NBA Betting Guide: Thursday 8/20/20

Can Nikola Vucevic and the Orlando Magic keep the pressure on the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2? What bets do our models like for today's NBA slate?

numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting on the total, game line, or moneyline. For those new to numberFire, we use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting on any given night. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager relative to what you would normally bet.

For example, if you would usually bet $110 to win $100 on a -110 spread wager, if we give a 3-star ranking, we suggest risking three times that amount: $330 to win $300.

Using our models as a guide, let's take a look at the best bets for tonight.

Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.

Orlando Magic vs Milwaukee Bucks

Magic +13.0: 3-Star Rating out of 5

While the Portland Trail Blazers may have pulled off the upset win over the Los Angeles Lakers, the more surprising Game 1 upset came from the Orlando Magic, who shockingly downed the Milwaukee Bucks by 12 points, behind a 35-point, 14-board effort from Nikola Vucevic. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Co. will be out for revenge in Game 2; our models foresee a win, but they also predict the Magic to cover the massive 13-point spread.

Tonight will mark just the fifth time this season that the Magic have been double-digit underdogs. They've gone 3-1 against the spread (ATS) in those previous contests and 2-0 when those games have come against the Bucks.

The Magic are 9-5 ATS this season when scoring more than 120 points in the previous contest, including a 6-1 ATS record in their past seven such games. Dating back to last season, the team is 5-1-1 ATS in games after Vucci Mane scores at least 30 points. The Bucks are 17-20 ATS this season following 30-plus-point games from Giannis, and they are on an 0-8 ATS streak in such games (0-4 ATS in the bubble).

Our models project the Bucks to win by 7.6 points this evening. We give the Magic a 66.4% chance of covering the 13-point spread. With an expected return of $126.70 on a $100 bet, we mark this as a three-star play.

Portland Trail Blazers vs Los Angeles Lakers

Blazers +6.5: 2-Star Rating out of 5

Thanks to a late flurry of threes (as well as four straight missed free throws from LeBron James and Anthony Davis), the Portland Trail Blazers walked away from Game 1 with a seven-point win over the Los Angeles Lakers. While the unexpected win doesn't mean that the Blazers are going to end up winning the series, that didn't stop Charles Barkley from immediately grabbing a broom and starting to sweep the floor of the Inside the NBA studio.

The Blazers are once again underdogs in Game 2, as the Lakers are favored by the same 6.5 points they were in Game 1. Portland is just 7-11 ATS on the season as more than five-point underdogs. They have gone 5-2 ATS in their past seven such games, however, and our models like them to better that record this evening.

Portland will once again be without Zach Collins due to his ankle injury, but they were able to stomach his absence in Game 1. They will again have Jusuf Nurkic, however, whose presence is of the utmost importance to the team. The Blazers were just 12-20 ATS as underdogs without the Bosnian Beast this season. In an admittedly small sample, they are 2-0-1 ATS with him this year; dating back to last season, the team is on a 6-1-1 ATS stretch as underdogs when he takes the court.

The Lakers are 1-4 ATS in their past five games after dropping a game in which they were more than five-point favorites (say that 10 times fast). Their outside shooting has been abhorrent in the bubble. They are coming off a 5-for-32 "effort" from downtown, the third time this season they've made five or fewer threes on 30-plus attempts, the most of any team in the league this season. They are now shooting 28.7% from deep in the bubble; the Atlanta Hawks were the worst-shooting deep team in the regular season with a 33.3% mark.

Our models do project the Lakers to pull out the win in Game 2 but by just 4.3 points. We give the Blazers a 57.3% chance of covering and mark the bet as a two-star play.