Turner Sports is giving NBA fans another great doubleheader on Thursday night: Phoenix vs. Boston and Dallas vs. Oklahoma City. Those are two first-place teams facing two other teams that could be NBA finalists if they take a sharp turn for the better over the season’s final month.

The Suns are in Boston on Thursday as they continue a four-game road trip that has been The Kevin Durant show. The Mavs are heading to Oklahoma City after winning four in a row behind the 1-2 punch of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

We are now in the homestretch of the NBA regular season with just one game separating the top three teams in the East and 1½ games separating teams No. 5 through 8 in the West.

There are at least a half-dozen teams with legitimate championship aspirations, and if the Lakers and Warriors can finish superstrong, that number grows to eight. The NBA will take a back seat to the NCAA Tournament over the next three weeks, but these games still have a ton of meaning, and teams that take them seriously will see their futures odds drop like a sinking stone.

Here's an example of how much fortunes could change: The Philadelphia 76ers are +3000 as they play without Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey, yet both are expected back for the stretch run and the postseason.

Remember, NBA championships are won in April, not June. Need we remind you of what Miami did last season as a No. 8 seed?

So, with that thought in mind, let’s make our Thursday night picks based upon which teams need the win more.

NBA Player Props Today for Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Kevin Durant, 35+ points

Kevin Durant has scored 37, 45, 37, and 37 points over his last four games, but he has not landed on the MVP futures odds line. Nevertheless, he is what he is, and he is carrying the Suns while they wait out Devin Booker’s ankle injury. Durant will be defended by Boston’s Jayson Tatum on Thursday, and that is the one matchup to keep an extra strong eye on. He scored 45 points against the Celtics last Saturday, so a matchup against Tatum does not figure to deter him much.

The Pick: Kevin Durant to score at least 35 points (+375)

Fred VanVleet, double-double

With Houston’s Alperen Sengun out for the season, his scoring and passing load will have to be carried by someone else. Fortunately, the Rockets have an experienced point guard who can change on the fly to move the team from a point-center offense to a point guard offense. Fred VanVleet played a team-high 39 minutes vs. San Antonio on Tuesday, and he has reached double-figure assist totals four times in eight games. At this enticing price, we like the chances of this wager hitting much more than we would if Sengun were active.

The Pick: Fran VanVleet to double-double (+175)

Giannis Antetokounmpo, 40+ points 

Both Philadelphia and Milwaukee are coming off dud games. The Sixers were again offensively challenged in a loss to the Knicks, and the Bucks fell by 35 points at Sacramento. The one constant for Milwaukee in that loss was Giannis Antetokounmpo, who scored 30 points for the third straight game and the fourth time in five nights. With Philly down so many plyers, we will take a leap of faith that he can reach 40.

The Pick: Giannis Antetokounmpo to score at least 40 points (+240)

Josh Hart, triple-double (+1800)

New York’s Josh Hart had a triple-double against Philadelphia on Tuesday, playing 39 minutes. The Villanova product has had two of these this month after having two others over the first 4½ months of the season. In other words, he is peaking at the proper time. Hart was a +3000 proposition to get a triple-double two nights ago, but that probability has now dropped to +1800 because the oddsmakers are adjusting. We also expect Portland center DeAndre Ayton to have another big game, but he is not on the Betway board. There are no throwaway games in Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau’s world, and New York is still missing a couple of key players.

The Pick: Josh Hart to have a triple-double (+1800)

Odds are subject to change*

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