The NBA is officially back on Thursday night, as play resumes after a grueling week off during the 2016 All-Star break. Too much time was spent away from the hardwood if you’re a die hard fan or NBA bettor, but luckily the wait ceases tonight.

Tonight provides a tricky slate with just three games, but you may need some assistance with your NBA picks with tonight’s games having the potential to go either way. Let’s break things down and see whch way you may want to be leaning on Thursday:

Chicago Bulls @ Cleveland Cavaliers

This really feels like an easy call, but we might as well lay out all the reasons why. First, Jimmy Butler is out for a few weeks with a knee injury. Right off the bat the Bulls lose 20 points of offense, facilitation, some rebounding and the defensive stopper they’d surely sick on LeBron James. They already have regressed defensively as a whole, and they’re also without big men Joakim Noah and Nikola Mirotic. Taj Gibson is also banged up and Pau Gasol has a huge role but has not been an elite player in two prior meetings with the Cavs. This could turn into the Derrick Rose show thanks to Kyrie Irving’s complete lack of defensive prowess, but he and Gasol can’t do it alone. Michael Dunleavy is back and figures to start tonight, but short of a crazy hot run from outside, he changes nothing.

The other side is that Cleveland is a total menace on their home floor, posting a sick 22-4 mark at Quicken Loans Arena. They come in hot (won three in a row and 8 of their last 10), as well, and after dropping the first two games of this series to Chicago, there is no way they’ll want to lay an egg tonight. It honestly might not even be as close as the -13 line suggests. The Bulls do tend to play up to their level of competition and are fresh coming out of the break, but they’re on the road and extremely under-manned. I’m liking the Cavs straight up and it’s not all that crazy to chase that spread.

Pick: Cavs 106, Bulls 92

San Antonio Spurs @ Los Angeles Clippers

This could be a strong candidate to be the game of the night, but it’s awfully tough to predict being that it’s in Los Angeles at the Staples Center. The Clippers are defintely behind the 8 ball here without Blake Griffin, but they still have CP3, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick. Kawhi Leonard and/or Danny Green should keep Redick largely in check, but if Jamal Crawford can be big off the bench, the Clips could be down for the upset tonight. I definitely think they can keep it interesting and should be able to beat the spread, which is a mild -5 line in favor of the Spurs.

The big thing working for the Clips is Chris Paul has been awesome lately and he and DeAndre Jordan still form a deadly inside/outside duo. L.A. has remained hot with a 7-3 run in their last 10 games, too, while they’ve done well at home (17-8). The other thing is the Spurs have not always been elite on the road, as all eight of their 2015-16 losses have come away from home this year. I don’t think #9 comes tonight, but I think this is a close game and probably high scoring (the previous meeting this year totaled 222 points). That has me liking the Spurs straight up, L.A. to beat the spread and the Over on the 205 Total.

Pick: Spurs 105, Clippers 102

Utah Jazz @ Washington Wizards

This one is by far the closest line of the night, with the home team (Washington) holding a minor -1 edge in what is basically a picke’m. So, who do you trust more? The pedestrian Wizards team that is just 23-28 overall and 11-16 on their own floor, but can run you wild with one of the fastest offenses in the league, or the mediocre 26-26 Jazz, who play at a snail’s pace and boast a stingy defense that allows just 96 points per game? It’s a tough call, but with Washington sporting no obvious edge on their home floor, there is little reason to love them in this matchup. If they push the pace and John Wall penetrates at will and Brad Beal shoots the lights out from deep, sure, they can take down an inferior offense.

But Utah isn’t a respectable 26-26 in the brutal Western Conference because of their offense. They dictate the pace and their bruising inside duo of Derrick Favos and Rudy Gobert limits easy buckets and makes you beat them with crazy shooting nights. Thanks to a startling lack of consistency, I can’t trust the Wizards. A big game from Rodney Hood or Gordon Hayward could be enough to push Utah over the top in what Vegas suggests will be a low scoring, tight game. I’ll take the under on the points (197) and give me Utah straight up and ATS.

Pick: Jazz 96, Wizards 94

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