NBA Expert Picks and Best Bets | February 22

Bryan Zarpentine pic
Bryan Zarpentine
NBA Picks and Best Bets
NBA Best Bets 2023-2024

It’s been an extra-long all-star break, but the NBA is finally back on Thursday night. There are a dozen games on the schedule, which means plenty of basketball betting opportunities. We’ve had plenty of time to look closely at the schedule and come up with our three favorite picks for the NBA’s triumphant return on Thursday night.

Detroit Pistons vs Indiana Pacers Best Bet:

Pacers -11.5 | -110 at FanDuel

Coming back from the break, we expect the 8-46 Pistons to pick up where they left off. Obviously, where they left off was being one of the worst teams in the NBA and a team that lost six of its last eight games before the break. To be fair, Detroit’s record against the spread is decent, which you would expect for a team that’s frequently a double-digit underdog. The 11.5-point spread on Thursday doesn’t seem like that much since the Pistons will be on the road and shouldn’t get much of an edge from the time off.

The Pacers, on the other hand, should benefit from the layoff. Tyrese Haliburton will be healthy and well-rested following the all-star break. If he’s ready to play big minutes and is back to his old self and battling some injuries, Indiana’s offense can be explosive. Haliburton went off for 32 points in the All-Star Game and had double-digit assists in four straight games before the break. He and the Pacers should be clicking enough to cover the spread against Detroit’s train wreck of a team.

FanDuel Sportsbook
Pacers -11.5 | -110 at FanDuel

Houston Rockets vs New Orleans Pelicans Best Bet:

Pelicans -6.5 | -115 at BetMGM

New Orleans opens the second half of the season with a slim one-game lead in the Southwest Division. The Pelicans won seven of their last eight games before the break, so they should be excited to pick up where they left off. It’s not been a given this season that Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and CJ McCollum are all healthy at the same time. But that trio is healthy at the moment, and when they play together, the Pelicans can blow out almost any team in the league.

Meanwhile, the Rockets were dreadful right before the all-star break, losing five of their last six games. They look like a vulnerable team right now. There is also no guarantee that point guard Fred VanVleet will return from injury on Thursday. Even with him, Houston will struggle to match New Orleans’ firepower. The kicker is the Rockets are just 7-14-1 against the spread as road underdogs. This could easily turn into a double-digit win for the Pelicans.

BetMGM Sportsbook
Pelicans -6.5 | -115 at BetMGM

Los Angeles Lakers vs Golden State Warriors Best Bet:

Lakers +4.5 | -110 at BetRivers

The Warriors went on a nice run before the all-star break. But we’re still a little skeptical of them. The long layoff could be enough to slow them down. Keep in mind that Golden State has been an unreliable home favorite this season, going just 7-14 against the spread. The Warriors also lost a close game to the Lakers the last time these teams played.

On the other side, the aging Lakers should be refreshed after the break. LeBron and company won six of seven before the break and know they need to keep it going. As long as LeBron and Anthony Davis are healthy, you can expect the Lakers to bring their best effort. They’ll also know that a game against Golden State is one they can’t afford to lose. We expect the Lakers to keep this game close the whole way, if not come away with a win.

Lakers +4.5 | -110 at BetRivers

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