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What’s popping on Air-Ball:

It’s another TNT Thursday which means it’s another opportunity to make some money. Here are my picks against the spread tonight in the NBA. 

Heat vs Rockets

Line: Heat -2

Pick: Heat -2

With both team’s in need of some wins quickly, Heat Rockets is a fascinating way to open up on Thursday. For Houston, having both Victor Oladipo and John Wall in the lineup is big however, missing out on Christian Wood still is a major issue. Meanwhile for the Heat, Jimmy Butler is back and doing his thing. The Heat are still in my mind a couple pieces short of being the conference title contender many of us thought they’d be however in this game, that shouldn’t matter. With the mismatch Bam Adebayo poses downlow with the Rockets still missing Wood, I expect him to be the major difference. Houston’s best bet for an upset will come with Oladipo. The guard is up against the team he has not so subtly hinted he wants to play for next year so maybe a vintage Oladipo performance infront of his potential new home could keep it close. In the end though, the Heat are the better team on paper and need this win bad. 

Raptors vs Celtics

Line: Celtics -3.5

Pick: Celtics -3.5 

This is a hard game to pick because despite how we saw it about a month ago in a massive blowout, lots has changed. Pascal Siakam is finally playing like himself again, Fred VanVleet looks like a potential All-Star, Kyle Lowry remains awesome and Nick Nurse has really cobbled together a reputable rotation. On the flip side, Boston comes in without Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker really struggling since returning from injury. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have been great as expected but apparently Brown’s knee is causing him troubles. As negative as that sounds for Boston, here’s why I’m leaning green tonight. They need this game way more than the Raptors and although they’ve been up and down especially with Kemba, I think going against a familiar division rival can ironically help them find themselves. The Celtics have way more talent even if the Raptors are playing better and after a disappointing end to their road trip, the home cooking of the TD Garden should be exactly what is needed. 

Pacers vs Pistons

Line: Pacers -2.5

Pick: Pacers -2.5 

After a really promising start to the season, the Pacers have really fallen off. Losers of six of their last seven, the offence has fallen off of a cliff seeing them drop to 17th in the NBA. What’s weird about this is other than Caris LeVert and TJ Warren, they’ve been largely very healthy. Neither Domantas Sabonis Malcolm Brogdon has missed a game and Myles Turner has missed just two. The good news is they get the Pistons tonight to hopefully right the ship. Sure the Pistons played well in Los Angeles and against Brooklyn but the reality remains that they’re one of the worst teams in the NBA. Sure Jerami Grant has been much better than expected this season however after the Derrick Rose trade on the weekend and with Killian Hayes still out, their guard depth is a nightmare. I expect a big Brogdon effort along with the bench guys like the Holiday’s and TJ McConnell as they just overwhelm an undermanned Pistons team in a game the Pacers need to get back on track. 

76ers vs Trail Blazers

Line: 76ers -5.5 

Pick: 76ers -5.5 

Let’s be honest here, it is ridiculous Portland is 13-10 and in the fifth seed in the West. You’d be hard-pressed to find a team more impacted by injury and yet, Damian Lillard just does his thing and wins basketball games. Speaking of winning basketball games, the Sixers are 14-0 when their starting lineup of Seth Curry, Danny Green, Tobias Harris, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid actually plays. They’re also 17-3 when the big fella plays so in summary, this team is really good and all are expected to play tonight. As much as I love Dame and boy do I, the fact the Blazers beat the Sixers in the last week without him is going to be fresh in the Sixers minds and help them to a big win. Philly appears on a mission right now and if you watched them against Sacramento a couple of nights ago, they’re just different this season. Former Sixer teams lose that Kings game and probably this one as well. However I have faith in the 2021 Sixers being a different type of team which is why they’re my pick tonight in Portland. 

Magic vs Warriors

Line: Warriors -8 

Pick: Warriors -8

Stephen Curry is playing on another level right now. If you haven’t been tuning in for some reason recently, trust me you need to. He’s been a man on a mission and even though I don’t necessarily love the rest of this Warriors roster (or even like them), I can’t pick against Curry. Now I’m not saying Curry has been better than his unanimous MVP self but he’s been on that guy’s level this season and when that happens well, even if the roster isn’t great you’re going to win some games. The fact this Warriors team is favoured by eight over anyone is crazy and just speaks to how good Steph is right now. All I’m saying is I’m glad Curry is playing this well right now because I don’t think I could ever stomach betting on the Magic right now. Cole Anthony’s buzzer beater against Minnesota is all that separates them from having only two wins in their last 17 games. This is a really bad basketball team right now so sending them up against Steph Curry is well, frankly mean. It’s also going to be must watch as Steph has to be on fifty-point watch again tonight against the 23rd best defence in basketball. Expect another big Steph night in a rather easy home win.  

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