NBA Picks Today | Free Expert Picks (2/17/2021)

Al Walsh
Al Walsh Chief Sports Writer

Wednesday’s 10-game NBA schedule promises to have plenty of excitement attached to it. ESPN will carry the national-TV doubleheader with matchups between the Houston Rockets at Philadelphia 76ers and Miami Heat at Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, neither of those games will be covered but I do have four plays that are better suited for success.

Last night, I went 2-1 to bring my NBA picks season record to 17-6 ATS. The Boston Celtics cover on -3 and Toronto Raptors-Milwaukee Bucks o234.5 were my two winners while the Phoenix Suns could not hold on to a late lead and spoil my perfect night. That seems to be happening too much, my perfect nights being spoiled at the end.

Here are the four NBA games you can bet on tonight with confidence:



New York Knicks (-4) at Orlando Magic – Total: 209.5

NYK: 4 games in 6 days
ORL: 2 days rest

There’s a nice combo of trends working for us in this Knicks-Magic matchup. I know taking the under is like being a member of the fun police, but the Knicks are running the slowest pace (97.7) in the NBA this season and rank fourth best in defensive efficiency (106.3).

It’s odd, but there is a trend for the Magic dating back to last season. In the 2019-20 season, Orlando home games went under the total at the second-lowest rate in the NBA (40%). That trend has continued this season, with those same games going over the total at the fourth-lowest rate (38.5%).

It’s an extremely low total by today’s NBA standards, but I believe it’s there for a good reason.

Betting Pick: Under 210 points (buy .5 point)


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Detroit Pistons at Chicago Bulls (-3) – Total: 221.5

DET: 2 days rest
CHI: normal rest

I would actually feel very comfortable taking the Pistons to win outright (+130 ML), so certainly consider going that route.

The Pistons had an extra day of rest over the Bulls, who are coming off a tough OT victory against the Indiana Pacers in their last game. A lot of people don’t realize it but Detroit is playing some great ball of late, winning three out of the last four games- and that was after playing a very tough schedule against some of the NBA’s best.

Nevertheless, the spread is what says it all. An 8-19 team is only getting three points against a an 11-15 Bulls team that is playing much better themselves since the start of the season; seems a bit sketchy to me.

Detroit has held its own as a road underdog at 6-6-1 ATS this season while Chicago is only 1-3 SU/ATS as a home favorite.

Betting Pick: Pistons +3


Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans (-2.5) – Total: 236.5

POR: back-end b2b (@OKC yesterday), 3 games in 4 days, 5 games in 7 days
NO: back-end b2b (@MEM yesterday), 3 games in 4 days, 4 games in 6 days

I’ll do my best to explain the rationale behind this bet, so bear with me- there are a lot of moving parts.

Let’s start with the scheduling scenario for the teams, because it is not a pretty sight. Both teams are at least playing on the back end of a B2B set (both on the road last night) and their third game in four days; the Trail Blazers will be playing their fifth game in seven days while the Pelicans will be playing their fourth game in six days. If you’re not familiar with the human body, that’s a lot of wear and tear in a short amount of time.

What’s interesting is that the total actually rose by 5-6 points at most sportsbooks- but is that the right call? As of 12 pm EST, 85% of the bets made are on the total going over while 63% of the betting handle is on the under. That’s the second-largest differential of bets made/money spent on Wednesday’s entire slate.

It would be interesting to see if any key players sit this game out; that would give us an even bigger benefit to taking the under.

Betting Pick: Under 237 points (buy .5 point)


Oklahoma City Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies (-7.5) – Total: 224

OKC: back-end b2b (vs. POR yesterday), 3 games in 4 days, 4 games in 6 days
MEM: back-end b2b (vs. NO yesterday), 3 games in 4 days, 4 games in 6 days

I’ll go against today’s betting trends and go on my own faith with OKC in this matchup. Sure, the scheduling scenario is a little worse for them but it’s not great for Memphis either (see above).

I feel like this is just too many points to be giving the Thunder. After all, they are 11-3 ATS as a road underdog this season. There are a lot of young legs on OKC, they should be able to handle it. I would expect this to be a chippy low-scoring game that won’t see either team take too big of a lead in this one.

Over the last 10 games, it’s worth noting that the Thunder are averaging about five more rebounds per game than the Grizzlies, while the latter is also allowing opponents to shoot 52% from the field over that same span.

Betting Pick: Thunder +7.5