NBA Expert Picks and Best Bets |March 5

darren cooper
Darren Cooper
NBA Picks and Best Bets
NBA Best Bets 2023-2024

Our NBA picks were on fire last week and we pick things up with an Eastern Conference showdown in Cleveland with the league-leading Boston Celtics coming to town. Injuries are a big issue in this one. The Pistons no longer have the worst record in the NBA, and they’re getting double digit points in Miami. Is that enough to back the Bad Boys from Motown?

Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers Best Bet

Celtics -7.5 (-110) at FanDuel

Boston has won 11 games in a row, and they aren’t just winning, they’re whipping people. The average margin of victory during this run is 22 points. The Celtics are just so good on offense at spreading you out, then taking advantage of whatever the defense gives them. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis are all averaging over 20 a game. Porzingis is rolling, scoring 23.1 points in his last 10.

Something hasn’t been right with the Cavs since the All-Star break. They’re just 3-4 since the break, and that includes wins over the Pistons and Wizards, who are bad, and a miracle shot win over Dallas. News broke Monday night that Cavs star Donovan Mitchell would miss the next few games with a knee injury. That news made the line jump over a point for the Celtics.

The Celtics have also won six straight against the spread. Cleveland was supposed to be the next team to challenge Boston in the East with the Knicks and Sixers falling apart, but it won’t happen.

fanduel sportsbook
Celtics -7.5 (-110)

Detroit Pistons at Miami Heat Best Bet

Pistons +11.5 (-115) at BetMGM

By percentage points the Pistons are no longer in last place in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards have lost 15 in a row and are 9-52, while the Pistons are 9-51.

Against the spread though, the Pistons are 30-30, and in their last five games, Detroit has one win, two close losses and two semi-close. For the most part the Pistons have played hard. Simone Fontecchio has given them a boost since being traded to Detroit with double figures in six of his last seven games. He’s earned more minutes.

Miami seems like the Lakers of the East, content to kind of coast along until things get late in the regular season. They haven’t been fully healthy all season, and won’t have Tyler Herro or Kevin Love tonight. But Jimmy Butler is coming off a 37 point outburst against Utah.

The Heat are 9-1 against the spread in their last 10 games, but Detroit has covered in seven of the last eight meetings. This is the biggest spread in favor of Miami all season. I’m taking all the points.

betmgm sportsbook
Pistons +11.5 (-115)

New Orleans Pelicans at Toronto Raptors Best Bet

Raptors +8.5 (-105) at DraftKings

I wrote last week that the Pelicans were a team I just couldn’t figure out. Just when you thought they were about to take the next step, they’d fall off. They’re still look young and immature. They got clobbered by Indiana in the first game of a home and home, then came back and destroyed the Pacers two nights later at home.

The Raptors are still in the playoff race for the last spot of the Play-In Tournament and have won four out of five, but they just lost All-Star Scottie Barnes for the rest of the season probably. Toronto will have to rely on RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley even more.

New Orleans is only 3-3 since the All-Star break, and they beat Toronto by 38 points last month. But I think the immature Pelicans show up tonight and Toronto plays well.

draftkings sportsbook
Raptors +8.5 (-105)

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Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.