The NBA season will be interrupted on Thanksgiving Day, a day when no basketball is played so that Americans can watch football. NBA teams will try to get in a good night’s work on Wednesday, so that when they celebrate Thanksgiving, they can feel just a little bit better about the progress of their respective seasons.
Indiana Pacers @ Charlotte Bobcats
Wednesday, 7:05 PM ET
Odds: Pacers -7.5
The Pacers have been true to their nickname this season, setting the pace in the Eastern Conference. This is a team that is ripening into a force, one that can take on the Miami Heat and not back down. Paul George is becoming a superstar, not just a star. Roy Hibbert is becoming a star, not just a really good player. With Luis Scola and David West at the forward spots and Lance Stephenson backing up George Hill on the perimeter, Indiana owns a great deal of quality depth. The Pacers have a substantial mix of youth and experience. Head coach Frank Vogel has the total trust of his players. Everything about the Pacers’ situation speaks to stability and durability. This team is built to last, and it should be able to handle a Charlotte team whose level of talent just isn’t in the same league. The Pacers should cruise in this game and cover the point spread.
Memphis Grizzlies @ Boston Celtics
Wednesday, 7:35 PM ET
Odds: Grizzlies -3
It’s going to be a rough night for these two teams, since they’ll both be missing their foremost players. Memphis watched Marc Gasol get injured over the weekend. The excellent low-post performer suffered an MCL sprain which will sideline him for at least six weeks, and very likely a few weeks more than that. Gasol will be inactive for a month before he can even begin to entertain any notions of rehabbing on the road to a return. His absence from the Memphis lineup will make the Grizzlies smaller, less competent, and that much more dependent on perimeter shooting, which they don’t have.
Yet, for all the ways in which the Gasol injury really hurts Memphis, it has to be said that the Grizzlies will be playing an opponent that’s not in a good position to take advantage. The Celtics will still be without star point guard Rajon Rondo, limiting their ability to run crisp halfcourt sets and generate the ball movement that will outflank Memphis’ defense. No Gasol versus no Rondo means that the supporting casts will decide this game. Memphis, of course, can still turn to Zach Randolph on the low block. Boston won’t have as good an answer. Take the Grizzlies on the betting lines.
Denver Nuggets @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Wednesday, 8:05 PM ET
Odds: Timberwolves -6
It’s true that Denver has worked its way above the .500 mark by registering an impressive road win at Dallas on Monday night, but the Nuggets are going to be challenged by Minnesota’s up-tempo game. The Nuggets are still a work in progress, and so they can’t be fully relied upon to contain the T-Wolves’ offense on the road. Minnesota has been knocked around on the road in recent weeks, but the Wolves have a very good chance of regrouping at home.