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Free NBA Betting Picks and Best Bets (2/22/24)

Paolo Banchero - NBA DFS Lineup Picks, Daily Fantasy Basketball

Finally, the NBA returns tonight! After a week with no competitive basketball, we have 12 games on tonight's slate. Sadly, nearly 70 percent of the season is finished, but it should be an exciting race to the playoffs.

In the Eastern Conference, the New York Knicks currently sit fourth at 33-22. The Miami Heat and Orlando Magic are both 30-25. There's only a three-game difference between being the fourth or eighth seed. In the West, the Nuggets sit fourth with a 36-19 record. Sacramento is currently holding the eighth position with a 31-23 record. They are only separated by 4.5 games.

In this article, I'll be providing my favorite picks against the spread, game totals, parlays, and teasers for the NBA slate that tips off at 7:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, February 22. Follow me on X, @Jwiesel13. If you are looking for additional betting content, click here to see which win totals Thunder Dan is targeting coming out of the All-Star break.

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NBA Betting Picks: Spreads & ML

Brooklyn Nets (+1.5) at Toronto Raptors (231.5 total)

The Nets made a coaching change over the break, firing Jacque Vaughn. Brooklyn is 21-33 this season, and Vaughn was an easy scapegoat for an underwhelming Nets team. I don't like this Nets team or the direction they seem to be heading in. Kevin Ollie will now serve as Brooklyn's interim coach for the rest of the season. The Nets haven't had a chance to play a real game, implementing what Ollie wants to do.

I'm going to try to take advantage of that and take the Raptors in the first quarter. Brooklyn is an elite 22-7-1 ATS in the first quarter at home this season. On the road, it's a different story; they are 7-17. Meanwhile, Toronto is 9-18-1 ATS in the opening 12 minutes on the road, but they are 12-15 ATS at home. It's not great, but they do perform better at home to start games.

At home, the Raptors are averaging 28.7 points and shooting 49.6 percent on FGA. That field goal percentage is the 10th best among home teams this season. They are also right around the league average when it comes to three-point percentage. In their last game before the All-Star break, Toronto outscored the Pacers 35-31 at home in the first quarter.

I remember it well because I bet on the Pacers in the first quarter that night, and it was not a good idea. The Raptors hit 14-of-21 FGA while also shooting 4-of-7 from three and 3-of-5 from the line. I don't know if they'll be that efficient again, but if they are, I'd rather be on their side.

Brooklyn had an awful 15-point first quarter performance on the road in Boston before the break. They shot 26.1 percent on FGA and 16.7 percent from three. It would be hard to do worse than that, but the Nets are only hitting 44.8 percent of their field goals in the first quarter on the road this season. This is not a game I'm particularly looking forward to; I just hope Toronto takes care of business early.

The Pick: Raptors First Quarter ML (-115 FanDuel)

 

Orlando Magic (+8.5) at Cleveland Cavaliers (215 total)

The Orlando Magic are an NBA-best 36-19 ATS this season. On the road, they are 18-11. Only the Washington Wizards, with an 18-8-2 record, have been better. Based on that opening statement, it's no surprise I'm rolling with Orlando on the road.

As pointed out in the intro, the Magic are 30-25 and only three games back of the fourth seed. This team is going to continue to play hard, and I think they'll keep it close. The Magic are not great at scoring the ball, but they are really good on defense. Orlando sits fifth in defensive rating this season. They give up 108.8 points per game at home, compared to 112.7 on the road.

The 3.9-point difference really isn't that bad. A team like the Minnesota Timberwolves only allows 102.6 points at home. On the road, they allow 109.9. points. That's a 7.3 defensive point differential. Orlando has not had a good offense all season and has still managed to win games.

I also like the defensive matchup for Orlando's guards on Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. The Cavs have won two of three matchups this season. In both Magic losses, Cleveland raced out to a big first-quarter lead. Even in the win, the Magic lost the first quarter 29-22 but came back.

I hope to see Orlando have a better start to tonight's game and not put themselves in an early hole. What I know about this team is that I've watched them fight all season, and it feels like a nice amount of points to work with. The Magic are also great at getting to the foul line, which is always helpful for getting easy points and stopping the other team's momentum.

I do think it will be a low-scoring game, but I don't want to take the under. In a potential low scoring game between two playoff teams, I'll take the points with the Magic in enemy territory. The Cavaliers are only 14-13-1 ATS at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse this season.

The Pick: Magic +8.5 (-110 FanDuel)

 

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NBA Betting Picks: Totals

Los Angeles Clippers (+2) at Oklahoma City Thunder (235 total)

I'm not a big overs guy in general, and I'm a little scared of taking an over coming out of the break, but I like the number here. These are two of the highest-scoring teams in the league, with OKC scoring the fourth-most points and the Clippers tying for ninth.

They also both shoot it really well from the floor. The Thunder are second in field-goal percentage and three-point percentage. Los Angeles is sixth in field-goal percentage and first in three-point percentage. Both teams are also in the top 15 for three-pointers made per game. When it comes to offensive rating, the Clippers rank third and the Thunder rank fourth.

I also like some of the narrative surrounding this game. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will take on the Clippers organization that drafted him. James Harden and Russell Westbrook play against their former franchise, and Paul George also has a couple seasons of history in OKC. SGA was the building block in the trade that sent Paul George to the Clippers.

On defense, OKC ranks fourth in defensive rating, while the Clippers sit 13th. They are good defensive squads, but both rank outside the top 15 in three-pointers allowed per game. Neither are particularly strong offensive rebounding teams, so there should be good opportunities for second-chance points.

For two high-scoring offenses, there's even more motivation tonight from some of the players; I'm thinking a lot of points. OKC is 30-22-2 to the over this season.

The Pick: Over 235 (-110 DraftKings)

 



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