The majority of the sports betting world is hyper-focused on college basketball’s conference tournament action Thursday. But don’t sleep on the pro hardwood, as six games are available for your wagering pleasure.
The best of the bunch are out West, where four playoff contenders will duke it out in a pair of nationally televised battles.
First, the Ja Morant-less Grizzlies host Steph Curry and the defending champion Warriors. Then the Knicks will attempt to rebound from an upset loss that snapped a nine-game winning streak when they visit the surprising Kings in Sacramento.
Here are our three favorite player props predictions from these two marquee Thursday night matchups.
Odds updated as of 2:45 p.m. ET on March 9.
Warriors vs. Grizzlies prop: Steph Curry total made 3-pointers
Gee, it sure didn’t take the best 3-point shooter in NBA history to regain his long-range stroke after an 11-game injury absence.
Two days after going 5-for-13 from beyond the arc in his return against the Lakers, Curry on Tuesday hit a season-high 10 treys (in 16 attempts) at Oklahoma City.
The former two-time NBA MVP finished with 25 points in Los Angeles and 40 at Oklahoma City — his fifth 40-point game of the season (and just his second since mid-November).
Unfortunately for the Warriors, they didn’t come close to cashing in those Curry masterpieces. Golden State lost 113-105 in L.A. and 137-128 in OKC, falling to 7-25 on the road — the fourth-worst road record in the NBA.
However, that dreadful mark isn’t the fault of the offense, which is averaging 116.8 points per game on the highway (third-most in the league). Conversely, only the San Antonio Spurs have given up more points on the road (124.3) than the Warriors (123.6).
So even though Morant remains out of the lineup for the Grizzlies, we expect Golden State to engage in another high-flying shootout Thursday in Memphis.
And there’s every reason to believe that Curry will do his part with another big 3-point shooting night. After all, he’s made at least five triples in 12 of his 20 road games — including nine of 11 when he’s played at least 35 minutes.
We bring that up because Curry played 32 minutes in L.A. and 35½ in Oklahoma City. There’s no reason to think Curry won’t continue to see increased court time as he continues to shake off the rust from his layoff and work his way into playoff shape.
Knicks vs. Kings prop: Julius Randle total points scored
Odds: 28.5 Over -110/Under -120 (BetMGM)
Randle is in the midst of a career year, as his 25.3 points-per-game average beats any of his first eight NBA seasons. He’s also been a workhorse, playing in all 67 of New York’s games.
Make no mistake: Randle is the main reason why the Knicks are firmly in the playoffs right now, sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference.
That said, the 6-foot-8 forward has topped 28 points in just 23 of his 67 contests. Ah, but here’s the twist: Randle has been an absolute monster in enemy territory.
Six of his seven highest-scoring games this season? On the road.
Fourteen of his 17 highest-scoring games this season? On the road.
Seventeen of his 24 games with 29-plus points this season? On the road.
Now you know why Randle is averaging 4.4 points per game more on the road (27.6) than at Madison Square Garden (23.2).
Interested in Randle’s recent performances? Well, since Jan. 31, he’s gone over 28 points in one of 10 home games (31 against the Jazz; he also had 28 against both the Clippers and Pelicans).
Randle’s point totals since Jan. 31 in six road games: 22, 30, 25, 46, 43 and 31.
OK, so Randle only had 27 points when he faced the Kings back on Dec. 11. But that game was at The Garden. And he played just 27 minutes.
Care to know how Randle did in the bucket-filling department when he visited Sacramento last year? 46 points.
Throw in the fact that the Kings give up the third-most points per game both overall (118.4) and at home (118.8), and Randle is a strong bet to post his 21st 30-point game of the season (and fourth straight on the road).
Knicks vs. Kings prop: De’Aaron Fox total rebounds and assists
Odds: 11.5, Over +100/Under -128 (FanDuel)
Fox has missed two of the Kings’ last four games because of hamstring soreness. But the All-Star point guard is expected back on the floor Thursday.
That’s not exactly good news for New York, as Fox leads Sacramento in scoring (25.5 points per game). Most recently, the former Kentucky standout has topped 30 points in 10 of his last 12 games (including four of five at home).
What do those prolific scoring performances have to do with his rebounds/assists prop for Thursday? A lot, actually.
Because while Fox has been going off in the scoring department lately, he hasn’t been filling the stat sheet in the other two main columns. Total rebounds and assists in his last eight games: 11, 9, 8, 6, 17, 11, 14 and 9.
So Fox has beaten this FanDuel rebounds/assists prop just twice in the last month (and only once in five home contests).
Also, even though Fox has bettered his career averages this season in both rebounds (career-best 4.3 per game) and assists (6.3), that still pencils out to 10.6 per outing.
In what figures to be a typical up-tempo Kings game, look for Fox to shoulder the bulk of the scoring load (as usual). That should depress his rebounding and assist opportunities.
And if Fox can at least get to 33 points, we should be in good shape with this prop. Because Fox has hit that scoring mark 13 times this season and finished with fewer than 11.5 rebounds/assists on 10 of those occasions.
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