NBA Expert Picks and Best Bets | February 23

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

The NBA gains steam with a big Friday night after the All-Star break and we’re talking totals, since it’s been so good to us this season. Discover our strategy for making a smart bet on the totals. Denver is out in Portland after scoring 130 points Thursday night against the Wizards, while the Clippers are in Memphis after getting whipped by the Thunder. In Philly, the Sixers just aren’t the same without Joel Embiid.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Philadelphia 76ers Best Bet

Cavaliers -3.5 (-112) at FanDuel

It was a weird start to the second of the season for both of these teams Thursday night. The Cavs got thumped by the Magic, playing without star Donovan Mitchell, who missed the game with an illness, even though he played in the All-Star game and in the three-point contest. He has no injury designation for tonight.

The bottom has dropped out for Philly. They are 6-15 without Joel Embiid in the line-up and have lost six of their last eight. Embiid is still out for a while. The Sixers are going to try to spread the floor and jack up threes for now. Tyrese Maxey had 35 points Thursday night in the loss to the Knicks, but the Sixers didn’t get much else.

Even without Mitchell, the Cavs are probably in a better spot. Cleveland has won 18 of their last 21 and is 4-4 on back-to-backs. They’re still rising while the Sixers are still falling.

fanduel sportsbook
Cavaliers -3.5 (-112)

LA Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies Best Bet

Over 223.5 (-110) at BetMGM

In the 12 NBA games Thursday night, the over/under split exactly 6-6, but I’m going back to my mid-season strategy of finding low totals on the board and betting the over.

The 36-18 Clippers got taken apart by Oklahoma City Thursday night by 22 points. The Clips are still third in the Western Conference, but they are a veteran group that sometimes seems to turn it off and on. This season they’re averaging 118.1 a game, but only 111 in their last five.

Memphis is nine games out of a Play-In spot, so yeah. It’s all about the draft lottery for them. The Grizzlies have the worst offense in the NBA at 107.1 points, but five of their last seven games have hit the over.

Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are still clicking for over 22 points a game. This is one of those games where the Clippers will get out to a big lead and coast. Memphis will score a lot of points garbage time. I love the over.

betmgm sportsbook
Over 223.5 (-110)

Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers Best Bet

Over 219 (-108) at DraftKings

Let’s do it again with the over on another low total at Michigan sportsbooks.

The Nuggets scored 130 last night against the Wizards, I know, it’s the Wizards, but they had 72 points at halftime. This season Denver is only 20-35-1 over/under. The Nuggets are the defending champs and to me it almost looks like they try to conserve energy during games. Also offensively Jamal Murray hasn’t quite been the same player he was in 2023.

Portland has the second longest losing streak in the NBA at six games and has scored only 103 a game during that stretch, but I love that they had last night off, while the Nuggets played. Jerami Grant has played well for Portland.

Look for Portland to hang around with the Nuggets until the second half. The last time these two played they combined for 228 points. I think we’ll get close to there again.

draftkings sportsbook
Over 219 (-108)

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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.