The Golden State Warriors (54-20) hope to avoid losing any more ground to the Houston Rockets as they host the Milwaukee Bucks (39-35) on Thursday as betting favorites at the sportsbooks.
The Warriors trail the Rockets by 6.5 games in the race for the Western Conference's top seed, while the Bucks are safe with a five-game lead for the last spot in the East but would like to improve their standing.
NBA betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 106.1-104.0, Warriors (NBA picks on every game)
Why the Bucks can cover the spread
Milwaukee has lost eight of the past nine meetings with Golden State straight up but has managed to stay competitive and cover the spread in five of the last eight, according to the OddsShark NBA Database.
The Bucks also have one outright victory during that stretch, blowing out the Warriors 108-95 as 9.5-point home underdogs back on December 12, 2015.
They are just a half-game back of the Miami Heat for the seventh spot in the East and sit two games behind the Washington Wizards for sixth.
Why the Warriors can cover the spread
Durant has missed the last six games for the Warriors, who have gone a disappointing 2-4 SU and ATS due to a depleted roster that also saw Green miss the last three games.
Leading scorer Stephen Curry returned for one of those games after missing time with an ankle injury, and they won 106-94 over the Atlanta Hawks as 11.5-point home favorites.
Curry scored 29 points in 25 minutes before departing again with a knee injury. Golden State should see a similar improved offensive performance with Durant back on the court.
Smart betting pick
The Warriors may not catch the Rockets for the best record in the West, but they also don't want to be playing their worst heading into the postseason.
With just eight games remaining on the schedule, they want to be as healthy as possible and get back to playing the way they are accustomed.
The previous two meetings were both routs by Golden State and decided by more than 10 points, so expect a similar result and cover.
NBA betting trends
Milwaukee is 4-12 ATS in its last 16 games.
The total has gone over in eight of Milwaukee's last nine games.
Golden State is 3-10 ATS in its last 13 games.
All NBA odds and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report's official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week's top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.