There are only seven NBA games on the card for tonight, with some teams, which started out looking like contenders, now looking like they’re just going through the motions.  One of these teams is the Boston Celtics, just barely holding on at .500 and already putting out hints that they may be open to some trade offers.  Then there are the surprise teams, like the league-leading Utah Jazz.  They may not have a single legitimate super-star on the roster, but somehow manage to maintain the best record in the NBA.  The Celtics have a chance to prove themselves tonight, while the Jazz get the night off.

Celtics Host The Nuggets

We start off tonight up in icy cold Boston at the TD Garden where the   13-13 Celtics welcome in the 15-11 Denver Nuggets featuring the irrepressible Nikola Jokic.  He is now averaging 26.5 points per game and has led his Nuggets team out of the doldrums and perhaps into the playoffs this year.

The Celtics are favored by three points on their home court tonight with the Over/Under set at 221.5 for the game.  Oddsmakers have the moneylines at Boston -143 & Denver +123 and, although favored tonight, the Celtics have lost ten of their last 15 games and Kemba Walker attributes this to “not playing hard enough.”

Raptors Get A Chance To Shine

The 12-15 Toronto Raptors will open a two-game stand in Milwaukee tonight, taking on the 16-11 Bucks as 5-point road dogs against an inconsistent Milwaukee team.  Moneylines are set at -210 for the Bucks and + 170 for the Raptors, with the Over/Under set at 236 points.

The Bucks somehow keep negating superlative performances by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who just scored his fourth triple-double of the season, 24/17/10.  The 114-109 to OKC was the Bucks third loss in a row.  I will go out on a limb here and predict the Bucks are the winners tonight over the Raptors, thus avoiding their fourth loss in a row.

Pels Get A Rematch Against Memphis

The 11-15 New Orleans Pelicans are finding it tough to get back over the .500 mark again this season, despite the abundant, if young, talent they have on that team.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Pelicans dominated the visiting 11-11 Memphis Grizzlies down in New Orleans, but now must face them once more.  This game, however, is up in Memphis, where oddsmakers have the game listed as a pick.  Moneyline are at -109 each and the Over/Under is 231.5.

The Dallas Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls each netted 25 three-point shots against the Pelicans, who then managed to lose another straight game to the Detroit Pistons, the worst team in the league.  That prompted New Orleans head coach Stan van Gundy to comment, “We can’t lean on our defense at all right now.  That’s a problem.”  Tonight will determine if the lesson was learned.

OKC Looking For An Underdog Win

Back in January, the Portland Trail Blazers lost two of their biggest assets when CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic went down with significant injuries in back-to-back games.  Even the most loyal of Portland’s fans thought that their season was pretty much over with.

The Blazers have pretty much held their own, maintaining a 16-10 record on the season. Tonight, they face an 11-15 Oklahoma City Thunder team that has proven that they can jump up and bite any team in the league on any given night.  The Thunder are 6-point home court dogs with the Over/Under set at 224.5.  Oddsmakers have the moneylines at Portland -230 & OKC +185.

Lakers And Nets Round Things Out

The 21-7 LA Lakers are flying up to Minneapolis to face the 7-20 Minnesota Timberwolves at the Target Center as 6.5-point road favorites.  Moneylines for the game stand at LA -265 & Minnesota +215 with the Over/Under at 222.5.  Take the Under.

And finally, the 17-12 Brooklyn Nets, without Kevin Durant, will visit the surprising 17-9 Phoenix Suns, who keep on creeping up in the standings.  The Over/Under for the game is 231, with the Suns being 5.5-point home court favorites.  Oddsmakers have the moneylines set at Phoenix -210 & Brooklyn +175.