of L.A., as the Clippers are off to a nice 3-0 start and have thus far exhibited the league’s number one defense. It’s fair to wonder just how long that sticks, but with Patrick Beverley giving star point guards fits and DeAndre Jordan anchoring the paint, it’s not crazy to think L.A. is really this good.
Winning in Portland isn’t easy, but the Clippers have actually enjoyed a lot of success there, as well as in this series. The Clippers have rattled off six consecutive wins in this series and in the last four meetings at the Moda Center, they’re 3-1.
Even when we get beyond L.A.’s smothering defense, we still need to address their offense, which has shared the ball en route to the league’s 3rd most efficient offense. Portland will push the pace and keep things interesting on their home floor, but there is a ton working in favor of Los Angeles in this spot.