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NBA Thursday Specials: Wizards to cover, Timberwolves to win

Wed, Oct 18, 11:25am by Staff Writer

The second night of the 2017-18 NBA season is packed with 11 games, headlined by two matches which will be televised live on ESPN.

Philadelphia 76ers at Washington Wizards

Thursday, 19 October 2017, 10am at Capital One Arena, Washington

The Philadelphia 76ers have done a lot of rebuilding over the past three seasons and finally appear poised to make an impact in the Eastern Conference.

The 76ers will welcome rookie Australian point guard Ben Simmons back into their team with open arms, after missing the entire 2016-17 season through injury.

The durability of team captain Joel Embiid will be critical to the 76ers fortunes, with the star centre only playing in 31 games last season.

Although hampered by injury, in 25 minutes per game last season, Embiid averaged a staggering 20.2 points per game. If he can remain on the court, he is a near unstoppable offensive force.

In the 2017 NBA Draft, the 76ers acquired Markelle Fultz with pick one and signed veteran free agent J.J. Redick from the Los Angeles Clippers in the off-season.

The Wizards enter the new season with largely the same roster which took the team to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals last season.

The Wiz will be led by their dynamic backcourt duo of John Wall and Bradley Beal, with their health the key to Washington’s success this season.

In the season opener for both teams, Washington should prove too strong down the stretch, particularly with the proven clutch scoring of Wall and Beal.

Best bet: Washington Wizards to cover 7 point handicap (-7) at $1.95 at Sportsbet

Minnesota Timberwolves at San Antonio Spurs

Thursday, 19 October 2017, 12.30pm at AT&T Centre, San Antonio

What an off-season for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Wolves’ 13-year post-season drought looks set to be broken this season, thanks to some enormous free agent acquisitions during the off-season.

Coach Tom Thibodeau has been reunited with former Chicago Bulls small forward Jimmy Butler, who was traded to the Wolves for Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine.

The Wolves also acquired Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson and Jamal Crawford to boost the veteran presence around star duo Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns.

San Antonio has had a quiet off-season, opting to re-sign Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili and Patty Mills, while acquiring small forward Rudy Gay from the Sacramento Kings.

The Spurs will likely be without Kawhi Leonard on Thursday morning, as he continues to rehab a left quadriceps injury.

Despite being on the road, Minnesota appears to have the advantage in this match-up.

The athleticism of Towns and Wiggins will be too much for San Antonio to handle. Coupled with the crafty play of Jimmy Butler and Jeff Teague, the Spurs may struggle to keep up without Leonard.

Best bet: Minnesota Timberwolves to win at $2.47 at Sportsbet

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