NBA Tips: Doncic wins battle of rising stars in Dallas

New Orleans Pelicans
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks should continue their Eastern Conference dominance

Two of the NBA's newest stars face off in a game that could help decide the Western Conference playoff race. Ben Steele previews the best of tonight's action...

"The Slovenian star has averaged 28 points, 11.3 rebounds and eight assists against the Pelicans this term as Dallas have won all three games. I expect Dallas to come out victorious, led by Doncic but Williamson will shine again."

Bucks tighten grip on the East

Indiana Pacers @ Milwaukee Bucks
Thursday 00:10 GMT

The Milwaukee Bucks are the first, and so far only, team to have secured a playoff spot and are heavy favourites to be the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. Tonight's game against the Indiana Pacers should only strengthen their position, particularly given their outstanding home form. Led by MVP frontrunner Giannis Antetokounmpo the Bucks are 27-3 in home games this season, a record only bettered by the Philadelphia 76ers, and have dominated Indiana twice already this season.

The Pacers beat a Bucks side without Giannis last time out but in the two games that Milwaukee have had their star man available the Bucks have had absolutely no trouble with Indiana. Victories by 19 and 28 points showed the difference in class, and I expect that gulf to continue. The Pacers have done a good job of containing Antetokounmpo so he may have a quiet night but the Bucks will be very surprised if they don't win.

Injury hit Knicks will struggle to contain Jazz

Utah Jazz @ New York Knicks
Thursday 00:40 GMT

The New York Knicks are 19-42 and battling for any semblance of relevance yet again. They have a young, fun side featuring the likes of Elfrid Payton, Mitchell Robinson and RJ Barrett but what they have in entertainment they lack in consistency, and that is what will hold them back in tonight's game against the Utah Jazz. The visiting side have Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic scoring at a good level and Rudy Gobert continuing his outstanding defensive play.

With that in mind, you have to expect a repeat of Utah's comfortable win when these two sides played in January. However, the Knicks have scored impressively in previous games so I'm looking for New York to serve up another entertaining game, even if they do ultimately lose the game.

Zion hoping to stop Dallas sweep

New Orleans Pelicans @ Dallas Mavericks
Thursday 02:40 GMT

The final game of the day is a mouthwatering matchup between one of the most hyped rookies in recent memory, Zion Williamson, and bona fide superstar Luka Doncic. Williamson's New Orleans Pelicans still have an outside chance of making the playoffs and the 19-year-old's return from injury has been the catalyst for the late season charge. Not only has he become a prominent scoring option, to take the load off Brandon Ingram, he has formed an instant connection with point guard Lonzo Ball that has helped make the Pelicans a much more efficient offensive outfit.

A feature of the rookie's career so far has been his ability to answer the challenge of other star names, most notably LeBron James with both Pelicans games against the Lakers turning in to a straight shootout between the two men. Tonight he will face Luka Doncic, who has dominated New Orleans this season. The Slovenian star has averaged 28 points, 11.3 rebounds and eight assists against the Pelicans this term as Dallas have won all three games. I expect Dallas to come out victorious, led by Doncic but Williamson will shine again.

Ben Steele NBA: P/L

Staked: 62 pts
Returned: 66.9 pts
P/L: +4.9 pts

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