Tue, Dec 12, 12:01pm by Staff Writer
The 2017-18 NBA season is in full swing, with a few teams from each conference beginning to set themselves apart from the rest.
In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics (23-5) continue to be the benchmark, with the Toronto Raptors (17-7) and Cleveland Cavaliers (19-8) not far away.
In the Western Conference, an ankle injury to Steph Curry has ruled him out for two weeks, with Golden State winning all of their matches so far without their All Star point guard.
The Warriors (21-6) are second behind the Houston Rockets (20-4) in the Western Conference, with San Antonio (19-8) also performing strongly, with key player Kawhi Leonard expected to return this week.
ESPN Australia features two matches on Thursday afternoon, with Indiana hosting Oklahoma City and Houston hosting Charlotte.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Indiana Pacers
Thursday, 14 December 2017 at 11am AEDST
A grudge match kicks off the Thursday slate, with Paul George returning to Indiana to face his former team the Pacers.
The Pacers have enjoyed a terrific season so far, going 10-4 at home and winning their last four matches.
The same cannot be said for the Thunder, who have been terrible. Oklahoma City sit in ninth position in the Western Conference at 12-13. They are only 3-10 on the road this season and have struggled in all of their road fixtures.
Paul George has missed the past few games for the Thunder through injury, but is expected to play on Thursday.
The trio of George, Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony has failed to fire yet, with the Thunder expected to contend for the Western Conference at the beginning of the season.
Conversely, Indiana is over-achieving. Paul George was traded for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis, two players who are having career-best seasons with the Pacers.
In what will be an emotional and highly charged Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, all signs point towards a Pacers victory against an inconsistent Thunder team.
Best bet- Indiana Pacers to cover the handicap at Sportsbet
Charlotte Hornets at Houston Rockets
Thursday, 14 December 2017 at 1.30pm AEDST
The Houston Rockets juggernaut continues to roll on, regardless of whether the team plays at home or on the road.
The Rockets have a better road record (12-1) than they do at home (8-3), but they will welcome a home game against a poor Charlotte team.
The Hornets (9-16) have struggled all season long and recently lost a back-to-back home set against the Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers.
Charlotte will be without head coach Steve Clifford for the foreseeable future after he has taken medical absence.
Under interim head coach Stephen Silas, the Hornets are 0-3. They will be making the trip to Houston to face the hottest offensive team in the league and things might get ugly for the Hornets.
Charlotte is a woeful 1-10 on the road this season and have lost games to some of the league’s poorest teams on the road.
Houston is unrelenting and show no mercy on teams even when they are up double digits late in games.
James Harden is playing on another level this season, one which is he tipped to finally win the leagues Most Value Player award.
It would be a surprise if Houston didn’t win this match by at least 10 points.
Best bet- Houston Big Win Little Win 11+ or Houston at the handicap, whichever offers the better value.
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