All four teams participating in the final Thursday night regular-season doubleheader on TNT have punched their ticket to the playoffs and now it’s just a matter of seeding. New York and Chicago will tip things off in the Eastern Conference while Oklahoma City and Golden State go head-to-head in the Western nightcap. Both home teams are underdogs, so there could be some good value on the board.
New York Knicks @ Chicago Bulls
Odds: Knicks -4
The Knicks are the league’s hottest NBA betting team with 13 straight wins and Carmelo Anthony has been on fire as of late, but they’re still steady in second place in the conference behind Miami, and they’re trying to hold off Indiana as well. The Bulls are holding court in fifth place, three games behind Brooklyn heading into Wednesday’s games, but Atlanta and Boston are hot on their heels. The “Will Derrick Rose return” storyline hasn’t faded for the Bulls (as of right now, he won’t, but that could change), but Chicago has proven they can get on without their MVP.
Chicago has won four of the last five meetings between these two old rivals, and while this would seem to be a meeting of the Knicks’ high-powered offense and the Bulls’ shutdown defense, both teams have scored at least 101 points in each of the last two meetings (which both took place in New York). The Bulls’ defense should be better at home as they go for the season sweep against the Knicks, but New York is fresh off clinching the Atlantic Division title and they’re riding a wave of momentum. This should be a very intriguing game and if a few things shake out, it could be a first-round preview.
Pick: Bulls +4
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Golden State Warriors
Odds: Thunder -4
The Thunder are trying to chase down San Antonio for the top spot in the West, and as of Wednesday, they were only a half-game behind the Spurs. It’s difficult to believe, but OKC is actually flying under the radar for a second-place team; Kevin Durant’s amazing season is being overshadowed by Miami’s LeBron James (and you could argue Anthony), while the disappointing Los Angeles Lakers have been the biggest story in the West. Meanwhile, the sixth-place Warriors have been a pleasant surprise and they’ve shown us what we’ve known all along: a healthy Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut makes this a dangerous team. Curry has developed into one of the best point guards in the league, while Bogut has really shored up this team on the back end, where they needed help the most.
Oklahoma City has won four of the last five against the Warriors, who beat the Thunder at home in January. Like the opening game of this doubleheader, this could be a playoff preview if a few things happen, which puts a little something extra on this game. It should be a high-tempo game with matchups galore, and watching OKC’s Russell Westbrook go up against Curry at both ends of the floor could be the best sportsbook matchup you see all week.
Pick: Warriors +4