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Top NBA Betting Picks of the Week – March 4th, 2024

By Hank Blaine

Some tough news for the Houston Rockets as they chase a Western Conference play-in tournament spot as good young forward Tari Eason will have season-ending surgery on his left leg Monday. Eason, who has been out since Jan. 1 and has appeared in only 22 games this season, has been dealing with a benign growth on his left shin-bone. Here’s a look at two intriguing early-week matchups.

Top NBA Betting Picks of the Week (March 4th, 2024)

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers

  • When: Monday, March 4th, 2024, 10:30 PM ET
  • Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, CA
  • TV: Spectrum SportsNet, Bally Sports OK
  • Radio: WWLS-The Sports Animal 98.1 FM (Thunder) // ESPN LA 710 (Lakers)
  • Stream: NBA League Pass
  • NBA Odds: Thunder (+1) // Lakers (-1)

Second game of an NBA TV doubleheader and the first time LeBron James returns to the court since becoming the first NBA player to ever reach 40,000 career points – a mark that almost surely will never be approached. LeBron got to 40K in Saturday’s 124-114 home loss to Denver, which snapped the Lakers’ two-game winning streak. James got there with a driving layup at the 10:39 mark of the second quarter. He finished with 26 points, putting his career total at 40,017 career points.

James reached the milestone on the 62nd anniversary of Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game. In the locker room after the game, James posed for a photograph while holding a piece of white paper with “40,000” handwritten on it — a tip of the cap to Chamberlain’s iconic photo from March 2, 1962. No other active player has even 30,000 career points.

“I feel like I’m still that threat out on the floor and I am still able to do the things that I was doing 10 years ago,” James said afterward. “And some things I was doing 20 years ago, which is weird to say. … For me, the main thing is always the main thing, and that’s the win. I hated that it had to happen in the defeat, especially versus the team that plays extremely well. We played some good basketball tonight, but wasn’t able to close it out. So, bittersweet but enjoyed every moment tonight on the floor.”

LeBron probably will be listed questionable for this one because he is usually, but generally plays. Austin Reaves had 19 points and a career-high 14 assists in Saturday’s loss. Anthony Davis had 17 points and 11 rebounds. Davis has recorded a double-double in eight straight games, tallying 17 or more points in all those outings. He has been battling soreness in both heels but should continue to suit up.

Oklahoma City star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is on pace to become only the third player in NBA history to average at least 30-plus points and two-plus steals while shooting 50% or better from the field (Stephen Curry and Michael Jordan). SGA also leads the NBA in steals and is second in deflections. He might win his first MVP Award. Oklahoma City ranks 3rd in offensive rating (119.4) and 4th in defensive rating (111.1), leading to OKC holding the second-best net rating in the league (8.4).

This concludes the season series between the teams, although a playoff matchup is possible. The Lakers lead 2-1 and won the last matchup 112-105 on Jan. 15. Davis had 27 points and 15 rebounds, and LeBron scored 25. Gilgeous-Alexander scored 16 of his 24 points in the first half while playing through a right knee sprain. Jalen Williams scored 25 points, but Chet Holmgren and Josh Giddey both struggled offensively to a combined 17 points for the Thunder.

These two teams have met 266 times in the regular season (155-111) but just 55 times (27-28) since the Thunder relocated to Oklahoma City prior to the 2008-09 season. The Lakers are 25-21 all-time against Oklahoma City at Crypto.com Arena.

NBA Betting Pick: Lakers

Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

  • When: Tuesday, March 5th, 2024, 7:30 PM ET
  • Where: State Farm Arena, Atlanta, GA
  • TV: TNT
  • Radio: WBZ-FM 98.5 (Celtics) // WTAM 1100 AM (Cavaliers)
  • Stream: NBA League Pass
  • NBA Odds: TBA

TNT game on Tuesday and a possible Eastern Conference Finals preview. Will the Celtics have big man Kristaps Porzingis? He missed Sunday’s game against Golden State due to a left quad contusion. Porzingis, 28, is averaging 20.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.8 blocks in 44 games (all starts) this season. In his last 25 games, Porzingis is averaging 21.3 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 blocks, while shooting 52.7 percent from the floor and 40.6 percent from 3-point range. He was hurt Friday in a win over Dallas.

At 1.215 points per possession, the Celtics have the most efficient offense in NBA history. Entering this season, 1.186 points per possession was the NBA record held by Sacramento in 2023. Jayson Tatum is averaging 27.1 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.0 steals per game while owning a 60.6 true shooting percentage. Only three other players have averaged a 27.0/8.0/4.0 stat line and 60.0 TS% on a team with .750 win percentage in a single season in NBA history — Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Karl Malone.

Since the All-Star break, the Celtic starting 5 of Jaylen Brown, Tatum, Porzingis, Jrue Holiday and Derrick White has an offensive rating of 147.6., a defensive rating of 109.0, a net of 38.6, and an effective field goal percentage of 72.6. White is one of only two players in the NBA to compete in at least 80 minutes in the clutch without committing a single turnover. He also has knocked down 10 clutch three-pointers (10-20 3FG), which is the second most threes in the league trailing only Steph Curry at 28 threes.

Monitor the status of Cavs guards Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert as both have been dealing with some injuries that forced them to miss games but they will absolutely want to play here if at all possible in a marquee matchup on national TV. Mitchell is averaging career-highs this season in rebounds (5.4 RPG) assists (6.2 APG), steals (1.81 SPG) and blocked shots (0.51 BPG). He is 1 of only 3 NBA players averaging 28.0+ PPG, 5.0+ RPG, 6.0+ APG and 1.5+ SPG (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luka Dončić). Mitchell ranks 3rd in the NBA in steals (1.81 SPG) and 4th in points (28.0 PPG).

This concludes the season series between the teams with Boston up 2-0 – taking both at home. They haven’t played, though, since Dec. 14 when the Celtics won 116-107 behind 22 points from Tatum and 22 from Brown. Mitchell paced Cleveland with 31 points, and LeVert finished with 26. Cavs point guard Darius Garland fractured his jaw in a collision with Porzingis but is back healthy now.

Cleveland has won 12 of its last 14 home games since Jan. 3rd, marking the 2nd-best home winning percentage in the NBA over that span (best in the East).

NBA Betting Pick: Cavaliers

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This is just one of the many sports betting guides that you can read here at Nitrobetting news. Stay tuned for more 2023-24 NBA season previews and articles, and don’t forget to check out the latest basketball betting odds on our online BTC sportsbook.

*All odds stated are subject to change without prior notice.

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