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

Things are getting tight.

With some teams down to a sixth of their schedule remaining, pretty much everything in both conferences is up for grabs. Thursday includes a few huge matchups that will have massive implications for various races down the stretch.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Milwaukee Bucks

So it’s not yet time to panic in Milwaukee…but it’s also not not time to panic.

With the Hawks, Knicks and Celtics arguably the three hottest teams in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks’ hold on a top-three seed is no longer a guarantee. Yes, it would take something of a collapse for Milwaukee to actually lose its hold on the third position, but with two games each against Philly and Brooklyn, plus matchups with the Hawks, Hornets, Pacers, Heat, Bulls, Wizards and Spurs, it’s not out of the question that things could get interesting.

The Sixers games come back to back, with the first one taking place tonight, and the second coming up on Saturday. Philly has the third best net rating in the NBA since the All-Star break, and had won four in a row prior to running into the Steph Curry buzz saw earlier this week.

The Bucks season, meanwhile, has basically been an alternation between winning and losing streaks. After taking seven straight out of the break, they alternated three game winning and losing streaks over their next 12 until their current streak of two straight losses.

That means they’re in line for one more drop before righting the ship. Also of note: this is the fourth time Milwaukee has hosted a two-game baseball-style series. In each of the previous three series, they dropped the first game against the spread.

The Pick: Philadelphia +6 @ -110 (Click to Bet)

Charlotte Hornets vs. Chicago Bulls

Tuesday night’s loss to the New York Knicks made it five losses in six games for the Hornets.

On one hand, they shouldn’t worry too much. Gordon Hayward and LaMelo ball have been out, and despite the rough patch, Charlotte is still among the top eight seeds in the conference. They’ve also shown the ability to get out of the gate strong, putting up 44 in the first quarter against Portland on Sunday night and then firing away to the tune of 68 percent from deep in the first half against the Knicks.

The issue has been sustainability. The Hornets have scored just 44 and 31 points in the second halves of those games.

In comes the Chicago Bulls. Much was made of Chicago’s struggles following the big trade for Nikola Vucevic, but they rolled directly into a brutal part of the schedule and have since had quality wins against the Nets, Pacers, Raptors and Celtics. They are not dead yet, and have no incentive to tank, what with their pick owed to the Magic.

Even without Zach LaVine, this is one time to go with the home team.

The Pick: Chicago -2.5 @ +100 (Click to Bet)

Other NBA Games

Phoenix Suns at Boston Celtics

The Suns are hot, and are nipping at the heels of the Utah Jazz for the top seed in the Western Conference, but they’ll also be playing on the second night of a back to back against a Boston team that has still won 8 of 10 despite falling to Chicago on Monday. Phoenix has dropped their last two road games that are the second half of back to backs.

New Orleans Pelicans at Orlando Magic

After a nice stretch following dealing away half their team, the Magic are 1-9 in their last 10 with a negative point differential of 16.4 points per 100 possessions, second worst stretch in the league over that time. They shouldn’t be taken against anyone right now, but especially not a team fighting for its playoff life.

Detroit Pistons at San Antonio Spurs

Just when it looked like the Spurs might be cooked, they’d won four of six coming into last night, including road victories over the Mavs, Suns and Pacers. The Pistons haven’t beaten a team that currently has a better record than the Spurs in over two months. They’ll be outclassed on the road.

Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks

Anthony Davis is back, and the Mavs had lost five of seven coming into last night – a closer than it should have been win over the Pistons - and have hit yet another rough patch after looking like they were primed for a run. The defending champs are desperate to stay 6th or higher. They’ll find a way to get it done here with one of their Big Two back.

NBA Expert Picks

(Click Odds To Bet)

Philadelphia +6 @ -110 (Click to Bet)

Chicago -2.5 @ +100 (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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