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NBA Thursday Finds LeBron James Sidelined

Several games are on the NBA schedule for tonight, including a couple that could have playoff implications for some teams. Here’s a look at a few of the matchups on the slate for tonight, with the best possible picks around. 

Bucks Can Tie for Conference Lead vs. Nets

The Bucks still have a 3.5 game lead over the Bulls in the Central Division standings but are just one game behind Miami for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. This is the tightest race this conference has seen in many years. With seven games left in the regular season, only 6.5 games separate seventh-seeded Cleveland from the first-place Heat.

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Brooklyn sits two games behind Cleveland in the eighth spot in the conference standings. On Wednesday, Brooklyn rallied in the fourth quarter to beat the Pistons 130-123. Kevin Durant scored 41 for Brooklyn in the victory.

The Nets still have a slight chance to avoid the play-in tournament if they can make up 4.5 games on Toronto and take over the sixth seed, but the Raptors aren’t slowing down as they have won four straight and are 8-2 in their last ten games overall.

The Bucks won’t have much success defending  Kevin Durant as he’ll have another big game to lead the Nets to a win.

Cavs to Face Streaking Hawks

The Cleveland Cavaliers go to Atlanta on Friday night to face the Hawks. Both teams have secured their position in the postseason as it looks like they’ll be two of the teams in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament. Cleveland still has a chance to move up from the seventh seed to challenge the Raptors as they are just two games behind them in the standings.

Atlanta has won three straight games and solidified its position as the tenth seed in the conference. They are 5.5 games ahead of the Knicks with six games to go in the regular season and still have a slim chance to challenge for the sixth seed. The Hawks have also won seven of their last ten games overall. PG Trey Young has averaged 31 points per game over Atlanta’s last five matchups.

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Atlanta is peaking at the right time and will get their fourth straight win.

Lakers and Jazz Look to End Losing Streaks

The Los Angeles Lakers are still hanging on to the tenth seed in the Western Conference. However, it’s just a matter of time before they give up that position to the Spurs, who are just a half-game behind them for the last position for the play-in tournament.

The Lakers have lost nine of their last 12 games and will also be without LeBron James. He returned to Los Angeles yesterday ahead of the rest of the team to rehab his injured left ankle.

Utah has also been faltering lately, losing five straight while giving up first place in the Northwest Division to the Denver Nuggets. As a result, they have fallen to the sixth seed in the Western Conference and are just 2.5 games ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves.

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Utah will win big at home against the shorthanded Lakers.

Erik is a writer and a sports nut who has had the good fortune to be able to experience a wide variety of world sports action up close and personal. He enjoys staying on top of the changing world of athletics and capitalizing on his writing skills to offer a unique take on what's going on in the ever-changing athletics ecosystem.

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