These teams are polar opposites. The Heat have dropped nine straight contests and are 23.5 games off the pace at the bottom of the NBA Southeast, while Houston has won nine straight and is just four games back in the NBA Southwest.
There is also major disparity between how each team is doing against the spread. Miami has covered just twice on its current losing streak, while the Rockets have won against the spread in six of their last seven.
Houston has won and covered in two of its last three meetings against Miami and that trend is likely to continue when they meet on Thursday night.
The Spurs won six of nine games on a difficult road trip ahead of the All-Star break, so Thursday’s road game in Minnesota won’t be too daunting for them. It also helps that Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are ripping it up at the moment.
San Antonio’s big two have averaged 46.8 points and 9.2 rebounds over the last five games, including a massive 46-point performance from Ginobili in the win over Cleveland before the All-Star break.
The last time these teams met, it was Ginobili who did most of the damage. He had 22 points, five rebounds and three assists in a 105-88 Spurs win on Jan. 12. That was San Antonio’s third straight victory over the Wolves and the sixth time in the last seven meetings it covered the spread against them.
Pick: San Antonio
The Sonics managed a home win against the Grizzlies in their first game after the break, despite persistent speculation about the future of the franchise and the absence of their star rookie.
Seattle has been rocked by rumors that the team could be moved to Oklahoma City in the coming months, something that’s bound to have an effect on the players. Meanwhile, one of their biggest stars, Kevin Durant, was sent home ahead of Tuesday’s game with a bout of the flu.
What all that means for Thursday’s clash in Portland is quite simple. Seattle is a franchise under pressure with a star player who is unlikely to be 100 percent, facing a team it has not won or covered against in its last two attempts.
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