Wed, Jan 31, 11:30am by Staff Writer
With the 2017-18 NBA All Star break rapidly approaching, teams contending for playoff positions see this as a crucial period where their season’s can be defined.
With the NBA’s trade deadline on February 8, teams in contention will be looking to make moves that will define their franchises for years to come.
One blockbuster trade which has just been made hours ago was the move of Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin from the Clippers to the Detroit Pistons.
L.A. just signed Griffin to a 5-year extension this past off-season, but have traded their franchise cornerstone for Avery Bradley, Tobias Harris, Boban Marjinovic and a number of protected draft picks.
The move gives the Clippers more flexibility in the upcoming off-season, where a number of talented players are free agents, including LeBron James.
We preview two matches on this week’s NBA Thursday. The first involves the surging Miami Heat visiting the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The second is the Chicago Bulls visiting the Portland Trailblazers.
Miami Heat at Cleveland Cavaliers
Thursday, 1 February 2018 at 12pm AEDST
The Cleveland Cavaliers (29-19) have steadied themselves with two consecutive victories after going 2-6 in their previous eight games.
Despite welcoming back point guard Isaiah Thomas from injury, the Cavs have been marred by horrible defense and talks of a rift within the team.
It would be unsurprising if the Cavs made a move before next week’s trade deadline, as they are far behind the Western Conference leading Golden State Warriors. They also sit third in the East behind Boston and Toronto.
The Miami Heat have been a pleasant surprises, particularly in the past eight weeks.
The Heat have gone 6-4 in their past 10 games, after hovering around 0.500 for much of the season.
Miami are now 28-21 and have been propelled by the hot shooting of bench guard Wayne Ellington.
The loss of Dion Waiters to injury for the season has done little to curtail the Heat’s momentum as they battle for a top four seed in the East.
In their only previous meeting this season, the Cavs beat the Heat 108-97 in Cleveland.
Cleveland will start this match as favourites, but we fancy a bet on Miami at the plus handicap, or even the Heat to win the match if the odds are greater than $3.
Best bet- Miami Heat to cover the plus handicap or win at greater than $3
Chicago Bulls at Portland Trailblazers
Thursday, 1 February 2018 at 2pm AEDST
The surging Portland Trailblazers host the Chicago Bulls on Thursday afternoon in the Bulls only visit to the Moda Center.
The Blazers (27-22) are winners of five of their past six matches and are in 7th spot in the West, 3.5 games behind the 4th placed Wolves and 12.5 games behind the conference leading Golden State Warriors.
Portland are an intriguing team and there have been rumours that point guard Damien Lillard has spoken with owner Paul Allen about making moves during free agency.
As it stands, the Blazers are a playoff team and with the lack of depth in the West should make the playoffs, but they would be fortunate to make it past the first round.
A blockbuster trade involving shooting guard C.J. McCollum would not be without question as anyone on the Blazers roster besides Lilllard is seen as trade bait.
The Chicago Bulls had a poor start to the 2017-18 season, before some very good results at the turn of the New Year.
The Bulls have now lost five of their past six matches and embark on a three-game road trip that will see them play Portland, the Clippers and Sacramento.
After a poor run of form at home that included losing five consecutive games, Portland are a strong 14-10 at home.
The Bulls are eight games behind 8th seeded Philadelphia in the East and are playing for pride at this stage of their season.
When these two teams met on New Years Day this year, it was the Blazers who were victorious 124-120 in overtime.
We expect the same result on Thursday, with the Blazers winning by double digits.
Best bet- Portland to win by double digits
*Sportsbet odds will be posted when they become available
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