NBA Thursday best bets: Shorthanded Blazers on upset alert vs. Spurs
We went 2-1 against the spread on our NBA picks for the second time this week, backing two Wednesday underdogs who cashed as outright victors. Here are our favorite plays on a shortened Thursday schedule:
This line doesn't make a whole lot of sense on the surface, as the Grizzlies and Thunder rank 25th and 26th in net rating, respectively, despite a five-game difference in their win-loss record. Is that really worth such a short price here?
Under the hood, these teams are much more comparable than they appear. Behind Ja Morant's resurgence, Memphis' offense has posted above-average marks this year, but it owns the worst defensive rating in the NBA. Conversely, OKC boasts a competent defense thus far but has scored the second-fewest points per possession.
Overall, it doesn't add up to such a wide margin here. The Grizzlies have won just four games all year by more than nine points, while the Thunder own eight double-digit losses in 21 games. Don't expect either number to tick up on Thursday.
Pick: Thunder +9
What happens when a score-first team loses its all-world scorer? That'll be the case this week for the Trail Blazers, who are without superstar Damian Lillard for at least 10 days due to an abdominal injury and are already without injured swingmen Norman Powell and Nassir Little.
Portland's peripherals already suggest an inflated line here, as the Blazers have outscored opponents by a whopping seven points combined this year despite a top-five offense. Without two of their top three scorers, they're hardly worth backing as favorites against a Spurs squad that held its last two opponents to 93.5 points on average in a pair of outright wins.
Pick: Spurs +5