Taking advantage of the Suns’ situation for an NBA wager: Best Bet for Feb. 24

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Phoenix Suns' Chris Paul, right, gets congratulations from Kevin Durant, left, and Devin Booker, middle, during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023, in Phoenix. The Clippers won 116-107. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

Each day, one of our experts will offer up a best bet (or two or three) that mobile sportsbooks are offering. It might be a traditional spread bet, a player prop or one of the various odds boosts that books offer.

Here is our best bet for Friday, Feb. 24:

TOP PLAY

The play: NBA, Suns -6½ over Thunder

The odds: -114

The book: FanDuel Sportsbook

Time/TV: 10 p.m. (ESPN)

Our take: The Phoenix Suns made the splash of the NBA trade deadline, acquiring Kevin Durant and instantly becoming the Western Conference favorite (and just second on the NBA title odds board, behind the Boston Celtics).

Two caveats: (1) Durant hasn’t played yet because of a lingering knee injury — he’s expected to make his Phoenix debut within the next week, but not tonight. (2) Because of a slow start and another notable injury to Devin Booker, the Suns sit only fifth in the Western Conference standings and are just two games away from falling into the play-in mix.

All of that means every game will be important down the stretch, as the Suns battle to get home-court advantage at least in the first round, and perhaps try to avoid the Denver Nuggets until the Western Conference finals. This one is especially important, considering the Suns’ next game is at Milwaukee on Sunday, an expected loss if Durant isn’t back yet.

On the other side, we have Oklahoma City, a young team showing it’s almost ready to make a playoff push of its own. Almost. The Thunder dropped an overtime game in Utah on Thursday night and is still on the outside looking in on the playoff picture. Oh, and speaking of that game in Utah, here are the minutes played (at high altitude) in that overtime game before a back-to-back tonight: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 41, Josh Giddey 38, Jalen Williams 38, Luguentz Dort 36. It’s possible that some of those starters even get the night off tonight, and even if they don’t, it’s going to be hard to keep up with motivated Phoenix.

HOW WE’VE FARED

Thursday’s best bets

XFL: Battlehawks +4 over Sea Dragons (WON)

NBA: Pelicans +6 over Raptors (WON)

Thursday’s record: 2-0

Total for the week: 4-3, 1 PGA bet pending

Total for February: 20-23, 1 pending

Total for 2023: 45-57, 1 pending

NOTE: If a line or odds are minus, it considers the juice one must lay to place the bet. Ex: Team A is -160 on the money line, one would have to bet $160 to win $100 (or $16 to win $10). OR Team B is a 5-point favorite at -110, one would have to bet $110 to win $100 (or $11 to win $10.)

Conversely, on positive lines, if Team C is +140 on the money line, $100 would bring in $140 (or $10 to win $14).

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