One NBA Game Before The All-Star Game
There is just the one NBA game on Thursday night but it is a case of think about the quality, not the quantity. It is a massive game, which we will get to later on, because there were plenty of big games to look back on from Wednesday night. With the All-Star game looming, there is a bit of a break coming up, so there were plenty of games on offer for fans to get excited about.
The Magic downed the Knicks in Orlando, winning by a score of 89-83. It was a tight one in Toronto, the Raptors just edging the Wizards by a score of 95-93 in a game that had everyone gripped until the end. The Thunder were comfortable at home, taking the out the Grizzlies by a score of 105-89. The Pelicans were thumped at home, losing 93-106 to the Pacers and the Timberwolves lost out in a close game, the Golden State Warriors triumphing by a score of 91-94. The Trail Blazers bagged a big win against the Lakers, with the Portland team cleaning up by 102-86.
The Celtics were winners in another very close affair, defeating the Hawks by a score of 89-88 in Boston. The Pistons weren’t able to be successful at home with the Spurs being extremely comfortable with an 87-104 win. The Heat lost in Cleveland, the Cavs romping home by 113-93 and the Bucks celebrated a win over the Kings, winning by 111-103. The Mavericks beat the Jazz by a score of 87-82 and the Clippers enjoyed a big 110-95 win against the Houston Rockets.
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Chicago Bulls
Before we head into the All-Star game, this is a game that will be central to the outcome of the Central Division. The Bucks will still think that they have a chance of grabbing the glory but in all honesty, the winner is going to come from these two teams and it will be interesting to see if any side lays down a marker for the next part of the season.
The Cavs have won their last two games and with a 9-1 record in their last 10 outings, they are finally showing the consistent form that many expected from them at the start of the campaign. They hold a 33-21 record, and this includes a road record of 12-12. There is a lot of expectation riding on the Cavs this season but at the moment, they are handling that pressure in an effective manner.
The Bulls have also won 33 games this season, coming into this one with a 33-20 record, which includes a 14-11 record in Chicago. The Bulls have triumphed in their last three outings, holding a 6-4 record in their last 10 games.
There is next to nothing between the teams when it comes to average points scored and allowed. The average points allowed is all-square, both teams having given up 99.1 and the Cavs have a slight edge when it comes to average points scored, leading 102.2 to 102.0.
While the Cavs expect to have a full squad to choose from, Kevin Love and LeBron James are being closely monitored for knocks. Jimmy Butler is a major doubt for the Bulls, suffering from a shoulder injury, as is Kirk Hinrich while Mike Dunleavy is causing slight concern for the team from Chicago.
If Butler is absent, a lot of expectations will be placed on Pau Gasol, who grabbed 26 points and 16 rebounds in the Tuesday night against Sacramento. That double-double was the 34th double-double of Pau Gasol’s time in the NBA and it was his 13th in a row. Gasol is now hunting down his own career best that he set back in 2010-11 when he was playing for the Lakers.
The Bulls had an excellent start to the season but they have lost 10 of their last 18 games and this is a rut that they really need to get out and the Thursday opposition may provide them with all the incentive and spark they need.
The Cavs are in a very different mind-set to the Bulls at the moment because they have a 14-1 record since mid-January. Their latest win was a 113-93 win over the Heat on Wednesday and LeBron was just one of 7 players that broke into double digits. He grabbed 18 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists, showing the form that everyone knows he can deliver. Kevin Love is also delivering, with the player grabbing 32 points in the Sunday night win against the Lakers but he may be a doubt considering he was poked in the eye on Wednesday night and stepped out of the game in the third quarter.
The Bulls are experiencing a poor run of form, they have lost 5 of 8 after winning 9 of 10 and you can see why the Cavs are slight favourites heading into this game, but there isn’t a lot between the two teams. The handicap odds are changing all the time but taking the Cleveland Cavaliers, even with a moderate negative handicap, is likely to be a smart option heading into this game and the break for the All-Stars match. Bet Now!