Expert Picks for Sunday, March 19
The NBA regular season resumes Sunday with eight games, including a nationally televised matchup between the Raptors and Bucks at 8 p.m. ET. Our NBA betting experts are ready to roll with five best bets, including two spread picks and three player prop bets. Find their best bets and analysis below.
NBA Odds & Tips
Suns versus thunder propagation
Andrew O’Connor-Watts: The Suns will be without DeAndre Ayton on Sunday – a player who could take advantage of the Thunder’s lack of size. Phoenix already has a thin roster after deposing Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson to take on Kevin Durant, but without Durant in the lineup, the Suns have two fullbacks without the elite goalscorer they traded them for.
Although the Thunder have lost both games against the Suns this season, they are actually well equipped to play against Phoenix. OKC’s defensive weaknesses lie in their willingness to do without 3-pointers and a soft interior. They rank 23rd in defensive 3-point rate and 21st in defensive rim rate. However, the Suns make the fewest shots to the rim in the league and rank 16th in 3-point frequency.
The Suns have a net rating of -0.5 on the road compared to the Thunder’s net rating of +5.7 at home. Looking back over the last season, the Thunder continues to be undervalued in the market. The Thunder have been the second-best team against the spread for the past two seasons (49-30-3, 59.8%) and are the home favorite this season at 12-6 ATS.
The Suns are slightly underrated as street dogs (9-8-1) according to Statmuse, but if you took the names off the shirts and just looked at the stats for both sides, the Thunders would be favored by significantly more.
The Thunder have a double rematch at home in tonight’s game. I took her at -1 after the Ayton news broke and would take her down to -2.5 for a unit. Reduce the risk to -4.
Nets vs Nuggets Player Prop
Bryan Fonseca: Dorian Finney-Smith hasn’t had one of his better rebound seasons.
He has 5.5 boards per 36 minutes, a slight improvement from last year but the third-lowest of his career, which now spans seven seasons. Ditto for his 7.5 rebounds per 100 possessions. His overall rebound percentage, also his third worst record, is just 8.8%.
Those numbers have improved slightly in his 16 games with the Brooklyn Nets compared to his time in Dallas, perhaps because 15% of his minutes were played with his new team at the center. According to the basketball reference, that’s more than the 9% he’s spent with the Five in Dallas this season.
Ultimately, however, the over is too difficult to sell. In those 16 competitions, Finney-Smith has knocked down five or more boards only nine times, and only twice in his last six games. They also just played the Nuggets on March 12, and DFS logged over 38 minutes into the game and recorded zero rebounds. none. Not to mention he’s committed at least four personal fouls in three of his last four, including that game in Denver.
We take under 4.5 boards for DFS and don’t think twice about it today.
Suns versus thunder propagation
Chris Baker: The Thunder were blown out at 31 against the Suns a few weeks ago, but they lost their best player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
SGA is back in the roster and this team has been solid throughout with him on court. The Thunder has a net rating of +2.5 with SGA and -2.7 when off the ground. His return to consistent play shows that this team wants to be in the playoffs and will play all 82 games to compete for a play-in/playoff spot.
OKC Bank was a great post trade deadline for the most part as Dario Saric, Isaiah Joe and Lindy Waters all have excellent on/off ratings. Additionally, this team has no shortage of secondary playmaking due to the emergence of Jalen Williams and Josh Giddey as legitimate ball handlers.
On the downside, I’m concerned about the Suns’ ability to generate consistent offense without Deandre Ayton and Kevin Durant in the lineup. Devin Booker is certainly elite, but behind him the Suns only have the ghost of Chris Paul and a few 3 and D role players. Booker is often shadowed by Luguentz Dort, so it can be difficult for him to get to his seats.
The Suns offense should also see a drop in efficiency due to Ayton’s absence. He’s fifth in the NBA in screen assists per game and offers nice post presence against that small Thunder defense. Jock Landale isn’t a terrible substitute, but he’s not the same screener level as Ayton and will likely struggle to contain SGA’s dribbling penetration.
Ultimately, I’m more concerned about the Suns’ secondary playmaking depth than the Thunders, and that’s enough for me to support the Thunders at home at this pick ’em price point. Play this down to -2.
Nets vs Nuggets Player Prop
Prop Bomb: Nikola Jokic and his team have lost five of their last six games and with a tight margin today I see value in his rebound props.
Nicolas Claxton is the only obstacle for Jokic on the glass and the Brooklyn Nets have been struggling with the rebound lately. They allow the most offensive rebounds (12.2) and defensive rebounds (39.0) per game in the league since the All-Star break and the second-most at center position (18.33) in their last 15 games.
Jokic is averaging 11.8 rebounds per game, below his prop line, but sometimes it’s worth paying the premium because last Sunday he was a monster on the boards, nabbing 20 rebounds from 28 chances in his previous meeting against the nets
As far as the matchup goes, I expect Jokic’s rebound threats Aaron Gordon (6.7 rebounds per game) and Michael Porter Jr. (5.3 rebounds per game) to be off the basket on defense to wing like Mikal Bridges and Dorian-Finney Smith to defend and Cameron Johnson on the edge. This should result in Jokic staying close to the suit to protect a lower-usage Nicolas Claxton, increasing the likelihood of snagging a board.
In addition, the Brooklyn Nets have recently ceded big boards to opposing centers, including against Domantas Sabonis (20 rebounds), Bobby Portis/Brook Lopez (23 rebounds combined), Alperen Sengun (12 rebounds), Mark Williams (14 rebounds) and Nikola Vucevic/Andre Drummond (20 combined rebounds).
Despite recent trends and an inflated line, I expect plenty of rebound opportunities for the reigning two-time MVP in a favorable matchup. I would comfortably get his rebounding prop to -130.
Raptors vs Bucks Player Prop
Jim Turvey: Playing without a rest day this season has been a legitimate bugbear for Scottie Barnes this season. For the year, he’s averaging 15.6 points per game on 45/30/77 shooting splits. However, in the 10 games in which he played zero rest days, those numbers drop to 12.1 points per game on 43/8(!!)/63 shooting.
Well, Barnes is by no means a true talent, eight percent 3-point shooter with no days off, but I think that sends a certain signal for a few reasons: he’s still a young player, not as used to the rigors of is the NBA schedule. Some of the rumors of problems in the organization include that he sees himself as the chosen one and may not put in the work required to be at that level. This is the second straight season he’s seen this type of gap with no rest days.
I’ll make sure his total score goes down on Sunday.