For most of us, the sports weekend begins on Friday night, which is where we are going here to take a quick look at a pair of games on the NBA schedule. The games that we are focusing on can be seen as a doubleheader on ESPN, so be prepared to get your wagers on and settle in for the night.
The first game will see the Indiana Pacers on the road in New York to face the Knicks, while the late game will see the Lakers continue to try and get some wins without LeBron James in the line-up. The Lakers will be in Utah to face the Jazz. Let’s take a closer look at these two match-ups.
Indiana Pacers (27-14) at New York Knicks (10-31)
The Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors have been taking turns at the top of the Eastern Conference over the past few weeks, but tucked in right behind those teams, almost unnoticed, are the Indiana Pacers. They have an impressive 27-13, record, which includes being 13-9 on the road, and while they are coming off a loss their last gamer out, they are still a very healthy 7-3 in their last 10 games. They have already beaten the Knicks twice this season, which means that they have now won 4 in a row versus New York, a run that stretches back to last season.
It is yet another season of disappointment for the Knicks, as they find themselves second bottom in the Eastern Conference with just 10 wins on the year. They have been maintaining that poor pace all season long and are just 1-9 in their last 10 games. They are a woeful 3-17 versus teams with a winning record, and with 4 straight losses at the hands of the Pacers, I find it tough to see any way in which the Knicks can come out and get the win here.
The Pacers will be looking to bounce back after a thumping at the hands of the Celtics, and they should get that win here.
Predicted Score: Indiana Pacers 109 | New York Knicks 101
Los Angeles Lakers (23-19) at Utah Jazz (21-21)
This was supposed to be the day that LeBron James returned from injury, but the most recent reports suggest that it could be another month before he makes his return. That is bad news for a Lakers team that are just 2-5 without King James in the line-up, a run that has seen them drop all the way down to the #8 seed in the Western Conference. The Lakers did beat the Jazz earlier this season with James in the line-up, but they had lost 7 straight to Utah prior to that.
The Utah Jazz are sitting just below the playoff line in the Western Conference, but with the Lakers struggling right now, they will almost certainly see that as their opportunity to play catch-up. They are two games below the line at the moment and have gone 6-4 in their last 10 games. A win here would not move them up at all, but it would put them over .500 for the season, which would be a positive step in the right direction. The Jazz are 9-8 at home this season, but they are 8-14 against teams with a winning record.
The Jazz need to take advantage of the Lakers without LeBron, which is exactly what I believe they will do on Friday night.
Predicted Score: Los Angeles Lakers 103 | Utah Jazz 106
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