After a long but thrilling year, the 2018-19 NBA regular season finally draws to a close this Thursday (AEST). Some playoffs seedings will still be up for grabs in the final day of play, with a monster 11 game slate on the cards.
NBA legends Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki will play the final games of their respective careers and we have a betting preview for some of the key games of the day below.
With the Thunder wining on Wednesday against the Rockets, twp teams remain deadlocked at 47-34 in the seventh and eighth seeds in the Western Conference. The final day of play will be crucial for the Spurs and Clipeers as they will be trying to avoid landing in the eighth seed and having to play the Golden State Warriors in the first round of playoffs. We’ll be taking a look at those two teams’ games and giving our betting tips below.
The Dallas Mavericks will wave goodbye to an all-time legend of the game on Thursday as Dirk Nowitzki plays his final game. Dirk had a season high 30 points in the win over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday and should be the main attraction once again in San Antonio on Thursday. While the game doesn’t mean much to Dallas apart from giving Nowitzki a great send off, it means a great deal to their opponents.
The Spurs will be attempting to avoid the Warriors in the first round of playoffs and to do so, they will just need to win this match. They already hold the tiebreaker over the Clippers, so even if both teams win, the Spurs will finish higher. The Spurs have one of the best home records in the NBA this season at 31-9, bettered only by the Nuggets, Raptors and Bucks.
It might be Dirk’s last game, but it’s impossible to see the Spurs losing this game, especially at home. The Mavericks will likely be more focused on getting their retiring star the ball rather than actually winning the game and the Spurs should capitalise.
After a fantastic win against the Rockets at home on Wednesday, the Thunder can rest a little easier knowing they have a one game advantage on the Spurs and Clippers. They’ll be on the road on Thursday, but luckily, they’ll be playing against a Milwaukee team that really has no incentive to risk their star players in the final game of the season.
The Bucks have a 2.5 game lead over their nearest rivals in the Eastern Conference and have also already locked up the best record in the entire NBA, ensuring that they’ll have home court advantage for as long as they remain in the playoffs.
Giannis Antetokounmpo will likely be rested once again on Thursday and a host of other players are currently sitting out for the Bucks in an attempt to recover from niggles leading into the playoffs. Pat Connaughton, Tony Snell, Brook Lopez, Nikola Mirotic, Donte DiVencenzo, Pau Gasol and Malcolm Brogdon have all missed games over the last week and won’t be risked on Thursday. Back the Thunder to win this one comfortably.
In the final meaningful game of the day in the Western Conference, the Utah Jazz will travel to Los Angeles to take on the Clippers. With a win against Denver on Wednesday, the Jazz locked in the 5th seed and a Portland win over the Lakers later in the day ended any chances of the Jazz claiming the fourth seed. The Jazz will likely give some players one day of much needed rest before the playoff campaign begins on Sunday so key players Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Joe Ingles could join the likes of Kyle Korver and Ricky Rubio who are already sidelined through injury/management.
The Clippers will need a win at home on Thursday to give themselves a chance at avoiding the eight seed but should have a full contingent of players to call upon with Danilo Gallinari and Lou Williams recovering from niggles.
The Clippers start as 6.5 point favourites here, which we think is a little low considering the potential starting lineup that we could see Utah trot out in what will be a dead rubber for them away from home.
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