Friday night features 8 games of NBA action! Let’s take a look at two of the bigger games of the night, easy games for two playoff contenders to fumble and give up a loss. Up first, the Kings will take on the 76ers in Philly. It seems the Kings playoffs hopes are fading quick, but that won’t discourage them from trying to win games. Later, the Trail Blazers will play the Pelicans in New Orleans. The Blazers are looking to gain ground on the Rockets for the 3rd seed in the West.
Game 1: Sacramento Kings (33-34) @ Philadelphia 76ers (43-25)
In the first match, the Kings will visit the 76ers. The Kings did manage to steal the first game against Philadelphia, but that was also before the Tobias Harris trade. After looking like a potential 8th seed in the West, the Kings are 3-8 in their last 11 games. Sitting 5 games behind the 39-30 Clippers, Sacramento needs to win every game if they have any chance of making the playoffs.
The King’s trade for Harrison Barnes may not have panned out perfectly yet, with the Kings going just 5-8 since acquiring the forward. Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox are still playing great, but in the modern NBA, great isn’t good enough. The Kings look a little deflated lately, with playoff chances slimming with each game that passes.
- The Kings are just 3-8 in their last 11 games, with 2 of those wins coming against the worst team in the league, the Knicks.
- Hield’s hot shooting has slowed down a little lately. In the last 5 games, he is scoring 23.8 points, but on 42% shooting from the field and 37% from downtown. These are down from 46% shooting from the field and nearly 44% from three.
- Managed to win against Philadelphia earlier in the season, behind 34 points from Buddy Hield.
- 13-20 in games away from home this season.
The 76ers have been a little inconsistent lately, a large part of that due to Joel Embiid’s injury following the all star break. The 76ers went just 4-4 without Embiid, making them lose the 3rd seed to the Indiana Pacers. Facing mainly road games to finish the season, every home game is crucial for the 76ers to pick up if they want the 3rd seed.
- 2-0 since Joel Embiid’s return from injury. This includes a victory over the Pacers, who recently kicked them out of the 3rd seed. Embiid is averaging 25 points and 15.5 rebounds in the two victories.
- Ben Simmons is probable to play, currently ailed with an illness.
- Jimmy Butler is set to return after resting against Cleveland. Butler is averaging 18.4 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.8 steals since being traded to the 76ers.
- 27-9 at home this season.
Pick: Philadelphia 76ers -9
With the 76ers likely to have the full squad playing tonight, it’s hard to believe they’ll lose to the slumping Kings. This might be an excellent opportunity to pick Sacramento simply on the betting line pointspread alone, but it’s entirely possible for the 76ers to blow this game wide open. Expect the 76ers to win at home, but it’s hard to say if it’ll be by double digits.
Game 2: Portland Trail Blazers (41-26) @ New Orleans Pelicans (30-40)
Ever since the Anthony Davis trade saga drama, the Pelicans have not looked interested in winning basketball games. Davis is participating, but it’s fairly clear he’s just waiting out the season to find a new team. His teammates aren’t fools, and they see no reason to try either. For a Blazers squad hungry to grab the 3rd seed, this is Portland’s game to lose.
With Houston losing to Golden State the other night and OKC dropping a game to Indiana, the opening has widened for Portland to potentially steal the 3rd seed. To do that, they need to win every game, including chippy games like those against the Pelicans. Portland has played well lately, going 8-3 in their last 11, including victories over Golden State, Philadelphia, Boston, and the Clippers.
- CJ McCollum has been on fire the last four games, averaging 28.2 points on 57% shooting from the field and 47% shooting from downtown.
- Won both games played against the Pelicans earlier this season.
- 16-17 on the road this season.
- Ranks 6th in offensive efficiency within the league.
The Pelicans are a mess right now, and don’t have anything to look forward to anytime soon. They have no real shot of making the playoffs, and have plenty of teams that have lost more games than them. The rest of the season doesn’t mean anything to them, but they’ll play it out regardless. Losers of 4 in a row, maybe tonight the Pelicans snap the losing streak.
- Anthony Davis has been largely ineffective the last half of the season. In the last four games, Davis is averaging 16.8 points and 9 rebounds, but still managing to rack up 2.8 blocks and 1.3 steals on 54% shooting in just 21 minutes.
- Julius Randle has stepped up his play lately, averaging 23.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in the last 5 games.
- 18-15 at home this season.
- Ranked 10th in offensive efficiency.
- Anthony Davis has frequently sat out games for rest this season, so he may not even play.
Pick: Portland -7.5
This is a very easy pick. Even if Anthony Davis does play against the Blazers, he’s only been playing right around 21 minutes per game. The Pelicans aren’t trying to win games, but sometimes they do because they have some solid talent on their team. I don’t see Portland winning by less than 8 points tonight. Portland wins in New Orleans.