The marquee games every Thursday in the NBA regular season are usually part of the TNT doubleheader, and there are two good ones this week. However, we are going to begin with a look at the New York Knicks as 6-point underdogs against the Washington Wizards. Two bad teams, what’s the big deal?
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
Well, it’s a rare Thursday matinee (3pm ET) because it’s being played in London. The Knicks won’t have one of their better players because of that in Turkish center Enes Kanter. He has been a very outspoken critic of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Kanter says he fears he will be assassinated should he make the trip overseas – so he won’t.
Kanter can’t play defense worth a lick but is a double-double machine in points and rebounds so that weakens New York for this game. The Knicks are 0-2 against the Wizards this season, with Kanter averaging 15.5 points and 14.0 rebounds in those two contests. Washington has covered nine of the past 11 in this series.
Back in the USA, the first TNT game Thursday is the Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers in what could be an Eastern Conference playoff preview. They are two of the East’s Top 5 teams along with the Milwaukee Bucks, Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics – then there’s a huge drop-off. These two teams have split two meetings this season, each winning on the road.
Philly lost 113-101 in the most recent meeting despite 40 points and 21 rebounds from star Joel Embiid, the first Sixers player with at least 30 points and 20 rebounds in a game since Hall of Famer Charles Barkley on December 7, 1990. The 76ers didn’t have All-Star Jimmy Butler in either game; he hadn’t been acquired yet in the first and was injured in the second. Philly is 2-5 ATS in its past seven at Indiana and is set as a 3-point underdog.
The TNT nightcap features the Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City – sadly, no meeting of LeBron James vs. Russell Westbrook in a matchup of former MVPs. Westbrook will be on the court, while James is out again with his groin injury.
It’s the second meeting of the season, with OKC winning 107-100 in Los Angeles early this month with James out. Paul George led OKC with 37 points while being booed every time he touched the ball. George is a Los Angeles native who was expected to sign with the Lakers this past offseason in free agency but opted to re-sign with the Thunder. The Lakers are 4-10 ATS in the previous 14 meetings, and big 10-point underdogs for Thursday.