NBA Three at 3: Best Bets for Thursday, February 17

On Thursday, the NBA schedule features a smaller five-game slate, which is headlined by a meeting between the Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks on TNT. We'll have a play for you on that one and two other games in today's Three at 3, so keep reading for our best bets: 

1. Miami Heat at Charlotte Hornets - 7:00 p.m. ET

The Hornets have lost eight of their last nine games and now find themselves hosting a Heat team that has won five of its last six. For a Charlotte squad that is 23rd in the league in defensive rating — and is likely to get worse defensively with the arrival of Montrezl Harrell — this meeting with Miami could be a legitimate nightmare. The Heat move the ball as well as any team in the league and have the players they need to finish plays with points. Whether it's Jimmy Butler or Bam Adebayo finishing at the rim or guys like Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson hitting shots, this Heat team can score the basketball. Miami is also sixth in the league in defensive rating, meaning this team should have an answer for LaMelo Ball and this brilliant Charlotte offense. That just makes it really hard to believe in the Hornets finding a way to cover in this game, and it doesn't help the Hornets that the Heat are 18-4 against the spread when coming off a game that went Under the total this year. 

THE PICK: Heat -4.5

2. Dallas Mavericks at New Orleans Pelicans - 8:00 p.m. ET

The Mavericks are 14-6 against the spread when facing teams that allow opponents to shoot at least 46.0% from the floor this season, and they have won those games by an average of 10.8 points per game. Look for Luka Doncic to really pick apart a bad New Orleans defense in this one, even with the stellar Herb Jones defending him. Throughout his career, Doncic has proven that he is not bothered when facing elite perimeter defenders. And even if he does end up struggling with his shot, Doncic will still get to the paint and use the extra attention he draws to find his teammates for open shots. Dallas is also fifth in the league in defensive rating this season, so the team should be equipped to slow down a New Orleans offense that got better with the addition of CJ McCollum at the trade deadline. Keep an eye on Maxi Kleber in this game. The Mavericks deployed him as their Jimmy Butler stopper against the Heat last game, so you could see him on Brandon Ingram for stretches in this one. 

THE PICK: Mavericks -2.5

3. Philadelphia 76ers at Milwaukee Bucks - 8:30 p.m. ET

With Brook Lopez out for the Bucks indefinitely, Milwaukee is going to have a really hard time containing Joel Embiid. The Bucks do, however, match up extremely well at nearly every other position, and they should be especially dominant on the wing. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton should both be able to turn in some great performances for Milwaukee in this one, and then there's also the important two-way play of Jrue Holiday. With James Harden out for the Sixers, the team is going to be counting on Tyrese Maxey to play at a high level out of the backcourt. But with Holiday out there, it's hard to see that happening. Holiday is one of the true lockdown perimeter defenders in the NBA, so he should do a good job of taking Maxey out of this one. Holiday will also put a lot of rim pressure on Philadelphia on the other end of the floor. On top of that, the Sixers are just 8-19 against the spread when playing on the road against teams with winning percentages between 60.0% and 70.0%. Philadelphia has lost those games by an average of 8.1 points per game. 

THE PICK: Bucks -6

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Bucks guard Jrue Holiday
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Bucks guard Jrue Holiday could be in for a big game against the Sixers.
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