NBA Betting Guide: Thursday 9/3/20

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.

Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors

Under 216.0: 2-Star Rating out of 5

The second-round matchup between the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors has been nothing short of a lesson in defense.

The Celtics have imposed their will on the defending NBA champions, holding them fewer than 100 points in each of the first two games of the series -- just the third time this season the Raptors have been held under 100 points in consecutive games. The Raptors have hit just 38.5% of their shots and 26.2% from beyond the arc in the series. That's well below their regular season averages of 45.8% and 37.4%, respectively, the latter being the fifth-best mark in the league.

The under has hit easily in the first two games of the series with the teams putting up an average of just 203.5 points. The low-scoring affairs should come as little surprise, however, as the Raptors and Celtics finished the regular season with the second- and fourth-best defensive ratings in the league. They ended the season as the top two teams in lowest three-point percentage allowed, and they also held opponents to the second- and third-fewest points in the paint.

Boston lost Gordon Hayward in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, and he'll continue to be out for some time with an ankle injury. Notably, the team's defense improves when he's off the court. The team has allowed 42.0% shooting from the field and 31.9% from deep without him, compared to 44.5% and 34.2%, respectively, with him. They've given up just 101.4 points when he hasn't played, 7.8 fewer than when he has. The under has gone 16-8-1 when Hayward has missed time; it's just 23-28-2 when he's on the hardwood.

The under is now 11-6-1 in this year's playoffs when the total has been set at fewer than 220.0 points. The under is 9-2 this season when the Celtics have been underdogs in a game with a total under 220.0.

numberFire's models project the Eastern Conference rivals to combine for just 210.8 points tonight. We give the under a 59.4% chance of hitting and mark the bet as a two-star play.

Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Clippers

Nuggets +9.0: 4-Star Rating out of 5

The Denver Nuggets aren't going to have had much rest when they take the court tonight against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Nuggets just closed out their first-round series against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday, while the Clippers took care of business on Sunday, seemingly giving them an advantage. It's not as great of an edge as it may first seem, however.

Teams with more than two days of rest have gone just 22-21 straight up and 20-22-1 against the spread (ATS) this season against opponents with one day of rest. The Nuggets have gone 4-3 ATS as underdogs when playing on less rest than their opponents. The Clippers are just 8-11 ATS when playing on more rest than their opponents, going 1-4 ATS in their past five such contests.

Denver has gone 7-3 ATS this season following games in which they scored fewer than 100 points. They are 5-2 ATS as the "away" team in the bubble, while the Clippers are 3-4 ATS as a "home" team.

Gary Harris came back into the Nuggets' rotation in Game 6 against the Jazz following a hip injury. The team's defense has been shockingly better this season with him on the court. When Harris hasn't played, the team has allowed 48.7% shooting from the field, 42.6% from deep, and 118.5 points per game. Those numbers drop precipitously to 45.6%, 33.8%, and 106.1 points when he has played.

With Harris back in the mix, our models have the Nuggets holding the Clippers to 111.0 points, 5.0 below their implied total. While it's not projected to be enough to get the win, we give the Nuggets a 68.0% chance of covering the 9.0-point spread. We mark the bet as a strong four-star play.