The All-Star break has passed and the weekly Thursday on TNT doubleheader will feature four NBA betting teams that you’ll find near the top of the contenders list – including the defending champs. Here’s a preview of the TNT Thursday night double-header along with a couple of predictions.
Miami Heat @ Chicago Bulls
Odds: Heat -2.5
The Heat are favored to defend their title, and they’ll be in Atlanta on Wednesday night, so fatigue could be a factor as their trio of All-Stars will have to find another gear. James is on his way to another MVP award, so it seems, and he didn’t have a great All-Star game, so he should come out with some fire on Thursday night.
The Bulls have gotten on well without their former MVP, Derrick Rose, who may not even be coming back this season. They’re still an excellent defensive team, but do they have enough offensive firepower to make a serious push in the Eastern Conference? Even if Rose comes back, will he be at 100%?
Miami has won six of the last 10 meetings between the two, but Chicago has won three of the last four, including a 96-89 victory in Miami on January 4th. It’s tough to beat the Heat twice in a season and their stars have very good memories. If they can find some energy in the first quarter after playing on Wednesday night, this could be a long night for the Bulls in the Windy City. Take the Heat on the betting lines.
Pick: Heat +2.5
San Antonio Spurs @ Los Angeles Clippers
Odds: Clippers -3
For all the talk about the Heat, Bulls, Oklahoma City and even the Clippers, San Antonio has been the league’s best team all season and no one talks about them. Tony Parker has been an MVP candidate for the Spurs, who are fourth in the NBA in scoring while ranking first in assists, and even when they sit the likes of Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, they’re still beating very good teams and that is a nod to head coach Gregg Popovich, who has his team prepared no matter who they are playing.
The Clippers are more known for their high-flying act, but the truth of the matter is that Chris Paul runs the show and they’ll go as far as he takes them. CP3 is coming off an MVP performance in the All-Star game and he is probably the best point guard in the league. The matchup between Paul and Parker is going to be a joy to watch if you’re a purist.
The Spurs have won six of the last 10 between these two, but the Clippers have won the last two. They haven’t met yet this season, but if the Clippers are going to prove they’re a legitimate contender in the Western Conference, they’ll need to win games like this, especially on a nationally televised stage. However, the Spurs have a lot to prove as well and they’ll sneak out a road win in a hostile environment.
Pick: Spurs +3