The dust has settled on a very lively trade period and over half of the teams in the league will be in action this Saturday in the eight game slate, many of them sporting new players. The slate is headlined by a big Eastern Conference clash between the Raptors and Pacers from 12pm before the Jazz host the Trail Blazers in the late game from 2.30pm.
As usual, we have a full preview and betting tips for the key games of the day below.
It will be a new look Detroit team that travels to Oklahoma City on Saturday to take on the Thunder. After an extremely disappointing season so far, it seems as though the Pistons have decided to blow up their team and start fresh after they traded away their star centre, Andre Drummond, at the trade deadline. Drummond was shipped off to Cleveland for Brandon Knight, John Henson and draft picks, leaving the Pistons relying on young prospects to carry them night to night.
The Thunder were one of the prime candidates to make a move at the deadline, however, it seems as though they willl hold firm and attempt to keep their spot in the Western Conference playoffs with their current roster. The Thunder have won their last three games in a row and eight of their last 10, which is matched by only the Clippers in the West.
The Thunder are the best team in the league against the spread, this season, at a whopping 34-17. The Pistons will no doubt take some time to adjust to life without Andre Drummond, so these first few weeks sans the big man could be challenging. The Thunder start as firm favourites but we expect them to cover here.
The Raptors secured one of the all time escapes just last week at home against the Pacers as they came from 19 points down in the 3rd quarter to win the game.The two teams will meet again on Saturday, this time in Indiana, as the Pacers look to get revenge. Indiana currently sit in 5th place in the Eastern Conference with a 31-20 record and are 18-7 at home.
The Raptors have won their last 12 games in a row and have surged into 2nd place in the Eastern Conference. Dominant team play has been the catalyst of the Raptors run, and they have one of the best defences in the league this season, allowing just over 106 points per game.
In fact, both the Raptors and Pacers are ranked inside the top eight teams in the league in terms of points allowed, and their game last week which resulted in 237 points has pushed the total point line for this clash up to 218.5. We think the Pacers putting up 43 in the second quarter of that clash is a bit of an anomoly, so expect this total to be on the lower side given the two good defences.
The Blazers will be on the second night of a back to back on Saturday after they faced the Spurs on Friday. At the time of writing, the game is still in progress, however, the Blazers had won six of their previous games and currently sit in ninth place in the Western Conference. Damian Lillard has been arguably the best player in the league over the past few weeks. The point guard is averaging 44.9 points over his last seven games, five of which have been wins for the Blazers.
The Jazz will have the benefit of the day off between games here, after they hosted the Nuggets in their last game on Thursday. They went down by three points in a low scoring game as the combination of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic were too much for them. Defending the three ball has been a strength for the Jazz this season, currently sitting fifth in 3pt% allowed in the NBA, and that will be a massive factor against Lillard and the Blazers.
The Jazz start as firm favourites at home, but we think 8.5 points a little too high given the Blazers form at the moment. It will no doubt be a low scoring game due to the strong Jazz defence, which is why we can't see them winning by double digits.
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