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NBA Thursday Specials: Celtics and Thunder our picks

Wed, Jan 3, 10:43am by Staff Writer

A blockbuster match between two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference headlines ESPN’s NBA double-header this Thursday.

The defending Eastern Conference champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers will visit the Boston Celtics in a rematch of last season’s conference finals.

In the second match on ESPN, the Oklahoma City Thunder visit the Los Angeles Lakers.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics

Thursday, 4 January 2018 at 12pm AEDST

The Cavaliers recent three game road trip was one to forget, as they lost to the Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz.

After winning 13 straight games during November and December, the Cavs have lost four of their last five.

Point guard and former Boston Celtic Isaiah Thomas is expected to return to the Cavs lineup on Wednesday when the team hosts the Portland Trailblazers.

Cavs coach Tyrone Lue has said that Thomas won’t be playing in back-to-backs, which means he will miss the trip to Boston, a return to the TD Garden where he was electric last season.

The Boston Celtics have won three in a row, including a last gasp 99-98 miracle win against the Houston Rockets last week.

At 30-10, the Celtics own the best record in the East by some margin, ahead of the 24-10 Toronto Raptors and 24-12 Cleveland Cavaliers

The Celtics have come back from 22 and 26-point deficits against the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets at home this season, so no lead is safe for the Cavs, as the Celtics have shown tremendous resilience all season.

The home court advantage at the TD Garden will be immense for Boston, as they look for four straight wins and revenge for their series loss in last season’s Eastern Conference Finals.

The Cavs will be on a back-to-back and haven’t been at their best over the past fortnight.

Best bet- Boston Celtics to win at Sportsbet

Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers

Thursday, 4 January 2018 at 2.30pm AEDST

The Oklahoma City Thunder have shot up the standings in the Western Conference, owning a 20-17 mark.

The Thunder were winners of eight of their past nine matches before a two game home losing skid the Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks.

With Paul George, Carmelo Anthony and Russell Westbrook finally seeming to click, the Thunder look to be a contender in the Western Conference.

Oklahoma City’s bench remains a concern, especially when all three of George, Anthony and Westbrook rest, usually at the start of the second and fourth quarters.

The Los Angeles Lakers have sorely missed point guard Lonzo Ball who has been absent through injury, losing their last six matches.

With nobody to run their offence, the Lakers have taken poor shots, turned the ball over excessively and conceded big scores.

Also missing centre Brook Lopez has forced veteran Andrew Bogut into the starting lineup.

Whilst possessing exquisite passing skill, Bogut lacks the speed necessary for the modern game and has been a defensive vulnerability when he has been on the floor.

The Thunder possess too many weapons and should easily account for the Lakers who have been blown out by the Timberwolves, Grizzlies and Clippers over the past fortnight.

Best bet- Thunder to win and cover any handicap between 0 and -7 points at Sportsbet 

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