Thursday NBA Predictions After the All-Star Break

Photo: Sky Sports

The All-Star Break was a lot of fun, but it is time to get back to actual games that have real consequences to each team’s race towards the playoffs.

We’ll be using odds from the trusted online betting powerhouse BetOnline, so be sure to check out the linked review to see if they are right for you.

We’ve keyed in on two games to look at on Thursday. Let’s break them down and see if we can come up with a couple of predictions.

Portland Trail Blazers Vs. Brooklyn Nets

The Trail Blazers head to Brooklyn to visit the Nets and the opening line is a pk at -110 (pick’em). The Nets rank No. 22 at TR, while the Blazers have fallen to No. 11.

If we just look at basic scoring and defense, it would seem that the Nets have a clear advantage. The Trail Blazers average just a smidge under 109 points per game on the road, while giving up 113.32. Brooklyn puts up 114.9 at the Barclays Center and holds teams to 113.70.

Ok, so right off the bat we see that the Nets essentially have a four to a five-point advantage. The amount they score at home falls in line with what Portland gives up on the road.

But, this doesn’t factor in the level of competition. The Blazers have had a tough, tough schedule. They are also 11-5 against the spread and 8-4 straight up over their last 12.

Twitter/Portland Trail Blazers
Photo: Twitter/Portland Trail Blazers

The Nets have slumped a bit, winning just two of their last seven. But, they are 10-5 ATS overall and solid at home with a record of 10-2 straight up over their last 12 games. These teams play competitive ball against one another, with the point margin less than 1 over the last 10 meetings.

But, Portland is 8-2 against the Nets and has won 5 of the last 6. Over the last three games, the Blazers have averaged a four-point victory and Portland plays well at Barclays Center, taking four of the last five meetings in Brooklyn.

The Blazers will win this game, despite their recent road woes. Here’s why:

When we look at averages over the season, these two teams match up similarly on offense. The Blazers score 113.3 per game overall and the Nets put up 112.3 (one-point differential).

Fast breaks, points in the paint and assists are all within two and the total rebounds are almost identical. But, Portland owns almost every defensive stat.

Portland contributes one less foul per game, allows 5.1 fewer points in the pain, holds teams 2.4 fewer points on average, gets almost two more defensive rebounds per game and roughly one steal more.

When you add up all of these factors and stack them on top of an already close matchup, we come away with the conclusion that Portland will get a close win over the Nets.

NBC Sports
Photo: NBC Sports

Boston Celtics Vs. Milwaukee Bucks

The Celtics start out the second half of the season against the No. 1 team in the league. Not only do the Bucks have the best record in the league, but they are unanimously the top team, according to various predictive rankings and projection sites.

The spread is sitting at five points with Boston listed as the dogs. Although these teams have split victories evenly over their last 10 meetings, the Celtics have covered the spread seven of ten times. After a slow-ish start, the Celtics have hit their stride and put on a 12-3 run before getting put on pause by the All-Star Break.

The Bucks and Celtics have already met twice this season, both times in Boston. On November 1st, the Celtics won 117-113 and covered the 2.5-point spread. Then on December 21st, the Celtics hosted the Bucks once more and lost 107-120 failing to cover as +1.5 underdogs. But now, they head into Milwaukee.

This is tough because over the last 10 games the average margin of victory only favors the Bucks by 0.9 points and over the last three games, it favors the Celtics by 2.33 points. And the Celtics have won their last three road games consecutively.

Yahoo Sports (AFP Photo/Maddie Meyer)
Photo: Yahoo Sports (AFP Photo/Maddie Meyer)

But, Boston has only been so-so on the road this season, just barely above .500 on the highway. And when we factor in the league-leading 119.64 points per game the Bucks are scoring at home against the 109.89 the Celtics are averaging on the road, we have to consider the Bucks.

Milwaukee only allows 106.4 points per game in Fiserv Forum, So, we should expect Boston to score within those averages, 105-109. But, after the rest of the break and being at home, we could see the Bucks explode. So, we are going to take Milwaukee -5.