Tue, Oct 30, 1:04pm by Staff Writer
The NBA season is in full swing with two matches on ESPN Australia’s NBA coverage this Thursday.
Two arch rivals meet in the early game when the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers play for the first time this season.
The second game of the double header features the youthful Phoenix Suns against San Antonio.
Indiana Pacers at New York Knicks
Thursday, 1 October 2018 at 11:30am at Madison Square Garden, New York
The New York Knicks have had a tumultuous start to the new season, notching just one win from their first six games.
That victory came against the Atlanta Hawks on opening night and since then, New York has lost to Brooklyn, Boston, Milwaukee, Miami and Golden State.
It has been a tough start scheduling wise for the Knicks, but they will be looking to bounce back and stop the rot at home when they host Indiana on Thursday.
The Pacers have enjoyed the confines of their home floor this season, producing dominant wins against Brooklyn and Memphis.
It has been a different story for them on the road, with last Sunday’s 12-point win against Cleveland their first road win of the season after two double digit losses at Milwaukee and Minnesota.
The Pacers are a contender for a top four seed in the Eastern Conference after pushing LeBron James’ Cleveland team to seven games in last season’s playoffs.
The Knicks are in rebuilding mode and are without their best player Kristaps Prozingis as he recovers from injury.
Last season’s series featured three games between these two teams, with Indiana winning twice.
The Pacers lost the only game between the two ball clubs at the Garden 108-101 in November.
On that night Porzingis dropped 40 for the Knicks, who were unstoppable in the second half, overturning a 13-point half time deficit and winning by seven points.
Indiana won by 18 and eight points in their two home games against the Knicks.
The Pacers have won of the league’s best defences in the early stages of the season, conceding just 102.8 points per game. The Knicks rank middle of the pack, conceding 113.2 points per game.
Buckets are harder to come by on the road, so expect the Knicks to keep this one close, but Indiana to should cover a handicap of 5.5-points or less.
Best bet- Indiana Pacers to cover 5.5-point handicap
San Antonio Spurs at Phoenix Suns
Thursday, 1 October 2018 at 1:30pm at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix
The Phoenix Suns get the spotlight of a national audience once again when they host San Antonio on Thursday afternoon.
The Suns have struggled since their opening night win against Dallas, losing five in a row.
Four of those five losses have been by double figures and Monday’s 117-110 loss against Oklahoma City was flattered by the Thunder playing their third string players for much of the final period.
Shooting guard Devin Booker has missed the last two games for Phoenix through injury and his status for this match is questionable.
San Antonio has had an up-and-down campaign so far, going win-loss through its first five games.
Two of their wins have come against the Los Angeles Lakers, with the Spurs 1-1 on the road this season.
The Spurs swept the Suns in four games last season, winning the two games in Phoenix by three points and 48 points.
The Suns and Spurs are two of the poorer defensive teams early in the season, giving up 117.8 and 118.6 points per game this season.
Number one pick Deandre Ayton is playing more than 30 minutes per night in his rookie NBA season and scoring 17.5 points per game.
The Spurs have integrated new shooting guard DeMar DeRozan into their lineup with success, as the former Raptors guard leads the team in scoring at 27.2 points per game.
San Antonio should have no trouble sweeping aside the Suns on Thursday given they play their full compliment of players.
This is not a back-to-back situation for the Spurs and they shouldn’t be resting anyone in light of that. Look for the Spurs to cover any handicap of 6.5-points or less.
Best bet- San Antonio Spurs to cover 6.5-point handicap
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