On a wild 13-game night that included two overtime games, we made it through the fire with a stellar 10-3 finish (bringing us to 522-267 on the season). Things calm down considerably on Thursday (as they normally do) with just two games featured on TNT, but the competitiveness is one thing that isn’t bound to cool down.
We still have two intense matchups on the schedule, with the Thunder and Bulls squaring off early and the Blazers and Mavericks closing out the night late. Let’s break down both of these intense showdowns and see who we can expect to emerge victorious tonight via out NBA picks for Thursday, 3/5/2015:
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Chicago Bulls
On the surface you might think the Bulls should win this game. They appear to be a more complete team than the Thunder, they’re at home and OKC is a weak 14-19 away from their home court. The Thunder will also be without Kevin Durant, making it easy for anyone to convince themselves that the Bulls could have this one in the bag. Of course, Chicago has their own injury woes to deal with, as Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler are both out until late March and big man Taj Gibson is also out for 1-2 weeks. Add in a torrid run that superstar point guard Russell Westbrook is on, and it’s actually impossible to like the Bulls in this matchup.
OKC has been red hot lately, winning eight of their last 10 and looking like a team no one will want to face in the Western Conference playoffs. Chicago could always hold serve at the United Center tonight, but they don’t currently have a healthy point guard that can slow down Westbrook – let alone stop him. Chicago does have some good post play out of Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah, but with Enes Kanter and Serge Ibaka potentially off-setting them, the favor lies with the Thunder tonight.
Pick: Thunder 107, Bulls 104
Dallas Mavericks @ Portland Trail Blazers
As good as the early game is, this rivalry showdown between the Mavs and Blazers could be even better. Rip City has been fantastic for most of the year and hosts Dallas tonight with a four-game winning streak in play. Dallas has been great on offense but with Tyson Chandler in and out of the lineup they haven’t had much continuity on the defensive end. They’ve also endured spats between head coach Rick Carlisle and point guard Rajon Rondo, as well as an injury from swing man, Chandler Parsons.
The reality is Dallas just isn’t 100% right now and asking them to come into Portland and get a win in a place where the Blazers have lost just six times all year is a little silly. Dallas did steal a nice overtime win in their last showdown, though, and this game is sure to carry a sick offensive punch. Expect a bunch of points and possibly a vintage performance from Dirk Nowitzki to make this one interesting, but the Trail Blazers should still ultimately come out on top.
Pick: Blazers 104, Mavs 102