Check out our picks for every game on the NBA’s first Thursday night slate of the 2020-21 season!
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On the heels of a hectic opening two-night slate, the NBA always likes to slow things down with a trio of Thursday primetime matchups to start the season. This year's troika of showdowns features the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks, the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks, and the Golden State Warriors and LA Clippers.
When the slate is this small yet brimming with potential, there's only one thing to do: Predict the outcome of every game! And with this latest batch of NBA betting picks 2021, we're here to tell you the Atlanta Hawks could shock the Dallas Mavericks.
First and foremost, though, let's take a look at all of the NBA betting odds for Thursday night, courtesy of BetOnline:
|Atlanta Hawks||-130||+110||Dallas Mavericks|
|Milwaukee Bucks||-125||+105||Miami Heat|
|Golden State Warriors||-150||+130||LA Clippers|
Get in the habit of double-checking all NBA odds before deciding on any of your NBA picks. These lines are always subject to last-minute shifts at the top online sportsbooks prior to the opening tip.
NBA Predictions for Mavs-Hawks, Heat-Bucks, Warriors-Clippers
Our first dose of Thursday night primetime NBA picks will begin with the matchup between the Hawks and the Mavericks because it shoulders the most intrigue.
Atlanta's Trae Young and Dallas' Luka Doncic are among the youngest and brightest stars in the league, and many think they're set to lead the next crop of title contenders. But which team is better positioned right now? We'll get into it.
After that, we will shift our focus to Heat-Bucks and Warriors-Clippers, two more dynamite battles just oozing with entertainment value.
Atlanta will Emphatically Take Down Dallas
Loads of analysts believe the Mavericks will have a dominant regular season. They have surrounded superstar Luka Doncic with plenty of shooting—more than he had last year when Dallas posted the highest offensive rating in NBA history. If Kristaps Porzingis, who is supposed to be Doncic's No. 2, finally has a healthy season, the ceiling on this team should be sky-high.
Still, we can't help but be skeptical. The Mavs hired Jason Kidd to be their head coach after they parted ways with Rick Carlisle. Since taking the reins, Kidd has talked a lot about limiting the number of threes the offense takes, moving Doncic off the ball, and getting Porzingis more looks in the post.
This is all bad news for Dallas. They aren't built to run their offense by committee. At the very least, it will take more than a couple of games for them to figure it out.
Meanwhile, Trae Young and the Hawks are working their way off an Eastern Conference Finals appearance in which they gave the reigning champion Bucks an actual fight. The defense should still have some cracks, but Trae has two legit co-stars in Clint Capela and John Collins, plus a bunch of up-and-coming wings.
Don't be surprised if the Hawks blow this moneyline out of the water. They're built to win this by double-digits.
OSB Prediction: Atlanta Hawks (-130)
Milwaukee will Send a Message to Miami
It will be tempting to pick the Heat. They are more well-rested than the Bucks, who just beat the Brooklyn Nets by 20-plus points on Tuesday night.
Milwaukee also continues to miss a bunch of key rotation players. Bobby Portis Jr., Rodney Hood, Semi Ojeleye, and Donte DiVincenzo all sat out the first game of the season. On top of that, star point guard Jrue Holiday left early in the contest against Brooklyn with a right heel contusion and did not return. The Bucks will be a much weaker team without him, particularly against a Miami defense that profiles as hellacious.
But don't count out the Bucks so soon. They have continuity on their side. Giannis Antetokounmpo looks like someone intent on winning MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season for a second time. The bench in Milwaukee is also deeper than advertised if recent performances from Pat Connaughton and Jordan Nwora are any indication.
Miami may still be uniquely built to hassle Milwaukee. The Heat can roll out Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, Bam Adebayo, and P.J. Tucker in the same lineup. All four are exhaustive defenders. But this is the team's first game with Lowry and Tucker, and the bench only stretches one or two proven players deep.
To be honest, we view the Heat as a team that may not be too committed to the regular season in general. They are assembled with the playoffs in mind. At the bare minimum, we think they'll need time to coalesce with Lowry in the fold.
OSB Prediction: Milwaukee Bucks (-125)
Golden State will Keep Rolling Against the Clippers
The Warriors sent a message with their season-opening win over the Los Angeles Lakers: We're back. And we're going to contend for the title.
We still have doubts about the latter message. Klay Thompson has yet to make his return, and one win is not a tell-all over the course of an 82-game season.
At the same time, Golden State plays one of the most aggressive styles of defense in existence and now has the firepower on offense to survive the minutes Stephen Curry is on the bench. This is a big deal—especially when they're going up against a Clippers squad that is without superstar Kawhi Leonard.
OSB Prediction: Golden State Warriors (-150)
Check out this list of the top online sportsbooks so you can decide which one to use for all of your NBA betting: