After nailing two ATS picks on Wednesday night, Three at 3 is back with bets for all three of Thursday night's games.
1. Golden State Warriors at Toronto Raptors (-9.0)
8:00 pm ET
The Warriors come into this game riding a three-game winning streak but, on the whole, things haven’t been pretty when the team is playing without Stephen Curry—who is out again tonight, along with Draymond Green. Since Curry went down with a groin injury, Golden State is just 5-5 straight up and 2-8 against the spread. In the 10 games Curry has missed, the Warriors have the league’s 14th-best offensive efficiency rating. That might not seem bad, but Golden State was far and away the best offensive team in the league in October. The Warriors were scoring 120.3 points per 100 possessions, and things have become far more stagnant with him out. Kevin Durant has done his part to pick the team up in the last week or so, but the current streak has come at home against the Blazers, Kings and Magic. Those are three solid teams, but certainly ones the defending champs should be able to handle at Oracle—with or without all of their stars on the floor.
Meanwhile, the Raptors have shown no signs of slowing down after a hot start. Toronto is looking like the easy favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference as things stand right now, as the Raps are currently second in the league in offensive efficiency rating and seventh in the league in defensive efficiency rating. Those numbers are even more impressive considering that Kawhi Leonard has missed six games. Leonard is playing like an MVP candidate this year, and Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam have seen their games rise to new heights as well. Each player has been a menace on both ends of the floor, and the Raptors also have great role players—especially Danny Green, who remarkably has the best net rating of any player in the league to this point. Overall, this Toronto team is absolutely loaded and would be a threat to beat a Golden State team that was playing at full strength. But without two stars, it’s hard to see the Warriors hanging around here. It would take a Herculean effort from Durant, and Leonard has given him trouble in the past. It helps that the Raptors are 19-12 against the spread—and 3-0 ATS this season—when playing teams with a win percentage of 60% to 70% over the last three seasons.
Pick: Raptors (-9.0)
2. Los Angeles Clippers at Sacramento Kings (+2.0)
Since beginning his career as a head coach, Dave Joerger’s teams are 17-5 against the spread at home when coming off three or more overs in a row. They won those 22 games by an average of 3.8 points, and the average total score in those games was only 202.8 points per game. The significance of those numbers is that Joerger knows when his teams need to settle in and focus defensively. And while this one should be much higher scoring than those contests, expect Sacramento to come in and play with a ton of intensity here. The Kings come into this game having lost two games in a row and four of their last six. Sacramento knows that it really can’t afford to let this one get away, and the team happens to be facing a tired Los Angeles group tonight. Sure, the Clippers have won three straight and 10 of their last 12 (and are 9-3 ATS in those games), but this is the second night of a back-to-back. Before last night’s game at home, the Clippers had played four of their previous five games on the road. And in looking at the matchups for tonight, it’s worth noting that Willie Cauley-Stein continues to play superb defense for Sacramento. That will come in handy against the Clippers, as Montrezl Harrell has been overpowering opponents inside.
Pick: Kings (+2.0)
3. Indiana Pacers at Los Angeles Lakers (Total: 219.0)
Since the start of last season, the under is 17-5 when the Pacers face teams that average at least 110 points per game. The average amount of points scored in those games was only 201.4, and that is directly related to the type of defense that Indiana plays. While Victor Oladipo is set to miss this game with a knee injury, Indiana is fourth in the league in defensive efficiency rating and can be counted on to play hard team defense on a nightly basis. And considering the Pacers will be shorthanded against LeBron James and a Lakers team that is fifth in the league in pace, they know that their best chance of staying in this game is by slowing things down. Myles Turner will be an X-factor in this game, as he’s going to need to do a good job of protecting the rim in this one. The Lakers are not a very good three-point shooting team, so Indiana can keep this lower scoring by doing its part of limiting points in the paint. And without Oladipo, the Pacers will use most of the shot clock by pounding the ball inside to Domantas Sabonis. It’s just very hard to see this game turning into a shootout.
Pick: Under (219.0)
Overall Record: 49-41-3