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Will a new coach help Nets get on track? 5 bets for Thursday

Nathaniel S. Butler / National Basketball Association / Getty

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The NBA is back with meaningful action to watch, so we can forget about the farce that was the All-Star Game. Twenty-four of the NBA's 30 teams are playing Thursday after most of them had more than a week off.

We'll continue providing daily picks as the regular season arrives at its final stretch. Here are Thursday's plays for a loaded slate.

Nets @ Raptors (-2, O/U 231.5)

The Nets had an eventful All-Star break for a team with no All-Stars. Earlier this week, Brooklyn fired head coach Jacque Vaughn and promoted Kevin Ollie.

Firing a coach can often spark a team. Vaughn was reportedly dismissed because of the lack of energy and effort of his players, who have to feel accountable on some level. That should motivate them to play harder.

The Nets don't have the talent of a true playoff contender, but they still have a better record than the Raptors. Toronto lost three straight before the break and is still trying to incorporate new pieces into the equation.

Pick: Nets +2

Ivica Zubac: Over 8.5 rebounds

Ivica Zubac didn't see too much time on the court upon his return after he'd missed a few weeks with an injury. However, he should play a normal workload Thursday, and he grabs a ton of boards when he plays substantial minutes.

Zubac is averaging 9.5 rebounds this season and collected 10.3 per game in January. He's grabbed nine-plus boards in 12 of the last 15 contests where he's played at least 22 minutes. Plus, Zubac should take advantage of a suitable matchup.

The Thunder have the NBA's second-worst rebounding percentage. While Chet Holmgren is a solid rim-protector, he can get bullied on the glass. Oklahoma City also has little center depth behind him.

Odds: -135

Josh Hart: Over 8.5 rebounds

Josh Hart is averaging 37 minutes per game in February as the Knicks deal with injuries to key contributors. He's been a rebounding machine during this span, capturing at least nine boards in nine of the last 10 games.

Center Isaiah Hartenstein is expected to play Thursday, but he might be limited. Regardless, the Knicks need Hart's rebounding presence.

New York faces the Sixers, who lack size without Joel Embiid, on Thursday night. Embiid's absence has hurt them on the glass as Paul Reed can't fill the void inside. Philadelphia has the league's eighth-worst rebounding percentage over the last 15 games.

Odds: +105

Ben Simmons: Over 11.5 assists and rebounds

Ollie needs to incorporate Ben Simmons as the point guard who leads Brooklyn's fast break. The Nets are at their best when Simmons is running a fast-paced offense.

Although he hasn't played much this season, Simmons' presence as a pass-first player creates open looks for his teammates.

Despite having his minutes restricted, Simmons has recorded at least 12 combined assists and rebounds in four of the six games he's played since returning from injury. He should see more action coming off a week-long break and a coaching change to soar past this prop.

Odds: -130

Luka Doncic: Over 31.5 points

Luka Doncic and Devin Booker's budding rivalry has been an interesting subplot to Suns-Mavericks matchups over the last few years.

Doncic wants to perform well against Booker. He especially will Thursday night after the Suns dominated the Mavs in Dallas last month, leading to a Luka meltdown.

Doncic has scored 34 and 50 points in the two times he's played the Suns this season. He's averaging 34.2 overall. With a few days of rest and added incentive, we should see another dominant Doncic outing in a classic showdown between these West rivals.

Odds: -105 (playable to -120)

Sam Oshtry is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on X @soshtry for more betting coverage.

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