NBA predictions, best bets today (2/23): Cavaliers, Pelicans highlight picks against the spread and moneyline

The NBA’s All-Star Weekend — and all of the Ws and Ls that came with it — has come and gone, and now comes the home stretch of the 2023-24 season. With just a little over 30 percent of the regular-season campaign remaining and fantastic parity across the league, there has never been a better time to bet NBA moneylines and spreads on BetMGM.

We’ve been highlighting our favorite NBA player props for months, but from this point forward we have decided to also start unveiling our favorite bets on the moneyline and against the spread.

MORE NBA BETTING:
Top props for Friday night | Joker & Wemby: MVP, Rookie of the Year locks?

Anyone who has followed our picks and props this season knows that we’re smoking hot, hitting on well over 60 percent of our best bets on the year. Let’s carry that momentum into the weekend, as we blast into a solid 10-game slate of Friday night action.

Here are the 10 games we have to look forward to this evening (with home teams listed first): 

  • Hawks (-6.5) vs. Raptors
  • 76ers (+3.5) vs. Cavaliers
  • Pelicans (-2.5) vs. Heat
  • Thunder (-14.5) vs. Wizards
  • Grizzlies (+9.5) vs. Clippers
  • Rockets (+3.5) vs. Suns
  • Blazers (+9.5) vs. Nuggets
  • Warriors (-13.5) vs. Hornets
  • Wolves (-4.5) vs. Bucks
  • Lakers (-8.5) vs. Spurs

That’s a pretty legit 10-game offering, and we can’t wait to get some bets in. Let’s unveil our best moneyline and spread bets from BetMGM, and boost our bankroll heading into the weekend.

NBA predictions, best bets today (2/23):

Cavaliers (-3.5) at 76ers

The Cavaliers have won nine of their past 10 games and 18 of their last 20, they’ve got Darius Garland and Evan Mobley back healthy, and Donovan Mitchell has emerged as a dark-horse MVP candidate. Meanwhile, the Sixers have dropped eight of their past 11 and have looked lost without reigning MVP Joel Embiid (meniscus) over the past three-plus weeks. These teams are the definition of the sports term “moving in opposite directions,” and Philadelphia is about to learn just how bad it misses JoJo tonight. 

MORE: 2023-24 NBA MVP rankings update | Joel Embiid injury timetable

Both these squads are on the tail end of a back-to-back, with the Cavs coming off a 116-109 loss to Orlando and the Sixers on the heels of a 110-96 loss to the Knicks. The big difference between those two Ls: Cleveland was without Donovan Mitchell (illness) and most likely gets him back tonight. Philly, meanwhile, ain’t getting Embiid back anytime soon. 

In almost every betting situation, the wise decision when analyzing a matchup of two teams on the tail end of back-to-backs is to wager on the better, hotter, and deeper team. Cleveland checks all those boxes, and we can’t imagine betting against the visiting favorites this evening. Even if Spida stays sick and sidelined, the Cavs can beat these broken Sixers.

MORE: Cavs-76ers full betting preview

Pelicans (-150) vs. Heat

The Heat did well to improve during the trade-deadline period, and we wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Miami once again finds itself contending for a championship this June. However, things like this take time to materialize (remember where the eventual Eastern Conference-champion Heat were at this point last season!?). We don’t like the visiting underdogs’ chances of stealing a win in New Orleans this evening. 

Erik Spoelstra’s Miami squad is facing the level of injury issues right now that Willie Green’s Pels have faced in the past. Deadline acquisition Terry Rozier (knee), Tyler Herro (foot), and Josh Richardson (shoulder) could all miss tonight’s game, bad-news bears against a NOLA team that has won seven of its past 10 games and 16 of its 26 home contests on the season.

We’ll bet the moneyline rather than the -2.5 just because Miami always seems to find a way to make things interesting, but we like the Pelicans to ultimately emerge victorious here.

MORE: Expert predictions for final stretch of NBA season

Wolves -4.5 vs. Bucks

Newsflash: the Wolves are legit this season. Rudy Gobert is the runaway favorite to win Defensive Player of the Year, Anthony Edwards is a dark-horse MVP candidate, and Chris Finch could easily come away with Coach of the Year honors. Oh, and Karl-Anthony Towns, infamous 50-point scorer in possibly the worst All-Star Game of all time, is shooting 43.7 percent from three-point land. 

That’s the best we’ve ever seen KAT shoot as a pro, and Minnesota is playing the best basketball since Kevin Garnett’s MVP season (well, statistically, better). Still, the Wolves need to stack up some more signature wins before NBA media starts to really take this team seriously, and a victory over Giannis, Dame, and the Bucks would definitely constitute as one of those.

Look for KAT to fill it up from outside, Gobert to lock down the lane, and x-factor point guard to run circles around Milwaukee’s hapless backcourt defense. Excuse factory Doc Rivers (or should I call him Glenn ‘Big Baby’ Rivers?) has said he wouldn’t wish his job on anyone (coaching Giannis is hard, wah) — just wait until Minnesota rolls the Bucks into oblivion on national television.

READ MORE: Full Bucks vs. Wolves betting preview

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