NBA Predictions and Best Bets – March 18, 2021

| March 18, 2021 5:15 am PDT

The NBA has been popping lately, with things escalating in a wild 10-game slate yesterday.

Bettors can take a break of sorts on Thursday, with a light six-game schedule on the horizon.

Take a look at who is in action on March 18th.

  • Utah Jazz vs. Washington Wizards
  • Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Atlanta Hawks
  • Orlando Magic vs. New York Knicks
  • Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Phoenix Suns
  • New Orleans Pelicans vs. Portland Trail Blazers
  • Charlotte Hornets vs. Los Angeles Lakers

This is a fun slate, by the looks of it, but it’s quite possible it isn’t very competitive. Some bad defenses and fast offenses are in action, but just one game features two teams with winning records.

Definitely be wary of potential blowouts here, and maybe use the smaller slate to scale things back a bit.

If you bet a little less on a slate like this, that just means you need to be selective. I’ll help you figure out the best plays in Thursday’s NBA predictions and top betting picks.

Utah Jazz vs. Washington Wizards Predictions

  • Jazz to beat Wizards
  • Predicted total: 225-230

Utah’s standing as the best team in the league is tenuous. They have slipped of late, going just 5-5 over their last 10 games.

One of their recent losses was to the Warriors, which wasted an amazing 28-rebound effort from Rudy Gobert.

While the going has been tougher than expected lately, Utah is still 29-10 and owns the best mark in The Association.

The Jazz are also the clear favorite against a Washington team that doesn’t defend. The Wizards were at one point turning their season around, but lately they can’t buy wins.

I doubt they get one against a superior Jazz squad on Thursday. I love Utah, but the Over could linger as a fine secondary bet. The Over is 21-17 in Wizards games, after all.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Atlanta Hawks Predictions

  • Hawks to beat Thunder
  • Predicted total: 220-225

OKC can put a feather in their cap, as they somehow managed to beat the Grizzlies despite being extremely short handed recently.

The lack of bodies caught up to them in their recent loss, but they also may have unearthed a gem with a blow-up game from Moses Brown.

OKC is somewhat sneaky here, especially with the Hawks a little banged up these days. That said, Atlanta is at home, and they’re in some kind of groove thanks to a six-game winning streak.

Betting against the Hawks in this spot feels a bit silly, but the Over should be viable.

Orlando Magic vs. New York Knicks Predictions

  • Knicks to beat Magic
  • Predicted total: 210-215

I’ll gladly go the other way and hammer the Under in this battle between the Magic and Knicks.

New York has been the better team on the year, but they’ve dropped two in a row, and are just 5-5 over their last 10 games. They’re clinging to the 8th seed in the east, but it’s not by much.

The Knicks would love to get guards Derrick Rose and Elfrid Payton back, but at least Immanuel Quickley has played well.

Orlando would normally look at this as a nice spot to get a win. Unfortunately, they’ve fallen on hard times with a slew of injuries derailing their season.

The Magic have lost eight in a row, and are just 8-13 at the Amway Center. I don’t have a lot of confidence in the Magic, so I’d go Knicks across the board, as well as the Under in a slow-paced game.

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Phoenix Suns Predictions

  • Suns to beat Timberwolves
  • Predicted total: 220-225

The T’Wolves and Suns are polar opposites in terms of how they play. Phoenix is slow and plays defense. Minnesota is a top-three team when it comes to pace, and is a bottom-five defense.

That is probably all you need to know.

Phoenix is still looking to take over the top seed in the Western Conference, and they’re now just 2.5 games behind the Jazz. Letting up here would be pretty discouraging, and I don’t see it happening.

The Suns are the better team, and they’re also 13-7 at home. They’ve also answered the call as a favorite this season, going 20-10 ATS when favored.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Portland Trail Blazers Predictions

  • Blazers to beat Pelicans
  • Predicted total: 230-235

After two potentially boring games, fans and bettors alike should get excited for a rematch between the Pelicans and Blazers.

I’m Team Portland all the way here, as the Pels have to be quite bummed after blowing a winnable game against these Blazers just two days ago.

Damian Lillard of course went nuclear in the win, too.

I would imagine the Blazers come in a bit more focused this time around, and neither of these teams will suddenly be good defensively.

I like the Blazers and the Over in this one.

Charlotte Hornets vs. Los Angeles Lakers Predictions

  • Lakers to beat Hornets
  • Predicted total: 220-225

This is another contrast of styles, but I expect LaMelo Ball’s flashy play to force the Lakers to open things up a bit.

L.A. has rebounded nicely from a rough patch, as they’ve won three straight, and are right up there in the conversation for the #1 seed in the west again.

The Lakers need to be borderline perfect to get there, however, as big man Anthony Davis is on the shelf for a few more weeks (at least).

This is obviously a spot where LeBron James should be able to wreck, so there’s little reason to go against the Lakers. That said, L.A. have been pedestrian (18-18) against the spread when favored this season.

Charlotte, for what it’s worth, is also on fire. They are now fully healthy, too, and have won four straight (and seven of their last 10). The Hornets have climbed all the way to the fifth spot in the east.

L.A. wins, but the Hornets should keep it interesting and push for the Over.

Best NBA Bets for Thursday, March 18th

  • Timberwolves vs. Suns Over 228 (-110)
  • Blazers (-2) -105
  • Hornets (+8) -105

The pricing for the Suns isn’t very appealing. I like them across the board, but what makes more sense is Minnesota’s lack of defense (and pace) gets Phoenix to run a bit more.

Phoenix still wins and perhaps they cover, but I think we get enough points to get to the Over.

I’ve already detailed my love for the Blazers. They won the last meeting with the Pels, and New Orleans can’t get out of their own way usually. Look for a repeat.

The Lakers should beat the Hornets, but let’s not forget they don’t have one of their best players these days. Charlotte is also playing very well right now. Getting the Hornets at +8 feels like a massive steal.

Like these bets, or want to make others? Just make sure you’re using the best NBA betting apps available.

Noah Davis
Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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