We get one game and one game only tonight on TNT, and it is taking place in Memphis at the Fed Ex Forum, where the Grizzlies have won only six games.

One of those, however, came in their last game when the Rockets came in “looking like the softest team in the league,” according to coach Ime Udoka. They watched Memphis end its nine-game losing streak behind big performances from Luke Kennard, Lamar Stevens and GG Jackson, who are household names only in their own household.

Tonight’s three game NBA slate -- Golden State at Utah and Minnesota at Portland are the late games – offers our last opportunity to wager on meaningful NBA games until next week. Of course, the All-Star game offers plenty of wagering opportunities, too, but that game is always a crapshoot when it comes to predicting who among the best of the best will take over the game the same way Jayson Tatum did last year when he scored a record 55 points.

Tonight’s three games are important to all of the visiting teams and rather meaningless for all of the home teams. Only the Jazz have faint playoff hopes, but they went on a selling spree at the trade deadline and have lost six of eight, including their last three. The game lines are Bucks – 11.5, Warriors – 1.5 (because they are on the second night of a back-to-back) and Timberwolves – 9.5. Our operating thought today is that all the visitors need to go into the All-Star break on a positive note, because all are in the mix for postseason seeding and cannot afford to sacrifice gimme games. What bears watching is who may or may not play, who is hot and who is not, and who each visiting coach needs to motivate to overachieve.

We are making a leap of faith that none of the visiting players will yet be in vacation mode, which is a risky proposition because everyone in the NBA who is not headed to Indianapolis this weekend is headed somewhere far, far away from a basketball court. But these guys are professionals, and some of them need to step up their games for the final third of the season or else they will be like the rest of us, watching the second round of the playoffs, the conference finals and the NBA Finals on TV.

NBA Player Props for Thursday, February 15, 2024

Malik Beasley (MIL) to score 20+ points

Jaren Jackson has scored at least 20 points in eight straight games, so we should expect that number to increase to nine. That brings us to Beasley, who is coming off a 16-point outing in an ugly loss to Miami. Beasley did score 21 three games ago against Charlotte and 22 against Phoenix five games ago. Beasley had a 30-point game against Toronto earlier this season, and Rivers needs him to get his 3-point mojo back in order for the Bucks to be able to win the East. That leads us to believe he will have several plays run for him tonight.

The Pick: Malik Beasley to both score at least 20 points (+550)

Lauri Markkanen (UTA) and Stephen Curry (GSW) Points - Player Specials 

Jazz forward Lauri Markkanen, last year’s Most Improved Player, has scored only 16 and 19 points in his last two games after scoring 20 or more in four straight. In January, he had at least 20 in eight straight games, and we need to go with the assumption that 20 is going to be a given, and 30 is well within his mojo range. He has not gone three straight games without reaching 20 all season long, and we are taking a leap of faith that he has a 30-spot in him tonight. We certainly know Steph Curry can get there. He had 41 last night.

The Pick: Lauri Markannen and Steph Curry to each score at least 30 points (+800)

Anfernee Simons (POR) to score 30+ points

We have to operate under the assumption that Edwards will be playing despite the “questionable” tag, as Minnesota is clinging to a one-game lead over Oklahoma City atop the Western Conference standings. and the Timberwolves need to treat every game like a playoff game in order to insure homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. With the Blazers, the only assumption that makes sense is that Simons will have a sore elbow from shooting so much, and Ayton will do what he usually does – produce numbers but not necessarily wins. No combo bet of those three players is available, so…

The Pick: Simons to score at least 30 points (+450)

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