Kudos to the NBA. Last season, the Thursday prior to the All-Star break was one of the duller days on the calendar. Knicks-Hawks and Magic-Hornets are hardly enough to get most fans excited, and while Thunder-Pelicans made sense on paper, Anthony Davis' trade demand put a serious damper on the whole affair.
This time around, we not only get a Thunder-Pelicans rematch featuring a host of more exciting players, but also the second round of Clippers vs. Celtics, one of the best games of the year the first time around. We may be light on volume tonight, but the quality should be spectacular.
Here are today's top picks from that small but effective slate of games. All lines via William Hill Sportsbook.
1. Los Angeles Clippers at Boston Celtics: Clippers +2
Boston's success is predicated on its absurd amount of wing depth. Very few teams can match up with Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward at the same time. The Clippers can. Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Marcus Morris neutralize that advantage. While having Patrick Beverley would help against Kemba Walker, the Clippers will have a far easier time maintaining their typical playing style than the Celtics, who will have to adjust to L.A.'s perimeter size.
DFS millionaire Mike McClure saw multiple huge cashes again early in the 2019-20 NBA season and got 2020 off to a blistering start with his optimal lineup returning at least 7x on DraftKings on three of the first five days of the year. See tonight's picks only at SportsLine.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder at New Orleans Pelicans: Thunder +3.5
The Thunder are 20-5 against the spread on the road. Not "on the road against teams above .500," not "on the road as underdogs," just, "on the road." There is no circumstance under which betting against them away from Oklahoma City makes sense. Getting this many points against a team that they lead by nine games in the standings is utterly ridiculous, even with Zion Williamson back in the fold.
Who should you back against the spread and on the total in every Week 2 XFL game? And which team dominates the competition? Visit SportsLine now to see their Week 2 cheat sheet, all from the pro football expert who went a perfect 4-0 on XFL picks in Week 1.
3. Thunder at Pelicans: Zion Williamson Over 21.5 points
This is a particularly devious line, as Zion has landed on exactly 21 points in three of his past seven games. This matchup, however, is hardly favorable for Oklahoma City. The Thunder typically start Danilo Gallinari at power forward, but doing so against Williamson is a recipe for disaster. The Thunder will either need to adjust their lineup or defend Zion with Steven Adams, making life easier for everyone else. Either way, this should be a big game for the No. 1 overall pick.
The SportsLine Projection Model owned MLB win totals last year, going 14-5 on picks in which there was at least a 3-win differential between the model's projection and the betting line. On its Top 5 picks, the model went 4-1. See the model's 2020 picks over at SportsLine.