Over the last nine days, Three at 3 is 20-6-1. Here are our top three plays for Thursday night’s NBA action:
1. New York Knicks at Milwaukee Bucks (-14.5)
8:00 pm ET
The Christmas Day meeting between these two teams was a one-sided affair, as the Bucks won 109-95 in a game that was more of a blowout than the final score suggests. But the Knicks have some things working in their favor tonight. For starters, New York will be very familiar with what Milwaukee wants to do after playing the Bucks only two days ago. If Knicks head coach David Fizdale can’t make some useful adjustments against a team he just faced, then the Knicks have bigger things to worry about than just the Bucks. Milwaukee also tends to sleep against weaker opponents at home. Over the last three seasons, the Bucks are just 14-29 against the spread in home games against teams with losing records. New York hit only 36.5% of its shots on Christmas Day, and the team hadn’t shot less than 40% from the floor since December 6. Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke were especially horrible in that game, so the Knicks should get improved play from the point guard spot. Perhaps they’ll give Frank Ntilikina a shot. Their defense has been miserable, and he is far and away the team’s best defender.
Pick: Knicks (+14.5)
2. Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors (-9.0)
10:30 pm ET
The Warriors will look to beat up on somebody after an embarrassing 26-point loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day. But that won't be easy. While the Warriors will eventually figure things out, the team is only 1-4 against the spread when playing as favorites of 9.0 or more points since December 10. Golden State is also 32-47 against the spread when playing against teams with winning records over the last two seasons. Also alarming is the fact that the Warriors are 2-11 against the spread when playing as a favorite of 3.5 to 9.5 points this year. While the Blazers haven’t been much better, they are still a team with tons of firepower. And considering the Warriors are only 16th in the league in defensive efficiency over the last eight games, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum should be able to give them trouble here.
Pick: Blazers (+9.0)
3. Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors (Total: 226.5)
10:30 pm ET
The Warriors not playing their best brand of defense also lends itself well to the over in this game. If Golden State isn’t able to contain the Blazers backcourt, then it’s hard to imagine this game not being extremely high scoring. Because while Lillard and McCollum are capable of exploding against the Warriors, they are even more likely to let Steph Curry and Klay Thompson get some good looks in this game. Then there’s also the fact that over the total is 19-9 when the Warriors are facing teams that allow at least 110.0 points per game over the last two seasons.
Pick: Over (226.5)