Last Updated Oct 18, 2022, 1:12 PM

NBA Best Bets for Thursday March 5, 2020 - TNT Predictions, Warriors and Rockets

Thursday's NBA Free Picks

It's the usual Thursday showcase in the NBA, and had Golden State not been ravaged by injuries this year, TNT network executives would have loved the slate they've got today.

The late game is a NBA Finals rematch between Toronto and Golden State, and that follows a Clippers/Houston game which could end up being a deep playoff series in the West in a couple of months.

It's those two games that get the spotlight treatment for today's piece, so let's get to it:

NBA Best Bet
L.A. Clippers at Houston Rockets

Betting Odds: Rockets -1, Over/Under 235

Date: March, 5, 2020
TV/Time: TNT, 8:05 p.m. ET
Venue: Toyota Center
Location: Houston, Texas

Expectations are high this year for both the Clippers and the Rockets, and a game like this in the beginning of March is always a good barometer for the two teams involved, as well as sports bettors keeping things in mind for the future. It's NBA Finals or bust for both of these squads, and after all three of their previous meetings this year came before December 20th, it will be nice to see where they both stand a few months later.

Houston went a perfect 3-0 ATS (2-1 ATS) in those earlier meetings, but those were also long before the days of small ball for the Rockets. The shift to that playing style is a huge change for sure, and to put it up against a team that can be as stout defensively as the Clippers can will be a unique challenge. However, at the same time, it's also why I've got no interest in the side tonight. Instead, it's the total that's caught my eye.

The interesting thing about tonight's total is that Houston's small ball style doesn't necessarily lead to a lot of points when playing another quality foe. Sure, there was 248 points put up in Houston's loss to the Knicks last time out, but the Knicks are far from an upper echelon team. But if you look back at most of Houston's recent games against “quality” foes, you'll see a lot of 'unders' following suit.

There was the OT win in Boston two games ago, a game that landed on 221 with five extra minutes and still stayed well below the 233 total. That result came a couple weeks after Houston knocked off the Celtics with 221 total points again – this time in regulation – but still staying 'under' the 232.5 total. There were two games against Utah in the month of February for Houston that both stayed 'under' the total as well, and Houston's most recent meeting with the Lakers – a 121-111 Houston win – landed a couple of possessions 'under' that total as well. Small ball may work rather well when you can outshoot lesser competition, but when Houston's up against those that are expected to have some say in claiming this year's title, the Rockets better bring their defense as well.

LA has the defenders to match Houston any way they really want, and while it's highly intriguing to see what kind of defensive systems the Clippers employ tonight, no matter what they choose, I do believe there will be some sustained success. Enough for LA to win the game? Maybe. But it should be enough to help keep this game below tonight's total.

This game could easily end up feeling like a playoff game for these teams, and if that's how it plays out, unless Houston is lights out from beyond the arc, somewhere around the 230 mark is where points in this game top out.

Best Bet: Under 236

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Odds Subject to Change (T&C's Apply, 21+)

NBA Best Bet
Toronto Raptors at Golden State Warriors

Betting Odds: Raptors -8, Over-Under 225

Date: March 5, 2020
TV/Time: TNT, 10:35 p.m. ET
Venue: Chase Center
Location: San Francisco, California

The Raptors were able to shut down the old Oracle Arena last year with their NBA Championship in six games, and sadly this return match in Oakland lacks all the luster that Finals rematches tend to have. Golden State's in a new building, have had a horrible year riddled with injuries, and while the Raptors have maintained a high level of success, they've been hit hard by injuries all year long.

There is good news on the horizon if you are a Warriors fan though, as Steph Curry returns to the floor tonight. These final 20 games for Curry are likely nothing more then a basic conditioning stint for him as the organization moves towards 2021, but with him on the floor the Warriors are unquestionably a better team. But I wouldn't expect Curry to all of a sudden light the NBA on fire over the next couple of weeks now that he's back.

That being said, I do believe this is a few too many points for the Raptors to be laying here. The Warriors will almost assuredly ride a nice emotional boost early with Curry's return, and that could end up propelling the rest of the Warriors for the whole 48 minutes. But even if that spark doesn't last for the entirety of the game, I do believe the Warriors find a way to keep this one close.

For one, Toronto is just 8-7 ATS overall this year as a road favorite, and since the calendar has hit 2020, Toronto is 0-3 ATS as a road favorite of 7 or more points, a number that stretches out to 0-4 ATS for the entire season. That's definitely not a run I'd be looking to step in front of, especially when a former MVP and face of Golden State's franchise is making his long awaited return tonight.

Furthermore, amid rumors that Curry was going to return earlier, it's hard not to think he and the Warriors had this date circled for more reasons other then his health. Health-wise, Curry could have probably returned last week or so, but to come back against the team that beat them for the title last year had to be highly considered. There is little chance this game vs Toronto for Curry's return was picked by accident, and with professional athletes always loving to exact some revenge, or be able to say “told you so” at times, there aren't many ore motivating things out there besides chasing titles.

Simply put, expect the best version of this current Warriors team tonight, as they hang tough with the defending champs tonight.

Best Bet: Golden State +8

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Odds Subject to Change (T&C's Apply, 21+)

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