We’re heading into the homestretch of the NBA betting regular season and three of the four teams taking part in the TNT doubleheader on Thursday night are on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. There shouldn’t be an issue finding motivation on the national stage for any of these teams unless they want their once-promising seasons cut short.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Chicago Bulls
Odds: Bulls -7
The 76ers have lost six in a row and were called out by head coach Doug Collins after their most recent loss. That put them five games out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference as of Wednesday. Philly is 29th in the league in points scored and outside of Jrue Holiday, can you trust anyone on the 76ers to make a shot?
The Bulls are one spot ahead of the 76ers in points scored without Derrick Rose and they’ve lost seven of their last 10 as they’re also tumbled in the East. They now find themselves in all the way down in sixth. This shouldn’t be a high-scoring game as both teams value each offensive possession and get after it on defense, but the edge has to go to the Bulls, who have won four of their last five in Chicago against the 76ers.
Philadelphia is a brutal 6-18 straight up (and 10-14 against the spread) on the road, and they look like a team that is quitting on their coach, which is never a good scene at this point of the season if you’re looking to make a run at the playoffs.
Betting Pick: Bulls
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Los Angeles Lakers
If nothing else, this game should be more up-tempo and conducive to scoring than the first game as neither team is particularly good defensively, although the Timberwolves are a better-than-expected 14th in points allowed. Minnesota has also played most of the season without Kevin Love, while the Lakers are without Pau Gasol, two of the biggest proponents in trade rumors earlier this season and they could still be on the block. There should be a fun matchup to watch at the point as Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio goes up against Steve Nash of the Lakers, but neither has been that great this season as they looked muted. Rubio is still coming back from a knee injury, while Nash struggles with his own ailments and is still getting used to the Lakers’ system, which is currently, give the ball to Kobe Bryant and get out of the way.
As of Wednesday, the Lakers are three games out of the final playoff spot in the West, while the Timberwolves are nine games out and really, they’re probably done for the year. They probably don’t have the firepower to hang with the Lakers in a shootout and they’re also not good enough defensively to keep the Lakers quiet, so Minnesota (who is 7-20 on the road straight up and 12-14-1 against the spread) is probably headed for a loss on the betting lines, although they’re going to put up a fight.
Betting Pick: Lakers