Odds, Preview, Predictions for Thursday’s NBA slate:
Bucks vs 76ers
Two eastern powerhouses face off tonight in what could be an Eastern Conference Finals preview. The dethroned 2021 champion Milwaukee Bucks lead by Giannis Antetokonmpo take on Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bucks haven’t played a game yet this season while the Sixers lost to the Celtics on Tuesday to start off 0-1 this season. Let’s jump into how to bet this game.
The Bucks ended last season losing a thrilling 7 game series to the Celtics without their second best player Khris Middleton. In the offseason they retained all their key role players/starters. At full strength this is a team that can win the finals as they demonstrated in 2021. It is important to note the Bucks start the season hobbled as Khris Middleton and Pat Connaughton are injured right now leaving the Bucks shooting, scoring, playmaking and size at the wing position will be limited. The team still has the best player in the world right now in Giannis Antetokonmpo and if you have a player like him, you always have a chance.
The Sixers lost to the Celtics on Tuesday but there’s no need to hit the panic button yet. The Celtics are a bad matchup for the Bucks with their wing size and scoring, they also have two good defensive guards to throw at Maxey and Harden. Looking at stats right now is somewhat inconclusive since it’s only a one game sample size but the Sixers got outrebounded, had fewer assists than the Celtics and shot a lower % from the field. All that being said I still believe in this Sixers team and what their ceiling can be.
Pick: Sixers Money line -175
Sixers home opener after a loss, they have a game under their belt while the Bucks don’t and I think that matters. Bucks without Middleton and Connaughton. I think the Sixers get their season back on track.
Clippers vs Lakers
It’s the Battle of Los Angeles for game 2 of tonight’s slate with the Clippers and Lakers going head to head in Crypto.com arena (RIP Staples). The Clippers will be at full health for the first time since the playoffs in 2021 when Kawhi Leonard tore his ACL. The Lakers are 0-1 and looked dreadful on opening night against the Warriors, given these circumstances one would favor the Clippers in this matchup, right? Well, it never is that simple now is it, lets talk about it.
The Clippers are co-favorites to win the NBA Finals and with good reason. Tyronn Lue is a championship head coach, Kawhi Leonard is a 2-time champion in his own right, Paul George is an excellent co-star, and this roster is loaded. The Clippers added John Wall as the point guard for the second unit which is arguably the best in basketball with Norman Powell, Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, Terance Mann and Brandon Boston. This team is loaded and if their two stars stay healthy their ceiling is the finals.
Anthony Davis and LeBron looked good, it’s the players around them that I’m concerned about now. Rob Pelinka doesn’t seem to know how they won the title in the bubble in 2020 because this team still has no shooting, is unathletic, and lack wing depth. If you told me the Lakers were a lottery team at the end of this season, I’d believe it. But they still have a core of LeBron and Anthony Davis and when healthy they’re as good as duo as there is in the league.
Pick: Lakers +5.5
The Clippers may well win their first NBA title this season but there is no way Kawhi Leonard, John Wall, and Paul George play major minutes tonight. The Clippers should only care about getting to the playoffs fully healthy this season and nothing else. The Lakers have a game under their belt and are at home, I don’t think they’ll win but they’ll keep this close.