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Jonathan Macri previews Thursday's NBA games and gives us his picks

Only six games but a few goodies, with 14 of the recently named 24 All-Stars in All-Stars in action.

Dallas Mavericks vs. Philadelphia 76ers

The Mavs have been showing signs of bouncing back for a while now, and they’ve finally crawled all the way back to .500. They might have a tough time getting over the hump though, at least on Thursday night.

The Sixers have lost just twice at home all season long, which is tied for the fewest in the NBA. Their home net rating is only a plus 5.8, which is good but not great, but they’re about to get an influx of shooting.

Seth Curry is on track to return for this game, and when he plays alongside their other four primary starters, the Sixers are 14-3 with a positive 14.6 net rating and an offensive rating of 122.3.

For as much as Dallas has improved of late, they’re still the 25th ranked defense in basketball. Oddly enough though, that rating jumps to 13th on the road. Of course, Dallas has only played one road game all month, so it’s not like that number has been tested much recently.

The spread here is a manageable two possessions, and the Sixers have the one guy who might be able to limit Luka Doncic by himself in DPOY contender Ben Simmons. There’s also the matter of Kristaps Porzingis trade rumors swirling, but he may not even play with a bad back.

The Mavs appear to have righted the ship, but it doesn’t mean they still can’t experience some bumpy waters.

The Pick: Philadelphia -5.5 @ -110 (Click To Bet)

Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets

Brooklyn has now won and covered seven straight, including wins over both the Clippers and Lakers on the road.

They’re now back home, and while Kevin Durant is still out, James Harden and Kyrie Irving have been doing just fine without him. Brooklyn has a positive 15.1 net rating over the last two weeks according to Cleaning the Glass, and they’ve shown the ability to both score at will and stop teams when they need to.

In Orlando, they get one of the most offensively challenged teams in basketball, ranking 24th with an offensive rating of 105.6. Orlando has only scored over 110 points 10 times, and when Brooklyn holds a team to fewer than 110, they’re 9-1.

The spread is a tad larger than you’d like, but it’s close enough to make you feel comfortable taking the hottest team in the NBA.

The Pick: Brooklyn -7.5 -108 (Click To Bet)

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Sacramento Kings vs. New York Knicks

The losing streak is up to eight in a row for the Sacramento Kings. They are now 12-19 after hitting a high water mark of 12-11 earlier this season, when things were feeling oh so very different. They now have a minus 5.8 net rating, good for 27th in the NBA, and while they still have a borderline top ten offense, they still rank dead last by a comfortable margin in defense.

That defense has given up under 100 points exactly one time all season long to…wait for it…the New York Knicks. New York has been a pleasant surprise all season long, but that success has come on the heels of their third ranked defense, which held Sacramento to 103 points in their first meeting, and not their offense.

That earlier meeting also proved that the Knicks, despite the presence of All-Star Julius Randle, can go cold on any given night. The Kings had also lost nine of 11 going into that previous contest, so it’s not like the Knicks are above being a slump-buster for a struggling squad.

Even so, New York is just the more competent team right now with far more to play for. This spread is small enough to feel OK about giving the points.

The Pick: New York -2 -108 (Click To Bet)

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Other NBA Games

Los Angeles Clippers at Memphis Grizzlies

The Clippers are making their push. They had four straight impressive wins starting on February 10, lost to Utah without Kawhi or PG13, came back and beat that same Jazz team to end Utah’s nine-game winning streak, dropped a close one to the surging Nets, and then destroyed the Wizards. The Grizzlies and their 22nd ranked offense simply don’t have the horses to hang around in this one.

Washington Wizards at Denver Nuggets

The Wizards five-game winning streak ended with a thud on Tuesday night thanks to a 19-point drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Clippers. Part of that winning streak was a home win versus these same Nuggets, who have won six of seven games at home and have the fifth best point differential in the league over the last two weeks according to Cleaning the Glass. Take the favorite.

New Orleans Pelicans at Milwaukee Bucks

The Pelicans have won two in a row, but one of those came against Boston, who is in all sorts of pain right now, and only happened after they went down 24 at home on national TV. Their most recent W – a ten-point victory over the tanking Pistons – was even less impressive, as they failed to cover an 11.5 point spread. Meanwhile, the previously struggling Bucks have won and covered three straight and appear to be figuring things out. Go with the better team.

NBA Expert Picks

(Click Odds To Bet)

Philadelphia -5.5 @ -110 (Click To Bet)

Brooklyn -7.5 -108 (Click To Bet)

New York -2 -108 (Click To Bet)

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Article Author


Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball that Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.


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