College basketball isn’t the only thing going mad in March. The NBA season is in the home stretch as we’re only about a month away from the postseason. Saturday’s slate is loaded, including a potential Finals preview between the Bucks and Warriors in prime time.
There’s plenty of other intriguing action on this seven-game slate, however, and that’s where our analysts are looking. We’ve got two picks for you, including Cavaliers vs. Bulls and Raptors vs. Nuggets.
Here are our two best bets from Saturday night’s NBA slate.
NBA Odds & Picks
|Click on a game to skip ahead|
|Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls||8 p.m. ET|
|Toronto Raptors vs. Denver Nuggets||9 p.m. ET|
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls
|Tipoff||8 p.m. ET|
Raheem Palmer: The Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t in a good spot tonight as they face the Chicago Bulls coming off their 117-105 loss to the Miami Heat on Friday night. Playing on back-to-back nights is tough enough, but the Cavs will be losing an hour flying from Miami to Chicago to take on a rested Bulls team that hasn’t played since a 114-108 win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
The Cavs have primarily won with their defense, which is fourth in Defensive Rating, allowing just 108 points per 100 possessions. However, it has fallen off a cliff recently. Over the past two weeks, the Cavs are allowing 117.4 points per 100 possessions — 22nd among NBA teams.
They’ll also be without Jarrett Allen, who is out indefinitely with a fractured finger, which is tough for a team reliant on his rim protection. Without Allen in the lineup, the Cavs are just 3-7 with a point differential of -24 and their average loss coming by 8.85 points.
They’ll be facing one of the best offenses in the league in a Bulls team with DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine, and against top-10 offenses the Cavs are allowing a whopping 124.9 points per 100 possessions the last two weeks. Although the Bulls’ offense has slipped recently, they’re in a favorable spot against a Cavaliers team that struggles to score and has a defense that can no longer carry them as it’s done most of the season.
Toronto Raptors vs. Denver Nuggets
|Pick||Nuggets First Half -2.5|
|Tipoff||9 p.m. ET|
Austin Wang: The Toronto Raptors pulled off an upset win against the Suns Friday night. Now, they turn around and travel to Denver to face the Nuggets on the second night of a back-to-back. This will be their third game in four nights and their fourth consecutive game on the road. With Pascal Siakam and Gary Trent Jr. both logging more than 40 minutes in Friday’s win, I see the Raptors in a let-down spot.
Since the 2017-18 season, the Nuggets are 28-4 straight up and 20-12 ATS at home against an opponent on the second night of a back-to-back, per the SDQL at Gimme The Dog. These teams are already fatigued from playing the night before and having to travel overnight. Factor in the high altitude of Denver and it comes as no surprise that the Nuggets have had a lot of success in this spot.
The Raptors have a versatile squad defensively, but they lack the size to contend with Nikola Jokic, who has been on a tear and making a strong case for MVP as of late. Aaron Gordon and Will Barton are listed as questionable, so keep your eyes on their status.
The Nuggets have had trouble covering full game spreads. According to our Bet Labs tool, the Nuggets are 31-36 ATS this season, but 38-26-3 ATS in the first half. They rank fourth in the league in first half Net Rating (7.5), per NBA Advanced Stats. The Raptors, on the other hand, are ranked 19th (-2.0) in first half Net Rating. They are 2-10 ATS in the first half in their previous 12 games.