We are now in the final quarter of the NBA season, and things are getting tight. The Western Conference is still essentially a logjam after the Denver Nuggets with only 8.5 games separating the No. 2 Memphis Grizzlies from the No. 13 Oklahoma City Thunder, and there will be a lot of movement in the Eastern Conference with the Brooklyn Nets continuing their freefall after dealing their two superstars before the trade deadline.
There are only four games scheduled for Thursday, March 2, 2023. Two of those games are essentially duds with neither team having a record above .500, so we are going to focus on the nationally televised tilts between contenders. In the first game of a TNT doubleheader, the Dallas Mavericks are hosting the Philadelphia 76ers. The nightcap will feature the Golden State Warriors taking on the Los Angeles Clippers.
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Philadelphia 76ers at Dallas Mavericks
Although they are on the road here, this is a great matchup for the Philadelphia 76ers. No one on Dallas can deal with the size and strength of Joel Embiid, and these are the moments where Embiid continually shines. Embiid has made himself into a strong MVP candidate, as there is no player that is more physically dominant in the league. He is averaging 33.0 PPG, 10.4 RPG, and 4.1 APG during a terrific season, and he is making over a third of his threes to effectively stretch the floor.
Additionally, James Harden will have a point to prove when facing former teammate Kyrie Irving. Harden is no longer the night-in, night-out scoring threat he once was a few years ago, but he has proven he can carry a team with his ability to dish. He is averaging 21.6 PPG and 10.7 APG while pulling down 6.2 RPG, and he has been able to use an All-Star game snub as motivation.
The way to beat Philadelphia is to run them up and down the court with guards that push the pace, but that isn’t the way Dallas plays. The Mavericks have two guards that excel in the halfcourt in Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving. They don’t like to play with tempo, especially Irving, so that will allow Philly to constantly set up and take it to them with a big interior presence like Embiid. We saw the Los Angeles Lakers erase a 27-point deficit to beat Dallas on Sunday as Anthony Davis and Jarred Vanderbilt comminated on the glass, so I love the Sixers here as an underdog per the NBA betting odds.
Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors
This is a very interesting game between two teams that are just over .500. The Golden State Warriors have one of the most fascinating home/road splits we’ve ever seen in the NBA. The defending champions are 24-7 at home, but they are just 7-23 on the road. Although it’s not time to panic just yet, we are getting close as the four-time champions are dealing with a lot of injuries too. Andre Iguodala has a hip injury that has kept him out since mid-January. Draymond Green is having knee problems once again, and talisman Steph Curry hasn’t played in almost a month either. Andrew Wiggins hasn’t played in more than two weeks either.
Meanwhile, the load management Los Angeles Clippers are hovering around .500 as both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have missed over 15 games. The good news for the Clip Show is that Leonard is looking like the two-way player he did when he was a two-time NBA Finals MVP. Leonard is playing great on both ends of the floor, and the Clips have to be respected as long as he is playing this well.
The problem with the Clips is that they haven’t figured out how to run their bench. That led to them rolling the dice on Russell Westbrook who immediately imploded in two overtime losses. Westbrook’s stat sheet numbers aren’t bad, but that’s the problem with Westbrook at this point in his career. On paper, he can still do a lot for a team, but he has a cantankerous personality that has alienated him from his teammates. Still, the Clippers are the pick here by the NBA betting line given the injury situation for Golden State.