It’s one of the quieter Tuesdays of the 2018-19 NBA season this week with just three games on the schedule – it’s sandwiched between very busy nights Monday and Wednesday.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
The schedule opens with a rather meaningless game between the Orlando Magic and Knicks in New York as both teams are likely headed for the draft lottery again. This could be the worst Knicks team ever and is on pace to be, but that’s fine it just means a potentially better chance of landing the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft and taking Duke’s Zion Williamson.
Orlando is still in the playoff hunt in the East, only because the bottom of the conference is terrible, but it would be a moderate upset should the Magic make it for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
Orlando routed the Knicks twice in the span of a week back in mid-November, has won its past four trips to Madison Square Garden and covered all of them. The Magic are 6.5-point favorites for this one.
The TNT doubleheader opens with a terrific matchup of Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors in what could well be an Eastern Conference playoff preview. Toronto is going to finish first or second in the East, while Boston is going to end up third, fourth or fifth. Thus, the clubs couldn’t meet before the conference semifinals.
Two of this summer’s biggest free agents are on display in the Celtics’ Kyrie Irving and the Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard – assuming both play. Many experts believe both All-Stars will head elsewhere come July, perhaps Irving to the Knicks (he’s from New Jersey) and Leonard to the Clippers (he’s from the Los Angeles area).
The teams split two early-season meetings, each winning at home. Leonard is averaging 31.7 points and 9.6 rebounds in the two, and Irving 30.3 points and 11.7 assists. Boston has failed to cover its past seven in Toronto, which sits as a 4-point favorite.
Finally, the TNT nightcap features the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Denver Nuggets. It’s likely those clubs finish second and third in the Western Conference standings in whichever order, meaning they would meet in the conference semifinals if form held in the first round.
Thunder-Nuggets features the league’s two triple-double leaders this season in OKC’s Russell Westbrook, who has 24 and is averaging another triple-double, and Denver’s Nikola Jokic, who has 12. The Nuggets lead the season series 2-0, holding the Thunder to exactly 98 points in each. Both were back in the 2018 portion of the schedule. The underdog has covered eight in a row in the series. That’s OKC (+3.5) for Tuesday.