The final night of NBA betting before the All-Star break has only two games in action. Thankfully, both matchups are great and there is never a shortage of NBA odds to attack.
Analyst Monique Vag breaks down Clippers at Celtics and Thunder at Pelicans, giving her best NBA picks for the pointspreads, totals, and props.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS AT BOSTON CELTICS
The Celtics have won 22 of their first 27 home games this season (16-10-1 ATS), including six straight heading into Thursday night. Boston welcomes the Clippers, who average 114 points per game away from home.
The Celtics have struggled to get out to a good start over their last three games, averaging only 25 first-quarter points (ranked 30th overall in that span), and were recently held to 19 points in the opening frame versus the Thunder.
The Clippers defense has been stingy out of the gate as a visitor, holding host teams to just 45.1 percent shooting in the first quarter this season. After falling behind early to Philadelphia on Tuesday, expect L.A. to put an emphasis on defense in the opening 12 minutes of this game. Bet Under the first quarter game total of 59.
BOSTON BEAT DOWNS
The last three meetings between Clippers and Celtics have each been won by Los Angeles, posting an average score of 123-110 (2-1 ATS). The Clippers shot above 50 percent from the floor in those three meetings while the Celtics struggled, shooting just over 42 percent.
With Los Angeles winning five of the last six in the head-to-head versus Boston and nine of the last 10 versus Atlantic Division opponents, taking the points with a very capable road dog is never a bad idea. Go with Los Angeles +2.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER AT NEW ORLEANS PELICANS
The Pelicans are 2.5-point home favorites hosting the Thunder. New Orleans is fresh off a 138-117 blowout victory versus the Blazers Tuesday night and is averaging a league-high 129 points over its last three outings.
The Pelicans are really cooking at home in recent weeks, averaging 123 points on 45.5 percent shooting over their last five contests inside the Smoothie King Center. They’ve topped the total in nine of their last dozen home games and are 7-3 Over/Under in their last 10 matchups with OKC in the Big Easy. We like the Pelicans to play Over their team total of 117.5.
OPEN WITH A BANG
Along with their hot shooting the Pelicans have gotten out to very quick starts in recent games, averaging 65 points per first 24 minutes over their last three contests. The Thunder, however, have been on the opposite side of this stat, averaging just 53 first-half points on the road this season.
With Oklahoma City managing only 41 first-half points versus a porous Spurs defense at home Tuesday, we like New Orleans to be leading at the break. Take its first-half moneyline at -130.
POINT OF WEAKNESS
As good as the Pelicans have been offensively, they have needed those big numbers to overcome a weak defense, which is surrendering 117.2 points per game on the year. New Orleans been particularly vulnerable versus opposing point guards, allowing 24.9 points and nine assists per contest to the position.
Thunder veteran PG Chris Paul has dished out seven or more assists six times in his last nine game, including 10 assists in three of those performances. Expect Paul to be a factor in orchestrating the Thunder offense. Bet Over his assists total of 6.5.