Fox Sports The Gambler

Your Friday Five for Feb. 19, 2021

Giannis Antetokounmpo dribbling a basketball, wearing the green Milwaukee Bucks uniform in front of a crowd from 2019.

Blog Record: 17-11

We’re going to start this post off a little differently and talk about something very controversial: weather. Is it just me, or has this been the worst winter in terms of snow in a long time? Call me Ebenezer Scrooge if you must, but I really hate the snow and cold weather. I am honestly frustrated with my ancestors for not establishing our family somewhere warm like California or Florida. The best time of year is when I can be sitting on the beach down at the Jersey Shore at around 6 p.m. with a few adult beverages sitting in a cooler beside me. My least favorite time of the year is when I can’t go outside without having eight layers of clothes on, I spend half the day shoveling, and being scared every time I take my 2004 Mercury Sable out for a drive, that it will be its last.

Point of the story: I can’t stand this weather and can’t wait for Memorial Day Weekend. The only thing getting me there is the fact that I can keep helping you get winners from our blog on a regular basis, and that warms my heart up enough to melt the ice away … figuratively.

Well, thanks for bearing with me for my rant, here’s your Friday Five:

NBA: Thunder at Bucks (-10.5) – 8 P.M. ET

The Bucks have lost five straight games coming into this matchup. That is not just ATS, they have outright lost five straight games and are now 16-13 overall. This Thunder team was one of those five games they lost, and as a 12-point underdog, the Thunder won the game outright.

I was trying to wrap my head around why such a large spread when the Bucks have been playing poorly as of late, and after some digging, I found it. Yes, the Bucks have been struggling as of late, but we all know they will be a top-four seed in the East minimum at the regular season’s end, so I believe a turnaround is coming.

But then my next question was around can they cover such a high spread, and that’s where I remembered a great truth: Milwaukee murders mediocre teams. This season, they have been 10-point or more favorites 12 times. They are 8-4 ATS in those contests. I believe OKC is playing better than they really are, which isn’t saying much since they are 11-17.

Milwaukee bounces back here in a big way, lay the 10.5 with the Bucks.

NBA: Suns (-3.5) at Pelicans – 8 P.M. ET

I understand Zion Williamson is a very good player right now, and is showing signs of becoming a great player. It seems the NBA has chosen and emphasized him as the next Lebron more than others who had some of that press in the past (think Wiggins and Simmons). That being said, that doesn’t mean that time is here yet. The Pelicans have lost 4 of their last 5 both straight up and ATS. People love to bet on Zion, and I think that is reflected in the spread here.

On the other side, Phoenix is looking like last year’s bubble sensation was not a fluke. This team can play and is currently 5th in a stacked Western Conference. They are also 8-2 in their last 10 ATS. The Suns are a much better team than the Pelicans and I expect it to show tonight.

Lay the 3.5 points with the Suns.

But wait, there’s more! I’m not quite done with this Phoenix vs New Orleans matchup that I know we have all had circled on our calendars for months now. Neither team has been playing well defensively coming into this game. The Suns have gone over in 4 of their last 5 and the Pelicans have gone over in six straight.

I am expecting both of these teams to take advantage of the other’s defensive miscues as of late.

Also take the over 231 points, and let’s hope we can get a same game parlay hit!

So, yes, that’s two picks for the price of one!

NBA: Bulls at 76ers – 7:30 P.M. ET ESPN, NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Sixers finally ended that three-game skid on Wednesday with a win over the depleted Rockets. That game marked the beginning of a easier stretch of game of the team as they now play the Bulls, then two against Toronto, the Mavericks, and the Cavaliers. All of those teams are currently below the .500 mark.

As a Sixers fan, I’m excited the team has a chance to get on a hot streak before the second half of the season gets to us. But, that does not mean I like the Sixers tonight. We still have some injury questions and the current line sits at eight points which is more than I’m willing to lay (as they’ve also lost 4 straight ATS).

Chicago will be without Lauri Markkanen, as they have been since earlier this month, who is their second-best scorer. This will allow Philly to put extra emphasis on containing Zach LaVine and I just don’t know if the other pieces around him will be able to pick up the slack.

I see this game as a get-right moment for the 76ers defensively, and that’s why I like the Under. The last 4 games for Philly have gone over the total, and as we said, they’ve lost 3 of those 4 games. I’m expecting Doc to have an emphasis on the defensive side of the ball tonight, and also assume Zumoff will be saying “Locking all windows and doors” several times over the course of the evening.

I also like the sixers to win the game, but that’s not the play.

Take the under 228.5.

NBA: Warriors at Magic (+4) – 7 P.M. ET

My last pick of the night actually has the earliest tip-off when Golden State heads east to take on Orlando. The Magic have been a disappointment this year at 11-18, despite making the playoffs last year. Even so, the team has started to figure it out recently, winning two of their last three, and covering three of their last four.

As home underdogs this season, the Magic are 3-6 ATS. That stat makes me a little weary, but I do expect some regression towards the mean here.

The Warriors have had a great bounce-back year, but are coming in potentially shorthanded into this game. Draymond Green is questionable and rookie standout Jameis Wiseman has been ruled out with a wrist injury. Orlando’s best quality is their big man play between Nick Vucevic and Aaron Gordon, and with both those pieces potentially missing for the Warriors, I expect some … wait for it … Magic to happen.

Jack Black, with puffy hair and a moustache,  smiling

Take the 4 points and ride with Orlando.

I would promise to have fewer bad jokes in the future, but in reality they are only getting started. My only hope is that our winning ways bring you back even though you must deal with poorly written dad jokes. Unfortunately for you, that is a risk I’m willing to take.

Let’s start the weekend off right with some winners!

You can follow Tim O’Keefe on Twitter (@TOKeefe1992) and e-mail him at

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