We’ve had some good NBA on TNT Thursday doubleheader matchups so far this NBA season, but this Thursday night largely features disappointing teams.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
The opener is the New York Knicks at the Boston Celtics. The NBA’s broadcast partners knew the Knicks were going to stink this year because the team lost franchise player Kristaps Porzingis to a torn ACL last February. Players generally need a full year to return to action and perhaps 18 months to get back to pre-injury form. Porzingis hasn’t played yet in 2018/19 and isn’t close to doing so.
To no surprise, then, the Knicks are one of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference. Probably not the worst thing for that franchise to stay terrible, get a very high 2019 draft pick and then start the climb back toward respectability.
Boston, meanwhile, was the preseason favorite to win the Eastern Conference with the return from injury of All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. The Celtics have been very shaky but are starting to put things together. Too much talent on that roster for it not to finish near the top of the East standings.
New York and Boston have split two meetings this season, each winning on the road. The Knicks’ was wire-to-wire in Beantown, 117-109. The Celtics are 13-point betting favorites at sportsbooks this time and have covered 10 of their past 14 Thursday games.
The TNT nightcap features Houston at Utah, with the Jazz as 2.5-point favorites. The Rockets led the NBA with 65 wins last regular season and reached the Western Conference Finals – which they might have won if not for a Chris Paul injury. Utah was a 48-win team that reached the second round of the playoffs, losing in five games to Houston.
Both are shockingly under .500 this year, but it seems only a matter of time, barring major injury, that both start the climb up the standings.
Utah won the first meeting 100-89 in Houston on October 24 – Paul didn’t play – after dropping all four regular-season meetings in 2017/18. It was Houston’s first sweep since 1981/82. The Jazz, though, haven’t won a four-game regular-season series against the Rockets since 2006/07. The road team has covered the past five meetings.
The third and final game on the Thursday schedule is Phoenix, the NBA’s worst team, at Portland. Suns star guard Devin Booker is hurt yet again, this time a hamstring injury. He’s not playing here. It’s the first meeting of the season between the teams; Portland is on a seven-game winning streak against Phoenix and will be a sizable favorite to make it eight.