NBA Expert Picks and Best Bets | April 3

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

Some NBA teams are just marking the calendar until the end of the season (we see you Detroit Pistons) while there’s plenty of jockeying going on for playoff spots and to avoid the Play-In Tournament. Our Wednesday picks look at a couple of game totals, one up, one down, and a match-up of two playoff-bound teams in New Orleans when the Pelicans host the Magic.

Portland Trail Blazers at Charlotte Hornets Best Bet

Under 211.5 (-110) at FanDuel

These two teams have already checked out with two weeks left to play. It puts sportsbooks in tough spots because you can never be sure of the effort level, but we can find a sweet spot.

Portland has lost 10 in a row. They have a bonafide star in Deandre Ayton, but that’s about it. Portland lost two major players and Ayton has averaged 22 points in his last 10 games. But there’s no other real offensive weapon here. Portland has scored 102.1 points in its last 10 games.

Charlotte has lost eight of its last nine points and during this run, they’ve only broken 100 points three times. They have no depth at all. Miles Bridges has been scoring well for the Hornets, but they’re a bad team. When they met in February, it was 93-80 Charlotte, that’s ridiculously low. I’ll take the under with two teams just passing time until the season ends.

fanduel sportsbook
Under 211.5 (-110)

Detroit Pistons at Atlanta Hawks Best Bet

Over 223.5 (-110) at BetMGM

Early this season, we had a great run of bets on the Hawks to go over and for the season Atlanta is 41-34 over/under. Somehow, the Hawks are 28-47 against the spread. So let’s stick with the total here.

The last time these two teams played, they combined for 254 points in a Hawks win. It was 246 when they played in November. Atlanta is still without Trae Young, but they got Jalen Johnson back this week and Dejounte Murray has been outstanding. The Hawks are in a weird spot, they are basically in the Play-In Tournament with no pressure staring at the 9/10 game with the Bulls.

Detroit is 1-9 in its last 10. With 13 wins, it won’t be the worst season in franchise history, but it’s been pretty awful. Cade Cunningham is questionable with a sore knee, but he played Monday against Memphis and had 36 points. Atlanta doesn’t play much defense and the Pistons do have some guys who can score. I like both teams to put up some points tonight.

betmgm sportsbook
Over 223.5 (-110)

Orlando Magic at New Orleans Pelicans Best Bet

Magic +5 (-110) at DraftKings

I said a couple of weeks ago in this space that I didn’t trust the Pelicans and I still don’t. New Orleans had surged to fourth in the West for a minute, but Brandon Ingram got hurt (I think they’re lying about his injury) when the Pelicans played the Magic two weeks ago and they miss his scoring.

Orlando is 44-31 and in a glut of teams between third and eighth place in the East. They’ve won four in a row in this series and against the spread this season, Orlando is a ridiculous 48-27. We should be betting on the Magic every night at this rate.

The Pelicans are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games. They’re tied with the Mavericks for fifth in the West. The reason they want to stay out of the Play-In Tournament is because they don’t do well in pressure games. This is a pressure game. Paolo Banchero ate up the Pelicans with a triple double two weeks ago. I don’t think they will stop him tonight. I’m kind of surprised the Magic are getting these points, so I will take them.

draftkings sportsbook
Magic +5 (-110)

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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.