NBA: Heat v Pacers and Warriors v Clippers headlines Thursday’s action
Big matches across the pond
There’s plenty of action stateside on Thursday morning as the NBA season rolls towards its halfway point.
The Golden State Warriors will play their 42nd game of an 84 game season as they travel to face the Los Angeles Clippers.
Meanwhile, the Indiana Pacers host the Miami Heat, while there’s a Western Conference duel between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Coral News Team have previews of all three of those games, as well as one or two tips to help whet your appetite.
Heat @ Pacers
12:00 AM [UK Time] Thursday 11th January
The Heat are enjoying their best run of the season. Coach Erik Spoelstra has guided the team to five straight wins and fourth place in the Eastern Conference. Up against the Pacers, who have a far from impressive home record of 7-5, the Coral News Team are expecting the Heat, who are 12-8 on the road, to just about edge a victory.
However, it won’t be easy. The Pacers have been buoyed by the return of leading scorer Victor Oladipo. The 25-year-old from Maryland has flourished since coming back into the side and has provided 14 assists in the last two games. He could be aided by center Domantas Sabonis, who could come in for Myles Turner following a series of impressive displays off the bench.
Even so, it’ll be a tough ask for the hosts against a Heat side that have won their last three on the road. That includes a dramatic last-second success against the Raptors on Tuesday. They’ve won their last two games by a single point which suggests this contest could be just as tight. John Richardson and Goran Dragic have both been in excellent form offensively in recent weeks and will be looking to continue that at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Timberwolves @ Thunder
01:00 AM [UK Time] Thursday 11th January
Fourth take on sixth in the Western Conference as the Timberwolves welcome the Thunder to Target Center. If the road team want to get anything out of this game, they can’t just rely on the performances of Russell Westbrook. The 29-year-old has been head and shoulders above his teammates this season and leads the stats for the team in all of the important offensive areas.
He’s formed a good partnership with Paul George in recent weeks. But the rest of the team need to contribute more if the Thunder are to seriously challenge in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves could welcome back Jeff Teague for the first time in seven games. Tyus Jones has proved an ample replacement – his performance against LeBron James on Monday was particularly impressive – but will likely drop-out to aid the inclusion of Teague.
Warriors @ Clippers
03:30 AM [UK Time] Thursday 11th January
Can anyone stop the Warriors? Coach Steve Kerr has led the reigning champions to 16 wins since the start of December. They’re top of the Western Conference with a 33-8 record and have won their last 12 matches against the inconsistent Clippers.
The home side will have to continue to cope without several key players for the visit of the Warriors. Danilo Gallinari, Austin Rivers and Patrick Beverley are all long-term absentees. Meanwhile, Milos Teodosic and Blake Griffin may sit out again. Lou Williams and DeAndre Jordan have filled in well in recent weeks, and they’ll be boosted by the news that Kevin Durant and Draymond Green are both likely to miss out for the Warriors.
Regardless, the Clippers are up against the top NBA point-scorers and leading average assist makers per match. That makes the Warriors at -15.5 on the handicap the most appealing option at 10/11, with their Money Line odds almost unbackable at 1/14.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication