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NBA Games Preview 10.03.2019

This Sunday we have not one, not two, but three early NBA games to choose from. The first one will likely offer little intrigue, as Detroit should be able to easily take care of Chicago at home, if they want to keep some play-off hopes alive. Let’s turn out attention to the later games, which start at the same time. Both games are important for the East Conference standings, so the thriller is guaranteed.

 

Miami Heat - Toronto Raptors (Games starts at 19.30 UK Time)

Maybe this game is a bit more important for the Heat, as they occupy the last play-off spot right now with 31-34 record. Dwayne Wade would love to try a last play-off push in his storied career. He’s been pretty good lately, leading his team to 6-4 record in their last 10 games. This pace will probably be enough to fend off the chasing teams – Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets, which are both a few wins behind Heat. By the way, Miami earned an invaluable win in Charlotte this past week, in the way the veteran teams usually grind their wins. Heat are on a 4 game winning streak currently and will go for number 5 against the high-flying Raptors.

Toronto have won 7 of their last 10 games and still hope to catch the Bucks for the best record in the East and the home-court advantage. They’ve had 2 of these losses in the last 3 games though. First Detroit prevented in a hard-fought overtime game in Motor City by 112-107. Then Raptors were hit on their home floor by the surging Houston Rockets, led by the freely scoring James Harden. Finally, Toronto took an easy win against the Anthony Davis-less New Orleans on the road, before coming to Florida for this match-up with the Heat.

Prediction: This is the third installment in the season series between the teams. Toronto won both games so far, but Heat played well. They were especially competitive in the first game here, on their home floor, and lost by 2 points only just before the New Year. Heat are on the rise in the moment and I think they are more than able to give Raptors a proper fight. I’d be taking any plus spread for Heat on the default line (probably some 3-5 points), and maybe even adding some beer money on the money-line, which should be around 2.50.

 

Philadelphia 76ers - Indiana Pacers (Game starts at 19.30 UK Time)

This is a direct clash for the third spot in the East. Both teams are without their leading players right now. The difference is that Pacers have lost their best player Victor Oladipo for the whole season. This would probably cost them the third place in the standings and will diminish their chances for a good deep play-off run. Embiid is out for Philadelphia and they have big trouble in the paint on both ends of the floor without him. The Process is listed as day-to-day and his status for tonight’s game is unknown. Albeit it doesn’t seem too likely he will be back in the line-up tonight.

Indiana still hold a good tempo, even without Oladipo. They’ve won 5 of their last 10 games and the new addition Wes Matthews is fitting well with the team. Pacers signed Matthews after he was released by New York (following his including in the Porzingis trade). Old Wes is of course way beyond his best years but could still prove to be a very decent bench scorer for a play-off bound team. Otherwise Darren Colllison tries to fill to some extent Oladipo’s miss in the roster, actively helped by center Myles Turner, forward Thad Young, shooting guard Bogdanovic and the young Sabonis off the bench.

Sixers are also 5-5 in their last 10 games. They have their excuse in the Embiid’s injury, but still lost against elite teams (Golden State, Houston, Boston, Portland). This is no good sign for Sixers’ fans and probably mean that Philly will need at least one more year before living up to the status of a real title contender. They even lost against the lowly Bulls the other night in Chicago. It was a funny ending, Bulls received the chance for the last winning shot after a clock malfunction (some players from both teams were already in the locker rooms). Still, quite a bad loss for an ambitious team like Philly.

Prediction: This is the 4th and last game in the season series. Philly leads 2-1, but the more eye-catching fact is that there have been only road wins in all three games. Pacers won their road game here in Philly in mid-December, but Oladipo was still active back then. Probably Sixers will prove too much for Indy right now. They need the win more in order to stop the bad recent run and to catch Pacers in the standings for the third place in the Conference. Indiana won’t give up without a fight though. It’s all about the spread, as usual. If the oddsmakers give us a spread not bigger than 4 points for Sixers to cover, I’d be taking that. Vice versa, if Pacers are too underestimated, say 6+ points in their favour, I’d be tempted to change ships and back them not to be blown out in what looks like a competitive game on paper.

 

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