The 2016 NBA All-Star game arrives this weekend and the festivities actually begin on Friday. Naturally, with a full 12-game slate going off on Big NBA Wednesday, many a NBA bettor is looking past Thursday’s small two-game slate. It’s even harder when the games feel like they’re pretty much decided before the teams even hit the court.

At least one of the two seems to be in doubt, though, so it’s worth taking the time and going through the matchups to see if your gut is right in regards to which way you may be betting tonight. With that in mind, let’s take a look at tonight’s slate as we issue our NBA picks for Thursday, 2/11/2016:

Washington Wizards @ Milwaukee Bucks

The Wizards have run all over the Bucks all year, as they head into the Bradley Center tonight with a pretty commanding 3-0 season series lead over the Bucks. As dominant as they’ve been by record, two of the games have been rather closer, with both teams topping 100+ points in both of the close affairs. John Wall has had his way with the Bucks and while Washington’s troubling road record (just 12-11 away from home) doesn’t promote an insane amount of confidence, they’re probably just too much offense for Milwaukee to handle. Greg Monroe and Khris Middleton bring the offense and have been playing well, but may need to be borderline perfect to prevent the 4-0 season series sweep. Milwaukee has struggled overall in their last 10 games (just 3-7), but the silver lining could be that this one is in their own backyard, where they’re a solid 14-8 on the year.

Normally this would be an easy call, and three times this year it was precisely that. Vegas suggests there is something to think about here, as the Wiz have just a -1.5 line. I think we’re in for a third close game and this could be one of those instance where everything clicks for Milwaukee’s offense. Their solid home record, Washington’s mediocre road record and the Wiz’s poor defense (allow 105 points per game) make the Bucks a fun bet tonight.

Pick: Bucks 104, Wizards 102

New Orleans Pelicans @ Oklahoma City Thunder

This is the game no one wants a part of on the New Orleans side, as the Pelicans head into Chesapeake Energy Arena completely banged up. Tyreke Evans and Eric Gordon won’t play and the Pellies’ depth could take another hit with swing man Bryce DeJean-Jones also possibly out tonight. The Pellies certainly have the offense to give the Thunder a run for their money, as Anthony Davis can drop the hammer down on anyone, Ryan Anderson is a strong spark off the bench, Norris Cole has proven to be serviceable and Jrue Holiday has regained his pre-injury form.

It’s definitely debatable if any of that makes the Pelicans a serious threat on the road, where they’ve been a horrendous 6-20 this year. OKC have been dominant on their home floor, too, going a staggering 24-5 at home. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook are a two-man wrecking crew with little stable help around them, but as a whole the Thunder are deadly at home and offensively can fill it up as good as anyone (109 points per game). Against an atrocious New Orleans defense (allowing 105 points per game), it’s very tough to see how that isn’t the case tonight.

The one thing working in New Orleans’ favor is they have won two straight and have the offense to survive a shootout if they start hot. I certainly expect a lot of points and shooting for the Over on the 218.5 Total isn’t crazy, but picking the Pelicans to win straight up is silly and even beating a -12 spread seems a little ambitious. Odds are of the two games tonight, this isn’t the one that goes down to the wire.

Pick: Thunder 113, Pelicans 100

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