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What’s popping on Air-Ball?

It’s another busy NBA Thursday and you know what that means, it’s time to make some money. 

Jazz vs Hawks

Line: Utah -8.5

Pick: Utah -8.5

This line is massive and immediately caught my interest but then I saw the injury report and saw the reason why. Trae Young is listed as questionable so even the idea that Young may be playing hurt is enough to scare me to Utah’s side. Atlanta has one of the worst benches in the league right now so the idea that depth is going to have to potentially fill in for Young is a big no for me. In terms of the Jazz, they’re still one of the hottest teams in basketball despite their loss to Denver on Sunday. Expect a big night from Donovan Mitchell against an Atlanta team with marginal guard defenders. My guess is this should be a relatively easy Jazz win on the road in Atlanta. 

Warriors vs Mavericks

Line: Dallas -3

Pick: Dallas -3

Sometimes when you pick NBA regular-season games it simply comes down to who needs it more. In this game’s case, there isn’t a doubt in my mind the Mavericks need this one more than the Warriors. Dallas finally got back on track yesterday against Atlanta but the best way you can tell the importance of this game for them is Kristaps Porzingis’ status. Normally for a guy off a knee injury, the team is supposedly easing back into the rotation, back-to-backs are a guaranteed no-go. Except it appears for the Mavericks right now as Porzingis will be playing tonight. In terms of the match-up, Golden State is without Kevon Looney and James Wiseman so their front court depth will be rough tonight and Dallas is going to need Porzingis to capitalize off that. As much as we may want this to be a who plays better between Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic, it’ll likely come down to very simply how good Porzingis and the Mavs depth is against a shorthanded Warriors squad. I like those odds and for that, give me Dallas to cover the three points in an important win for them. 

Trail Blazers vs 76ers

Line: Philadelphia -10

Pick: Philadelphia -10

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are all out against the best team in the Eastern Conference, what could possibly go wrong? So not only does this team have no chance of guarding Joel Embiid but they also are basically missing all of their offence. If the Blazers led by Robert Covington, Rodney Hood and Anfernee Simons score more than a 100 tonight, I’ll be shocked. After kind of a weird game last night in Charlotte, this feels like a get right one for a Sixers team that’s virtually unbeatable at home in the best of situation. Expect big nights from Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Embiid as the Sixers cruise to an easy home win. 

Rockets vs Grizzlies

Line: Memphis -3

Pick: Memphis -3

After a five-game win streak for the Rockets, last night without John Wall it was ended by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Tonight in Memphis they’ll be without Victor Oladipo and I expect their losing ways to continue. The Grizzlies with a newly healthy Ja Morant are playing great basketball right now and quietly have staked their claim as a legitimate potential playoff team this season. Though they too have some injury concerns with Jaren Jackson Jr and others still out, no team has been better at handling health caused issues than the Grizzlies this season. Having Wall back is nice for the Rockets and Christian Wood should give the Memphis frontcourt issues as well but I just think this Memphis team is poised with Morant now back to go on a run at a playoff spot. If Houston wasn’t in the second night of a back-to-back I’d take them more seriously but with that on my side as well, Grizzlies -3 is the pick here for sure. 

Nuggets vs Lakers

Line: Los Angeles -5

Pick: Denver +5

The game of the night just so happens to also be the final game of the day as well, starting at 10 PM EST on TNT. Remember how I said it matters who the game means more for in the regular season? Well, for this game it’s really fascinating to decide who. For Denver, the Nikola Jokic MVP campaign is alive and well. A big win for them and performance for him would do wonders for a franchise looking to produce its first MVP. Meanwhile, for the defending champions, it’s no secret LeBron wants this MVP. He hasn’t missed a game yet this year and is putting up his usual great numbers. With Anthony Davis seeming to turn his play around to where he wants it to be on the weekend in Boston, the Lakers appear to be rolling. I just think that the younger Nuggets are just going to care more about this game than the Lakers and in giving me the five points as well, just feels like an added cushion. Look for Jokic to have a signature MVP moment as his Nuggets get a win against the champs on national TV. 

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