Just four games on this Thursday’s NBA schedule and not one of them features a matchup of teams that would both currently qualify for the playoffs.
Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com
The first tip at 7pm ET looks like a mismatch as the terrible New York Knicks visit the Philadelphia 76ers, who are all but invincible at home at 27-2 and will be set as heavy favorites at sportsbooks. The Sixers, who like the Knicks will be playing the second of a back-to-back, look for the four-game season sweep but the first three were all close with the Knicks covering in each. Philly is currently without All-Star Ben Simmons due to lower-back problems that could put his season in jeopardy.
What’s the one thing these teams do have in common? Both could have new head coaches next season. New York almost surely will as it is currently operating under interim coach Mike Miller following the firing of David Fizdale in early December. While the Knicks have been better under Miller, it’s a long shot he gets the full-time job.
Philadelphia is going to make the playoffs, but Brett Brown is on the hot seat because the team’s record doesn’t match the level of talent on the roster. It likely will take a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals for Brown to return next season.
The TNT doubleheader tips off at 8pm ET with the Portland Trail Blazers at the Indiana Pacers, who are 9.5-point favorites. The Pacers should finish anywhere from fourth to sixth in the East but probably aren’t good enough to get past the conference semifinals.
Portland, 0-5 ATS in its past five games, is a huge disappointment sitting out of the current playoff picture, but Damian Lillard is more than capable of carrying the team past Memphis and into the final playoff spot. That’s if Lillard can get back in time. He hasn’t played since February 12 due a groin injury and won’t here. The Blazers beat the visiting Pacers 139-129 on January 26. Lillard was in the midst of a crazy-hot stretch then and had 50 points and 13 assists.
The TNT nightcap at 10:30pm ET is Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors in a mega-mismatch. The Dubs are on national television more than almost any other team this year thanks to all their success the past five seasons. There was just no way for the TV network honchos to know that the Warriors would be gutted by injuries in 2019-20 and become the NBA’s worst team. The Lakers, on top of the Western Conference and on a six-game winning streak, are -14.5 and 2-0 in the season series. Golden State has lost seven in a row at home.