NBA Predictions and Top Picks – March 3, 2021

| March 2, 2021 3:51 pm PDT

Wednesday in the NBA is going to be pretty entertaining. There is a late-night battle between Damian Lillard and Stephen Curry, while LeBron James and the Lakers help close things out, as well.

Prior to those nightcaps, Joel Embiid and the 76ers host the Jazz, while James Harden heads back for a revenge game against Houston.

See everyone who is playing with a quick look at the NBA schedule for Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021.

  • Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Utah Jazz vs. Philadelphia 76ers
  • Detroit Pistons vs. Toronto Raptors
  • Brooklyn Nets vs. Houston Rockets
  • Chicago Bulls vs. New Orleans Pelicans
  • Charlotte Hornets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Atlanta Hawks vs. Orlando Magic
  • Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Dallas Mavericks
  • Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers
  • Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings

It’s a fully loaded slate, complete with compelling matchups, some really high totals, and some interesting narratives.

Harden’s return home is probably the one that takes the cake, but you also have the Hawks starting a new era following the firing of head coach Lloyd Pierce.

There is a lot to digest here. I’ll walk you through the madness as I push out my NBA predictions and picks for Wednesday night.

Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Predictions

  • Pacers to beat Cavaliers
  • Predicted total: 210-215

The Pacers and Cavs get us started off in Cleveland. The Cavaliers have won four in a row and are clearly starting to come together after the big trade for Jarrett Allen.

I like the momentum here, but Indy is the better team, and this serves as a “get right” spot for them.

The Pacers are going in the opposite direction with four losses, but I think they hit the brakes here and get a big road win.

Indy has the size to slow down Jarrett Allen inside, and they also have the guards to counter Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.

Utah Jazz vs. Philadelphia 76ers Predictions

  • 76ers to beat Jazz
  • Predicted total: 220-225

The Jazz finally lost again in their last game, yet they still sit atop the NBA at 27-8. They’ve been a bit more human on the road (12-6), though, and the Sixers are stout (15-3) at home.

I think that’s a problem for the Jazz, while Joel Embiid and the 76ers are undoubtedly going to get up to face the would-be best team in the NBA.

The only hiccup could be the availability of Tobias Harris (knee).

I like Philly regardless, but Harris returning would cement the Sixers as a great bet at home.

Detroit Pistons vs. Toronto Raptors Predictions

  • Raptors to beat Pistons
  • Predicted total: 215-220

The Raptors missed some time due to the league’s protocol, but this game with the Pistons is finally being played.

Toronto doesn’t have true “home” games this year, but I doubt that matters against the talent-starved Pistons.

Jerami Grant is the betting favorite (-185 at BetOnline) to win Most Improved Player of the Year, and the love is justified thanks to his 23.4 points per game.

Unfortunately, he hasn’t done enough to actually generate wins.

Detroit has dropped three straight and seven of their last 10 en route to a paltry 9-25 mark. 

Toronto, meanwhile, are 6-4 over their last 10, and they’re slowly climbing up the pedestrian Eastern Conference standings (just four teams are above .500).

This is the type of game a veteran squad like the Raptors has to win, and I suspect they will.

Brooklyn Nets vs. Houston Rockets Predictions

  • Nets to beat Rockets
  • Predicted total: 225-230

This is, without a doubt, one of the best NBA games to watch on Wednesday, as James Harden makes his return to his old stomping grounds.

These two teams haven’t faced yet this year, so it will be very interesting to see how the bad blood is sorted out. John Wall and James Harden could both go off in this one, but it’ll be tough to lean towards Houston.

The Rockets are utterly hopeless these days, having lost 12 games in a row. They figure to be major sellers heading into the NBA trade deadline, and I’d be shocked if they gutted out a win in this one.

Chicago Bulls vs. New Orleans Pelicans Predictions

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

One of the more explosive games of the night just might reside in New Orleans, where the second-worst defense in the NBA (Pelicans) hosts the Bulls.

Chicago isn’t great defensively, either, and this game features two dynamic scorers in Zach LaVine and Zion Williamson.

Something tells me we’re going to see a few highlight-reel dunks, too.

I think this one is a bit of a toss-up, but the Pels get the nod at home. The bet I’d really be seeking out is the Over, of course.

Charlotte Hornets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Predictions

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

Another game that projects to have all of the points and none of the defense is this showdown in Minnesota between the Timberwolves and Hornets.

Charlotte continues to play fast and loose, and neither of these teams is scary on defense.

Minnesota has lost eight straight and don’t seem very interested in winning, so logic points to the Hornets as the winner. They have more incentive to win, as they presently hold the 8th and final seed in the east.

LaMelo Ball is balling out, but keep an eye on Charlotte’s health. I’d imagine Gordon Hayward and Cody Zeller make it back for this one, but they’ve rested in the last two.

The Hornets look like a solid play, but as is the case with most volatile settings, the Over feels like the top pick.

Atlanta Hawks vs. Orlando Magic Predictions

  • Hawks to beat Magic
  • Predicted total: 215-220

The Hawks have been a major disappointment this year, so much so that it led to head coach Lloyd Pierce being shown the door.

Trae Young continues to score in bunches, though, and a mangled Hawks team can still put up points. It’s also quite possible the change of voice on the sidelines perks this team up a bit.

Atlanta is just 14-20 overall and 6-11 on the road, but the Magic are actually worse. Orlando has lost four straight, and they have very little beyond Nikola Vucevic.

Clint Capela is the great equalizer inside, so I give the edge to the visiting Hawks.

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Dallas Mavericks Predictions

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

The days of the Thunder being pesky and staging upsets may be over. OKC is 4-6 over their last 10 games, and they’re slowly slinking down the Western Conference standings.

Dallas is going the other way, as they’re finally above .500. They’ve won eight of their last 10 and are breathing down the neck of the Golden State Warriors for the last playoff spot in the west.

Luka Doncic is playing well, and this team is finally healthy. I’m not about to bet against them at home against the Thunder.

Golden State Warriors vs. Portland Trail Blazers Predictions

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

The Dubs may ultimately lose that final playoff spot when it’s all said and done, but Stephen Curry is on an MVP tear, and he won’t go out without a fight.

Golden State enters the night at a respectable 19-16, and if Curry shows up offensively, they’re always a decent bet.

Portland has slumped a bit after a 16-10 start (3-4 over their last seven), but Damian Lillard will keep them alive in most games.

Golden State gets the slight edge due to their elevated defensive efficiency (5th!?!), but the pace and offensive potential of this game still point to the Over.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings Predictions

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

The last game of the night favors the Lakers. It’s worth wondering if King James will finally rest after playing the Suns last night, but for now, bettors can expect him to suit up.

I don’t know if I’d bet against the Laker seven if LeBron James sits, though. L.A. has struggled with Anthony Davis on the shelf, but the Kings are 1-9 over their last 10, and this team plays zero defense.

Luka Walton is days away from being fired, as the top NBA betting sites list him as a +100 favorite to be the next head coach canned.

It’d only be fitting for his final game to come in a loss against the other team that fired him.

Best NBA Bets for Wednesday, March 3rd

  • Cavaliers (+6.5) -110
  • Bulls (+5) -110
  • Warriors (-1) -110

Despite the sizable slate, there really aren’t a ton of NBA bets that interest me. The game totals are a little high for my liking, but they’re understandably all attached to games that should be pretty explosive.

There aren’t any moneylines out yet, either, so for now, I’ll roll with ATS plays. For straight-up bets, just use my NBA predictions above.

That said, I love the Cavs and Bulls against the spread. Both teams are playing well these days, and they’re facing teams that are far from reliable. The spreads are thick enough to feel good about, too.

Golden State, as the tiniest of road favorites, is appealing, too. The total for that game is a bit ambitious, so I’ll just back the Dubs to get the win.

Hopefully, my NBA predictions and top betting picks treat you well. Good luck, and enjoy the games!

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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