Philadelphia 76ers vs Milwaukee Bucks
This is a huge game for both teams, as the Bucks still have an outside chance at reclaiming their No. 1 seed from a year ago.
This will be the first of a back-to-back between the two teams, as Milwaukee won the first matchup back in March (109-105 OT).
Despite their 35-22 record, Milwaukee’s been mostly a disappointment — especially after their collapses in their last two postseason appearances.
Regardless, this will be a great opportunity to get some momentum heading into the playoffs, as they currently sit just four games back of the Sixers, and 3.5 back of the Brooklyn Nets.
From Philly’s perspective — the Sixers have a prime opportunity to further their stranglehold on the Eastern Conference’s top-seed, critical for a team that has struggled on the road at times.
Regardless, it will be fascinating to see how Mike Budenholzer decides to defend Joel Embiid, as Brook Lopez — despite his length — is not exactly known for his defensive prowess. Their best bet might be Giannis Antetokounmpo, who certainly has the strength and toughness to hang with the 7-footer down low.
I expect a low-scoring, playoff-esque atmosphere Thursday, leaning me under the total — wherever it may land.
Phoenix Suns vs Boston Celtics
This is a tale of two tapes, as the Celtics join the Bucks as one of the most disappointing teams in basketball, while the Suns are anything but.
At send in the West, Chris Paul has completely rejuvenated a Suns team that has missed the playoffs in 12 of the last 13 seasons.
Monty Williams appears to be the runaway favorite for coach of the year, getting the most out of a roster filled with youth and promise.
The Celtics on the other hand, are limping into the postseason.
At just 31-27, they’re just sixth in the East, and only a game clear of the dreaded ‘play-in tournament’.
It’s been difficult to back Boston, but they haven’t been super unprofitable this season (28-28-1 ATS), and this is a great spot for them. They’re coming off two days’ rest, while the Suns will be in the second game of a back-to-back.
The C’s should open at plus-odds, creating a ripe opportunity for bettors shopping for a home underdog.
Buyer beware though, the Suns have been exceptional against the number (36-21 ATS), and are a league-best 18-7 away from home.