It’s the NBA’s annual overseas jaunt on Thursday when the Atlanta Hawks face the Brooklyn Nets in London, but who will be okay in the UK as the race for the Eastern Conference play-offs heats up?
Amid the usual sightseeing trips, photo opportunities and a sales job for the league’s sponsors and fans, both teams have been underlining that the game at the O2 is all business, and with rivals picking up some momentum in recent weeks, jetlag won’t be an acceptable excuse.
The one thing that the Hawks – who are +2.5 on the handicap at 1.85 - will give up is home advantage. They are 14-5 in Atlanta but this has become a road game, just as it was when they dropped to a 91-86 loss in Brooklyn last week.
Since then, they’ve picked up solid wins over Houston and Indiana before losing in Memphis, and they will lose a little defensively with DeMarre Carroll out and Lou Williams stepping in.
Brooklyn’s five-game winning streak was ended in Toronto on Sunday but it’s been their defence – and a greater continuity in their rotation – that’s perked them up lately.
Even with Deron Williams missing the trip, a more consistent approach can help them finally make a push into the play-off picture, and they’re 1.72 for victory on foreign soil.
Back in the States, two of the West’s best square off when the Houston Rockets face the Oklahoma City Thunder, and it could turn into a shootout between Kevin Durant and his former running mate James Harden.
Durant continues to lead the NBA with 29.8 points per game – with his rate up to 34.8 during the last eight - with Harden notching 24.6 this season, and the latter will need a big night if Houston are to extend their current winning streak to four games over a OKC team which is just 12-7 on the road.
The Thunder are averaging 103.1 per night on the road with the Rockets – who are good value at -2.5 on the handicap - putting up 105.2 at home, with the total points line at 206.5.
Best bet: Take Brooklyn over Atlanta on the handicap at 1.98