Line-ups for tonight’s game might chop and change all day, as tonight is also the NBA trade deadline. If teams make deals, they are likely to have available neither the players they are sending out nor the ones they are bringing in due to travel logistics and/or the pending completion of physical exams. With this in mind, tonight could be a wild one. But as ever, we have tried to find the way through for you.
We have scoured the major betting agencies to bring you some great plays for the slate on offer this Thursday. Check out our best pick and value pick below and good luck to everyone following!
NBA Picks – Thursday, February 6th
San Antonio Spurs @ Portland Trail Blazers
Moda Center, 10.00pm ET
On the surface, with averages of 15.8 points, 13.9 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game on the season, Hassan Whiteside is always a very productive player. It has however long been the story of his career that he often puts up vacuous, empty numbers.
Every point scored does of course contribute to the final score, and every rebound grabbed is of course another possession one for the team. But they are not all created equal. Individual scoring opportunities can come about to the detriment of the offence as a whole if a player forces the action and plays outside of the flow of the team unit, and rebounds can also be misleading considering that defensive position can be sacrificed in order to get them. Whiteside has long been guilty of both of these things.
Nevertheless, after the first half of another season spent doing those same things, his play has improved in recent times. Concurrent with the explosion of Damian Lillard. Whiteside has freelanced less on offence and played more strict positional defence, far from dispensing with his reputation but at least putting it off for now.
Additionally, from the gambler’s point of view, even if he played in the most inefficient way possible in order to collect individual statistics, it is only those individual statistics that we are interested in. Pairing his always-prodigious rebounding rate with the fact that the San Antonio Spurs have one of the lowest offensive rebounding rates in the NBA, and Whiteside should clear the defensive glass at a high rate this evening.
Ariza, meanwhile, is not an exceptional rebounder himself, but he is at least paying big minutes now. Traded from the Sacramento Kings last month, he has taken over the majority of the minutes at the wide-open small forward position, and although he plays on the wing and does not have the athleticism that he used to, he plays enough minutes that a few rebounds should be easy enough time to come by. On the season as a whole thus far, Ariza is averaging 4.7 rebounds per game, rising to 5.2 in his time as a Blazer. Five more should not be a problem here.
New Orleans Pelicans @ Chicago Bulls
United Center, 8.00pm ET
Although they have a 19-33 record on the year as a whole, the Chicago Bulls only have three wins all season against teams that will make the playoffs this season. One of them was an improbable victory over the L.A. Clippers back on December 14th; the other two games came against the Memphis Grizzlies, early season victories when they were not who they now are now. Against every other player quality opponent they have faced, the Bulls have lost, sometimes heavily.
Of course, even with Zion Williamson back in the fold, the Pelicans are not likely to make the playoffs either. The defence is very much not ready for that. They do now however have plenty of weapons all over the court they can run against imbalanced defences. And while the Bulls on the season as a whole have the 13th-best defensive rating in the NBA, that number is for their total body of work rather than purely their recent one. In recent times, decimated by injuries, they have not been that middle of the road.
The Bulls’ injury report currently lists ten players on it, including four of their five regular starters. Wendell Carter, Lauri Markkanen, Kris Dunn and Otto Porter are all out tonight, and reserves Denzel Valentine and Daniel Gafford are also listed as doubtful for tonight’s contest. Although Ryan Arcidiacono, Tomas Satoransky and Chandler Hutchison are all listed as probable, they too are banged up, and in their last game, the Bulls found themselves giving a combined 66 minutes to the previously little-used frontcourt trio of Hutchison, Luke Kornet and Cristiano Felicio. The first two combined for a -51 rating. They are little used for a reason.
While the two teams are relatively equal in the standings, then, they are not in the form book. One is returning to health and ascending with a chance of a late playoff push; the other is in freefall. The Bulls might also make some trades between now and the start of play, which seems unlikely considering their situation and the lack of assets they have to sell but which also might mean more absences from an already depleted roster. All in all, the Pelicans should win tonight, and it might also be by quite a long way.
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