The NBA took a little breather with the All-Star Weekend, but the fun and games are over. The season is now two-thirds done and it’s time for several teams interested in a spot in the playoffs to get serious. Tonight’s lineup offers a number of contests that will give them a chance to push forward.
The Texas Showdown
The All-Star break was good for the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs. The Mavs suffered three straight losses that had put in doubt that the arrival of Irving would revolutionize Dallas’ aspirations as much as expected. For the Spurs, the downtime helped because they were going downhill before it without any brakes, suffering 14 losses in a row.
The Mavericks, sixth in the Western Conference with a 31-29 mark, remain in the running for the playoffs. The arrival of Irving means that they have been placed higher in the odds for the title.
The Spurs, penultimate in the Western, in addition to a very negative dynamic, have a bad overall mark of 14-45. And as visitors, their performance drops because they have been defeated in 24 of the 29 games they have played as visitors.
Luka Doncic continues to shine for the Mavs and will put on another great performance tonight. The Spurs seem to be in a slump with no way out, and Dallas will take the game.
Battle Of The Bulge
The Toronto Raptors await the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday night in a game in which both need a win to clinch play-in spots in their respective conferences. The Raptors occupy 10th place in the East with a mark of 28-31 after two straight victories, but it is easy for them to progress in the standings. They are very close to the Atlanta Hawks, eighth with 29-30.
The Pelicans are seventh in the Western, barely above 50% at 30-29. However, they’re better on the road because, at home, they lose practically two out of every three games they play. Despite this court factor, the Pelicans’ expectations are theoretically higher than those of Toronto, who has picked up 18 of their 28 victories at home.
Both teams sit around the middle of the Western and are looking to restart the season strong. However, the Pels are without Zion Williamson and Dyson Daniels. The Raptors get Gary Trent, Jr. and OG Anunoby back, and both will be ready for action.
This game goes to Toronto with a stronger offensive lineup.
The Celtics Keep Their Eye On The Prize
The Boston Celtics, favorites to win a title that they were very close to claiming last season, resume activity on a theoretically affordable field tonight. They’re taking on the Indiana Pacers, a team that has had nothing but trouble almost the entire season.
The Celtics are first in the Eastern, with 42 wins and 17 losses. And before the break, they had won seven of their last 10 games. The Pacers, also in the East, would be left out of both the playoffs and the play-in since they occupy 12th place with 26 wins and 34 losses. Before the break, they were in free fall, suffering eight losses in 10 games.
The Celtics are the favorites tonight, although sportsbooks aren’t overly convinced. The lines are very tight, but Boston will use its superior inside force to take the win.