A busy day in the NBA as the league prepares for the All-Star Game at the weekend. Ben Steele previews the final games before the break.
"Jokic and Davis will be teammates in the All-Star game and I expect them to go shot for shot tonight. I'm backing both men to have high scoring games in an entertaining battle."
Beal and Bertans too much for Knicks
Washington Wizards @ New York Knicks
Thursday 00:40 GMT
The Washington Wizards come in to the All-Star break with a decent shot at the playoffs, and tonight's game with the New York Knicks is a good chance for them to close the game on the Eastern Conference seeds. Guard Bradley Beal is the key man for Washington, he has scored 25 points or more in 11 straight games and topped 30 points in eight of those games. The 26-year-old has contributed effectively in almost every statistical category during this run and has been ably supported by forward Davis Bertans, a talented 3-point shooter who helps to stretch the floor.
Beal and Bertans will go head to head with Elfrid Payton of the Knicks who is beginning to show why he was a Top 10 pick in the 2014 draft. Payton has always been a talented defender, but is now starting to add to his passing game. Throughout 2020 Payton has spread the ball around nicely, giving his teammates opportunities to score on a regular basis. However, despite Payton's best efforts I expect Beal and the Wizards to leave New York with a win.
Raptors looking for season sweep
Toronto Raptors @ Brooklyn Nets
Thursday 00:40 GMT
The Toronto Raptors are in red hot form and the Brooklyn Nets look set to be the next team to fall to the men from Canada. Toronto are a well balanced side, who since the departure of Kawhi Leonard in the offseason have spread the ball, relying on a team first ethic which has served them really well in recent weeks. Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam have led the team on a 15-game winning streak that should extend to 16 if the history books teach us anything.
Toronto are 3-0 against Brooklyn this season, comfortably winning two and surviving a Caris Levert inspired comeback in their most recent matchup. Levert is an inconsistent shooter, and with Kyrie Irving missing through injury the Nets could well struggle against the red hot Raptors. Look for Toronto to cover the spread in a comfortable win.
AD and Jokic hold the key in Denver
Los Angeles Lakers @ Denver Nuggets
Thursday 03:10 GMT
The marquee matchup of tonight's game sees the two best teams in the Western Conference go head to head. The Los Angeles Lakers boast a pair off All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis who have been excellent all season while the Denver Nuggets have Nikola Jokic representing them in Chicago at the weekend. Jokic, who started the season slowly, leads the Nuggets in most statistical categories and if his side are going to have success tonight he will need to be at his best.
Davis has been in good form in February, averaging 26.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game, as he continues to cement himself as one of the best and most versatile big men in the NBA. Jokic and Davis will be teammates in the All-Star game and I expect them to go shot for shot tonight. I'm backing both men to have high scoring games in an entertaining battle.
Ben Steele NBA: P/L
Staked: 53 pts
Returned: 55.7 pts
P/L: +2.7 pts