After a couple of winners last week Ben Steele previews tonight's NBA action, including a battle between two of the best Centers in the league...
"Kawhi Leonard scored 22 points on Monday night, the first time he hadn't scored at least 30 since the 4th January and he'll look to continue his best run of form of the season."
Dallas hoping to cope without Doncic
Memphis Grizzlies @ Dallas Mavericks
Thursday 01:30 GMT
This time last week the Memphis Grizzlies trip to Dallas would have been touted as a matchup between two of the best young point guards in the league. Ja Morant and Luka Doncic were all set for a potential blockbuster but unfortunately, Doncic suffered an ankle injury that will keep the Dallas man out of the game. However, despite Doncic leading the Mavs in multiple statistical categories, Dallas have coped well without their star, winning their last two games. Latvian power forward/center Kristaps Porzingis stepped up last time out, registering 38 points and 12 rebounds against the Indiana Pacers in a handy victory against a side with a similar style to tonight's opponents.
Both the Pacers and Grizzlies lack a true star, although Morant is making his case, and rely on their defensive abilities to succeed. Jonas Valanciunas is an exceptional rebounder, while Jaren Jackson has blocked 11 shots in his last three games. Despite Doncic's absence I expect Dallas to win, but backing Memphis and their defence to cover the spread is worth a look.
Centers clash in Utah
Denver Nuggets @ Utah Jazz
Thursday 02:00 GMT
A true battle of the big men as pair of Western Conference contenders face of in Utah tonight. With the Denver Nuggets battling a couple of key injuries Nikola Jovic is absolutely crucial to his side's chances. Last time out, in Detroit, he post a 39-point triple-double and still ended up on the losing side and tonight he faces Utah's Rudy Gobert; the winner of defensive player of the year in 2018 and 2019.
These two sides played each other just five days ago, and Jovic got the better of Gobert in a 106-100 Denver win. Jovic registered 28 points and 10 assists, and I expect tonight's game to follow a similar pattern. If Gobert can keep his opposite number in check it will be very difficult for Denver to have a chance, look for Jovic to draw the focus of Utah's defence as they pick up their 19th home win of the season.
Clippers stars see them past Miami
Miami Heat @ Los Angeles Clippers
Thursday 03:10 GMT
The Miami Heat travel to LA to face the Clippers and their star-studded lineup. Kawhi Leonard scored 22 points on Monday night, the first time he hadn't scored at least 30 since the 4th January and he'll look to continue his best run of form of the season. Leonard, the reigning Finals MVP, is supported by Lou Williams and Paul George who have contributed well in recent weeks as the Clippers continue to hunt down the Lakers in the race for top seed in the West.
Miami's main threat is Jimmy Butler, who scored 38 points in a dominant victory over the Philadelphia 76ers, a team Miami have had no trouble against this term. Unfortuantely for Butler, tonight's game is in Los Angeles rather than Miami, where the Heat have been close to unstoppable. Miami's 34-15 record is propped up by a 22 wins and just three losses at home but have struggled to replicate that form on the road. Look for Leonard and his supporting cast to benefit from the Heat's inability to win away from home.
Ben Steele NBA: P/L
Staked: 50 pts
Returned: 53.7 pts
P/L: +3.7 pts