Handicapping the NBA: Thursday Picks

Handicapping the NBA: Thursday Picks

This article is part of our Handicapping the NBA series.

Alex Barutha

James Harden UNDER 31.5 points+rebounds+assists (-115) at MIL – FanDuel (11:53 AM CT)

I don't think 48 hours is enough for Harden to recover significantly and look as good as this line indicates. He was a shell of himself during Game 5, and even if he improves marginally, this still won't be an easy number to hit. Ultimately, I think he's still pretty injured.

Nick Whalen

Brooklyn Nets +6.0 (-114) at MIL – DraftKings (12:29 PM CT)

As the number implies, there seems to be a swell of optimism in the wake of Milwaukee's devastating Game 5 loss. Playing at home should bring the Bucks some advantage, but the Nets have outplayed them for most the series, and Game 5 proved that they're more than capable of competing without Kyrie Irving and with a hobbled James Harden. It's probably unrealistic to expect Kevin Durant to play 48 minutes and repeat his Game 5 masterpiece, but Harden – even if he's still nursing the hamstring injury – virtually has to play better than he did Tuesday night. I do think the Bucks find a way to win this game, but nothing in this series has come easy for Milwaukee, so I'll take Brooklyn to cover.

Brook Lopez UNDER 13.5 points (+100) vs. BKN – DraftKings

Lopez went over this number on Tuesday, but he's gone under 13.5 points in three of the five games in the series. If he's hitting threes (he drained three in Game 5), Lopez can be a dangerous weapon, but if he's not, he tends to fade into the background while Giannis, Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton play one-on-one. Lopez was also exposed in a major way defensively during the second half of Game 5. The Bucks have been willing to live and die by Lopez at the 5, but I wouldn't be surprised if they pull back slightly on his workload and re-insert Bobby Portis into the frontcourt rotation after a surprising DNP-CD on Tuesday.

Joe Bartel

Brook Lopez under 6.5 rebounds (+105) vs. BKNBetMGM (10:25 AM CT)

The Bucks need to make an adjustment after being torched by Kevin Durant in Game 5, and I suspect Brook Lopez's minutes have to be the first on the docket. The center was absolutely picked apart in the pick and roll during the second half, and he didn't have the speed/agility to fly out in the front of screens when the Bucks tried to contest the knifing drives into the paint later on. I'm not sure if PJ Tucker ends up getting more playing time or if coach Mike Budenholzer attempts to try his luck with Bobby Portis, but Tuesday's contest showed the answer was decidedly not Lopez. The 33-year-old has also gone under this rebound total three games this series.

Jacob Lebowitz

James Harden OVER 15.5 Points (-115) at MIL – BetMGM (1:10 PM CT)

Harden struggled in his return to the court in Game 5, as he scored five points and only hit 1-of-10 from the field. While this may seem like a risky bet, Harden managed to score 16 or more points in 44 of the 51 total games he's played in this season. With Game 6 set to be a potential series-clinching game for the Nets, coach Steve Nash will likely give Harden 40 plus minutes as he did in Game 5. I also feel that Kevin Durant's insane performance in Game 5 will cause there to be less attention on Harden for Game 6. I expect Harden to have a bounce back performance Thursday night after he recorded one of his worst scoring performances of the year in Game 5.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Joe Bartel
Joe Bartel is RotoWire's Operations Specialist and football contributor among many other things. When not at the office, he's probably playing a variety of Gen 4 console games or rooting on his beloved Green Bay Packers.
Alex Barutha
Alex is RotoWire's NBA Assistant Editor. He writes articles about daily fantasy, year-long fantasy and sports betting. You can hear him on the RotoWire NBA Podcast, Sirius XM, DraftKings Live and other platforms. Vince Carter and Alex both first dunked during their respective sophomore years of high school.
Jacob Lebowitz
Jacob writes about fantasy sports and sports betting for RotoWire. He's always doing something sports-related whether that's playing NBA 2K, watching a football game or playing a game of pickup basketball.
Nick Whalen
RotoWire's NBA Editor and host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Nick was awarded the FSWA Best Podcast -- All Sports award in 2017 and 2018. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.
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