NBA preview and tips: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks and New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets
Sometimes identifying the best value is not as straightforward as it seems, especially in the fickle world of the NBA.
Two tasty games are tipping off on Thursday evening as we get to see three Championship chasing teams and a play-off contender in a mouthwatering back-to-back.
With such a small schedule this evening, let's take a look at the key facts and figures for both games, to find the best betting approach.
Boston Celtics @ Milwaukee Bucks
Boston (52-24) come into this game wanting to bounce back after a rare drubbing, 130-111, against the Washington Wizards. The Bucks (55-21) just beat off the challenge of Indiana Pacers in a 149-136 thriller of a game.
The Bucks shot an incredible 62.37% from the field in that game, and although you might expect some regression against the Celtics, their road defence is not the same as it is at home.
Boston have allowed an average of 115 points per game across their last eight road games, and they didn't face anything close to an elite team in that time. There are frailties for Milwaukee to take advantage of.
These sides have met twice this season with the home team winning on each occasion, by at least five points, with the combined total surpassing 255 points in both games.
The Bucks have seen a good majority of their home games soar over the total so far this season, with the over going 19-9 when the Bucks are a home favourite. When they play elite teams winning 60% of their games or better, the over is 8-3 at home.
The Celtics are 5-1 to the over when they visit a team with a winning record, 4-0 in their last four games.
With the Celtics on a 4-1 ATS run as an underdog on the road, and bearing in mind they only tend to be underdogs against elite teams, that's a number to take note of. Milwaukee are on a 1-4 ATS run at home, so be careful with the spread.
New Orleans Pelicans @ Denver Nuggets
While the Nuggets 51-24) are the obvious pick in this game, the Pelicans (38-38) are still battling away for their play-off seeding. They had won five straight until their defeat against the Warriors, and they may be facing an undermanned Denver side.
Nikola Jokic has had another super season with 24.9 points, 11.9 rebounds and 9.9 assists per game, but he may or may not suit up for this game. If Nikola continues on his current trajectory, it could be a record-setting season.
Russell Westbrook holds the record for triple-doubles with 198, and only he and Oscar Robertson have averaged a triple-double throughout a season.
If The Joker can up his creative output just enough to push past 10 assists per game, he'll become the third player in NBA history to achieve the impressive feat.
In the 76-year history of the NBA, nearly 5,000 players have suited up. Names like Chamberlin, Jordan, and James haven't managed what Jokic might yet achieve, so it gives Denver every chance of winning a title this season.
In terms of this evening's game, Denver are on a four-game winning streak after beating the 76ers, Bucks, Wizards, and Nets. But they are just 1-4 ATS in their last five at home and are being asked to cover a big number here.
But the Pelicans are just 9-19 ATS as a road underdog, and 8-17 ATS in their last 25 as an underdog overall, but they have fared OK against the bigger numbers. They're also just 3-13 ATS as a road underdog of 5-10.5 points per game.
With the Nuggets on an 8-2 ATS run playing on two days of rest, their current feel-good factor, and their strong record against losing teams at home, there's every reason to back them here should Jokic suit up.
George Dempsey provides basketball tips as The NBA Tipster on Tipstrr
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