Only five matchups on the NBA calendar today as the league’s trade deadline looms large on the horizon later this week. With the top five teams in the Eastern Conference separated by just a couple of games, expect the on-court intensity to pick up quite a bit now that we’re past the halfway point of the season.
Just about every team in action this evening is currently fighting for a playoff spot so, with a handful of critical battles on tap for tonight, we’ve figured out the three best plays on the entire card.
Toronto Raptors at Charlotte Hornets
Best Bet: Hornets -1 / -105 (FanDuel)
Not only is Charlotte seeking to snap a four-game losing streak, but the Hornets are also out for revenge after losing to the Raptors 125-113 in the first meeting between these two teams back on January 25. Charlotte is 15-9 ATS as the home team this season and, despite their recent struggles, are still averaging 113.6 PPG, the second-best mark in the Association.
Toronto’s current 5-1 stretch is a bit deceiving as three of those victories came against a mediocre Atlanta Hawks team, and a short-handed Chicago Bulls squad. Both the Raptors and the Hornets are as healthy as they’ve been all season, so not only is this a good spot for Charlotte bettors, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if these two teams go over the total as well.
New York Knicks at Utah Jazz
Best Bet: Jazz -7 / -110 (DraftKings)
We’re a far cry from the New York Knicks team that started the season at 5-1 and had their fans yelling “Bing Bong” after every victory. In the last three weeks, New York has won all of two games, sliding back into the fringe of the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Jazz, meanwhile, have found their footing over the last couple of games, proving that their league-best scoring average (113.6 PPG) is not a fluke.
Recent history hasn’t been kind to New York: The Jazz have won five of the last six meetings in this series, including a 108-94 victory in Utah last season. In games preceded by more than one day of rest this season, Utah is 6-3 against the spread, while the Knicks are just 6-9 ATS as a road underdog. Making matters worse for New York is a hemorrhaging defense that has allowed opponents to score 120 points or more in three of the last four games.
Phoenix Suns at Chicago Bulls
Best Bet: Suns -5.5 / -110 (DraftKings)
After their 15-point victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday, it’s clear now that Phoenix’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks last Thursday was an outlier. The Suns are on an incredible 15-2 run over the past five weeks, and will look to continue their momentum tonight against a Bulls team that lost 119-108 to the Philadelphia 76ers yesterday afternoon.
Chicago is 4-5 against the spread in their last nine overall, and have given up 110 points or more in all but one of those games. Zach LaVine (back) is likely a game-time decision, but his status may not matter all that much: Phoenix has covered the spread 65 percent of the time as a road favorite this year. The Suns won both matchups between these two teams last season, and five of the last seven games in the series.