NBA Thursday best bets: Ride 76ers behind Embiid's stellar run
After tallying a 2-1 record against the spread on our Wednesday NBA picks, there are only two games to bet on Thursday in one of the season's smallest slates. Here are our best bets for each:
Lakers @ 76ers (-2.5, 218.5), 7:30 p.m. ET
Joel Embiid's game has reached a new level, and opposing teams seem powerless to stop him. In his past 15 games, the 76ers big man is averaging 34.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks on 55.9% shooting. He guided Philadelphia to a 12-3 record (11-4 ATS) and the NBA's second-best net rating (plus-8.9) during that stretch.
Compare that to the Lakers, who are just above .500 in that span despite posting some of the league's worst defensive numbers - especially in the paint. Across the entire season, Los Angeles has surrendered the second-most shot attempts within five feet (32 per game) and is allowing opponents to shoot 62.8% from that range - including a 67% mark across their last eight games.
Anthony Davis' return helps, but he's still listed as a game-time decision for Thursday's tilt and could be on a minutes restriction if he plays. That doesn't exactly sound like the elixir for stopping Embiid down low.
Pick: 76ers -2.5
Timberwolves @ Warriors (-6, 229.5), 10 p.m.
Did the Warriors finally break their offensive spell? Golden State blew the doors off the Mavericks in Tuesday's 130-92 win, posting its second-highest scoring total of the season and third-biggest margin of victory.
However, a look under the hood still raises concerns. Seven players scored in double digits in a game that was mostly decided by the third quarter, which won't often be the case. Stephen Curry also scored just 18 points on 43.8% shooting with a dismal 2-for-10 showing from three to extend the NBA's most baffling slump.
Curry has shot better than 50% from three just once in his last 21 games and faces a Timberwolves defense that ranks eighth in opponent 3-point percentage (34%). Minnesota also owns the league's most efficient offense since Jan. 2 (117 points per 100 possessions) and should be able to stay within the number against the inconsistent Dubs.
Pick: Timberwolves +6
C Jackson Cowart is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on Twitter (@CJacksonCowart) or email him at email@example.com.