The Thursday night schedule in the NFL has finished for 2018, so it’s really time for bettors to shift their focus that night to the NBA on TNT doubleheader. That network gets the entire schedule to itself this week with just the two games.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
The opener features the Houston Rockets at the Miami Heat, with the Rockets set as 3-point betting favorites. It’s the second of a back-to-back for the Rockets as they hosted Washington on Wednesday and the team’s third game in four nights so it could be running on fumes. It’s rare that superstar James Harden doesn’t play both ends of a back-to-back, so barring injury Wednesday he should be in there. However, veteran point guard Chris Paul does get some games off occasionally in a back-to-back.
The Rockets must be the streakiest team in the NBA. They entered Wednesday on a four-game winning streak to get back over .500. The streaks prior to that: three straight losses, back-to-back wins, a four-game losing streak, a five-game winning streak, a two-game skid, a three-game win streak and a four-game skid.
Miami will have a huge rest advantage, not playing since Sunday in New Orleans to conclude a season-high six-game road trip at 4-2. Houston swept the season series last year but is still just 6-17 in its past 23 trips to south Florida. The Heat have just ruled out starting point guard Goran Dragic for 6-8 weeks, though. They have covered seven of their past eight against the Western Conference.
The nightcap features the Dallas Mavericks visiting the Los Angeles Clippers, with Los Angeles a 3-point betting favorite. Assuming good health, it should be the first-ever matchup of promising rookies in the Mavericks’ Luka Doncic (No. 3 overall pick) and the Clippers’ Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (No. 11 overall). Neither was actually taken by his current team but part of an immediate trade.
Los Angeles was a pleasant early surprise in the West but has lost four straight and seven of nine. The Clippers remain without the reigning Sixth Man of the Year in Lou Williams, who has missed the past four games with a hamstring injury and isn’t expected back Thursday.
Recent history says to back the Clippers because the home team has won the past six in the series (4-1-1 ATS). Dallas was a 3.5-point underdog at home on December 2 but won 114-110 behind 16 points and 23 rebounds from former long-time Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. Doncic missed the game due to injury. Williams had 21 off the bench for Los Angeles.