Harden looms over Thursday night NBA betting slate


Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com

The NBA on TNT doubleheader Thursday this week was to open with two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference facing off when the Miami Heat visit the Philadelphia 76ers in a rematch. The two played the first of their “baseball” series Tuesday in Philly and the Sixers won 137-134 in overtime.


The Heat and Sixers are both good enough as is to reach the NBA Finals, and what else do they have in common? Both are on the short list of teams where Houston Rockets star James Harden would like to be traded, and a deal could be imminent.

There was no early line for Thursday’s game – Philly will be favored – because the Heat were down eight players in COVID protocols Tuesday, including their two best in Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, and the 76ers were down a handful as well. Welcome to the NBA in a pandemic. The Heat have covered six of the past 10 in the series including Tuesday.

Because Thursday’s game could feature mostly lesser-known players, TNT has switched its opening telecast to Rockets at San Antonio Spurs, and it’s entirely possible that Harden is traded by then. He made some very derogatory comments about the franchise following Tuesday’s loss to the Lakers, and it could have been the last straw. Teammate John Wall already has been ruled out Thursday with knee soreness. San Antonio has covered six of the past 10 at home in the series.

The second TNT game features the Golden State Warriors at Denver Nuggets, their first meeting of the season. Both teams have been very hit-or-miss in the early going, but it features two of the most explosive guards in the league in the Warriors’ Steph Curry and the Nuggets’ Jamal Murray.

Without Klay Thompson (out for season), Golden State generally doesn’t win this year unless Curry scores at least 30 points. Murray has a much deeper cast of characters around him and isn’t even the best player on his own team – that would be All-NBA center Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets opened as 6-point betting favorites but are 0-5 ATS in the past five in the series.

One of the most disappointing teams of the season has been the Toronto Raptors, but remember they are playing every single game outside of Canada due to COVID-19 restrictions at the border. The Raptors are 1-2 in their temporary home of Tampa, Florida, and host the Charlotte Hornets, who will be playing the second of a back-to-back. That’s the first game of a “baseball” series as the two play again in Tampa on Saturday. The Raptors opened as 7-point betting favorites but are 1-4 ATS in the past five in the series.