NBA predictions and best NBA bets tonight: Clippers vs. Celtics, Thunder vs. Pelicans picks against the spread for Thursday

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Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum is averaging 25.5 points and 7 rebounds on 47.8 shooting over his last 10 games. Photo credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

With just two games left before the NBA All-Star break, we’re down to just Thursday night to get in our best NBA bets in before the NBA regular season goes on hiatus. Let’s take a look at the NBA odds for both games, courtesy of FanDuel.

Clippers (-1.5, 226.5 over/under) at Celtics, Thursday at 8:10 p.m. ET (TV Channel: TNT)

It’s always tough to know what you’re going to get from the Los Angeles Clippers on a nightly basis considering all the load management.

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Head coach Doc Rivers and the Clippers’ front office have treated the regular season like a glorified NBA summer league, which is their right considering they’re sitting comfortably near the top of the Western Conference standings.

I would think with all the rest coming up for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George (the Clippers’ next game isn’t until Feb. 22) that they both will be free to play a full game in Boston.

Leonard will play in the NBA All-Star Game on Sunday, but I doubt that will be a heavy workload for him.

The Celtics and Clippers played a thrilling game on Nov. 20 where the Clippers won 107-104 in OT.

The Celtics have been playing their best basketball of the season, winners of 10 of their last 12 games.

There have been some difficult games in this stretch, including victories over the Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder.

Boston has also been elite at home, winning 22 of 27 games.

Let’s go with the Celtics with our best NBA bets Thursday, as they are outscoring their opponents during their strong 12-game stretch by 9.4 points.

I expect both teams to bring the defensive effort and for the final score to be similar to what we saw in this matchup in November, so let’s go under 226.5 total points as the rest of our NBA predictions for this game.

Clippers vs. Celtics predictions: Celtics (+1.5), under 226.5 total points

Thunder at Pelicans (-3, 233.5 over/under), Thursday at 8:10 p.m. ET (TV Channel: NBA League Pass)

It’s hard to gage the effort level with young teams the game before the NBA All-Star break. If anyone watched some of the Washington Wizards-New York Knicks game Wednesday evening, it would be a prime example of this.

Assuming both teams continue their strong play, we should be in for an exciting matchup. The Thunder are arguably the biggest positive surprise in the Western Conference with a strong 32-22 record.

There were discussions about the Thunder moving a veteran or two at the NBA trade deadline. Forward Danilo Gallinari was nearly moved to the Miami Heat, but Gallinari and the Heat could not agree on a contract extension and the deal fell apart.

Gallinari has been a steady contributor for the Thunder and should help them maintain their playoff seeding.  

Meanwhile, after a dismal start, the New Orleans Pelicans have won 16 of their last 24 games. Their offense has been superb in that span, averaging 120.5 points per game. The team has also gotten the debut of No. 1 overall NBA draft pick Zion Williamson.

Williamson has been extremely efficient so far, averaging 21 points and 7.7 rebounds per game on 57.6 percent shooting. Watching Williamson try to force his way into the post against a bruising center like Steven Adams should be fascinating Thursday night.

The Thunder have been strong on the road (15-10) as they have been in Oklahoma City so I’m taking them with the three points in New Orleans as part of my NBA predictions.

While the Pelicans have improved lately, their defense certainly hasn’t been good at any point this season.

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New Orleans is averaging 117.2 points per game allowed, worst in the entire Western Conference, so let’s take the Thunder as well as over 233.5 combined points with our best NBA bets Thursday. 

Each of the last three Pelicans games have been over a combined 233.5 total points.

Thunder vs. Pelicans predictions: Thunder (+3), over 233.5 total points

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