NBA Odds & Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Picks for Bucks-Thunder, Cavaliers-Clippers, More (Sunday, Feb. 14)

Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Collin Sexton (left) and Kevin Love.

Is there a more romantic way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than with a jam-packed, 10-game NBA slate?

Our staff is finding value on three games Sunday night, including Bucks-Thunder, Lakers-Nuggets and Cavaliers-Clippers.

We apologize in advance for the many Valentine’s Day-themed puns and Sexland mentions to follow.

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NBA Odds & Picks

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Bucks-Thunder 8 p.m. ET
Lakers-Nuggets 10 p.m. ET
Cavaliers-Clippers 10 p.m. ET

Bucks-Thunder

Pick Al Horford Over 4.5 Assists
Bet Now
Tipoff 8 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass

Brandon AndersonThe theme of this pandemic-infused season of basketball is opportunity. All season long, teams have continued to play shorthanded basketball, and in the world of props that creates opportunity.

Where one lead scorer is missing, three or four other guys will have to score a few extra buckets to make up those 25 points. Where one All-NBA defender is out, an opponent has an opportunity. When a creator is missing, someone else will have to do some more passing.

That last one is the angle for Al Horford today. The Thunder continue to play without any of their normal rotation guards. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is still out with a knee injury, George Hill hasn’t played in weeks, and rookie Theo Maledon is sidelined too. This will be Oklahoma City’s fourth game in the last 10 days without that trio of guards, and it’s led to some throwback numbers for Al Horford.

In the first game with all three guards sidelined, Horford dropped 26 points, seven rebounds and eight assists on the forlorn Timberwolves, a throwback to the good old Horford days. Five days later, he nearly matched that line against the Lakers with 25 points, eight boards, and eight dimes. Horford’s last game was a step back from those two but still a nice line with 16 points, five rebounds, and four assists. Add it all up, and he’s averaging 22.3 points, 6.7 boards, and 6.7 assists per game as the focal pivot man of this Thunder attack while they basically have no other option.

One of those games saw Oklahoma City experiment with “Point Diallo” as raw Hamidou Diallo racked up 10 assists. Kenrich Williams nearly recorded a triple-double in OKC’s last game with seven points, 11 boards and nine assists. The Thunder are grinding, featuring these undrafted players in outsize roles, and they’re even hanging close, too.

They’ve lost the three aforementioned games, but lost all three by a combined six points. And the one constant has been Horford, who is nothing if not constant throughout his career.

This assists line of 4.5 is a kindness today. Horford was on pace for another huge game his last time out with a big first quarter before fading the rest of the game. I think he hits five dimes with ease so I’ll take the over here up to -125.

And if you’re excited we get to bet on a player as handsome as Horford on Valentine’s Day too, well then, happy Valentine’s Day to you. May all your (Denzel) Valentine wishes come true.

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

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nba-odds-picks-los-angeles-lakers-vs-detroit-pistons-betting-january-28-lebron-jamesJesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: LeBron James.

Lakers-Nuggets

Pick Lakers -1.5
Bet Now
Tipoff 10 p.m. ET
TV NBA League Pass

Joe DelleraWhen these teams played 10 days ago, PJ Dozier and Gary Harris both missed that game and the Lakers blew the Nuggets out in a 21-point victory. The biggest issue was that the Nuggets could not stop the Lakers’ offense, particularly at the rim and in transition.

The Lakers pushed the pace and got into transition on 22.5% of their possessions, which is a massive advantage for them. If the Lakers are able to replicate this, they’re going to win. They average transition opportunities on 15.6% of their possessions and score 125.2 points per 100 transition plays, which is about league average.

Denver struggles to stop transition opportunities off of live rebounds, which is a huge problem against a Lakers team who has the fourth-best rebounding rate in the league (52%), per NBA Advanced Stats. I think this is a great bounce-back spot for Anthony Davis and considering the Lakers dominated their last game without Davis putting up a great game, I expect that to continue.

However, considering his Achilles injury, make sure he’s playing before locking in this bet.

[Bet now at FanDuel and get a $1,000 risk-free bet.]

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Cavaliers-Clippers

Pick Collin Sexton Over 3.5 Assists (-155)
Bet Now
Tipoff 10 p.m. ET
TV NBA TV

Brandon AndersonHey, want to hear a joke? What was the lonely single dude doing on Valentine’s Day evening while he watched the Clippers dominate the Cavs on NBA TV?

Give up?

Not much, just Collin… Se– you get the point. I’ll be here all night.

So will Kevin Love, though he’s not healthy enough to play, unfortunately. The Cavs sure could use him.

The days of Cleveland hanging around in the standings are over, and the Cavs have lost 10 of their last 12 games, seven of them by at least 18 points. Cleveland is moving toward the bottom of the Eastern standings now and appears to be heading toward its youth movement, which was always the plan anyway.

That means more minutes for Isaac Okoro, Jarrett Allen and Dylan Windler lately, and it means our Props Tool actually likes Andre Drummond under 12.5 rebounds as the top play on the board for Cleveland with his minutes dwindling of late.

But I prefer to ride with another one of the Cavs youngsters, their pun-tastic guard Collin Sexton. Sexton has quietly put himself on the All-Star radar with 22.8 points per game, including 42.5% behind the arc. Early in the season, Sexton was ceding the point guard duties to Darius Garland — his Sexland partner in crime — but Garland has been doing more playmaking since his return from a two-week absence.

He’s up from 3.5 assists per game before that break to 4.8 APG after that. Before his time away, Sexton was over 3.5 assists in in four of his eight games. Since his return, he’s gone over that line in 10 of 14 games, hitting this prop 71.4% of the time. That’s up even further lately, to five of his last six games hitting over 3.5 assists.

Sexton’s minutes are up, too, and that’s encouraging because it means we probably don’t have to worry about Cleveland benching him if this game gets out of hand. It might even mean Sexton racking up some garbage time stats against Clippers backups late in the game, if we get lucky. The books haven’t caught up to Sexton’s expanded playmaking here, so even at -155, the juice is worth the squeeze.

I’ll play to -175 and might even consider playing over 4.5 dimes at FanDuel for plus juice if I can’t find the 3.5.

And if you don’t get a response to that late-night “U up?” text this Valentine’s Day, take heart. Someday, your (Taurean) Prince will come.

[Bet now at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

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