There’s a double header of potential play-off showdowns on Thursday night in the NBA, but it’s out West where the greatest intrigue lies.
San Antonio, with the league’s best record at the All Star break, renew hostilities with the Los Angeles Clippers, with the Spurs looking for their first victory over their would-be rivals this season at the third attempt.
The Clips won 106-84 when the sides met in early November, before taking a 92-87 victory a few weeks later and they return from a week’s break with the target of extending their current winning streak to five.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin were arguably the best two players in the All Star Game last Sunday and they maintain their team is a genuine title contender.
They’re both priced at 1.85 to score above 19 points here and LA’s odds on keeping the Spurs in check will increase if they shackle Tony Parker once again, with the Frenchman at 1.85 to score 22 points, despite his prior struggles against the Clippers.
The Spurs have also won four straight, but their hosts are 21-5 at the Staples Center, so they look a safe bet at -3 on the handicap at 1.91.
There’s a battle of the East in Chicago where Miami will try to run against the Bulls. Although the Heat come in with eight successive victories and with the swagger of a champion, they’ve found it tough to pick up the pace in their last meetings with Chicago, whose swarming defence was again a big factor in the Bulls taking a 96-89 win when these two last faced off.
However, the hosts are just 5-5 over their last ten games and they’re at +2.5 on the handicap, in a game where the total points line might struggle to reach 186.0.
But watch out for two All Stars putting up numbers, with LeBron James at 1.85 to score over 29 and Luol Deng at 1.85 to rack up 17 points or more.
Best Bet: Take Miami on the handicap over Chicago at 1.91
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