Great news regarding the NBA owners and NBA Players' Association on the new collective bargaining agreement as we will avoid any potential lockout. Apparently the sides have agreed on all the major details of a new deal, and it could be announced within a couple of weeks. Either side can opt out of the current deal by Dec. 15, and if that happened we might be headed for labor trouble next summer. But the NBA is wading in cash with the new TV deals and a surge in popularity. So neither side wants to mess with that.
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Really no major changes are expected that will affect a betting perspective. The preseason will be likely a week or two shorter going forward (games are being cut) and the regular season could start a bit earlier to help alleviate those back-to-backs and three-games-in-four-nights schedules for teams. There will also be two-way contracts allowed with the D-League like the NHL has with the AHL. What there won't be: a change to the college basketball one-and-done rule. NBA commissioner Adam Silver was hoping to make it two years, but he won't put up a fight over that. That's a blow to college hoops, but it's not the NBA's job to improve that product.
Knicks at Wizards (TBA)
Washington was at Philadelphia on Wednesday with Bradley Beal out. John Wall was going to play Wednesday but hasn't been doing back-to-backs yet this season. However, Coach Scott Brooks hinted that Wall might be ready to starting here. If Beal were to play Thursday, Brooks said he would definitely have a minutes restriction. New York hosted Detroit on Wednesday, and I don't think the Knicks have any back-to-back worries but you never know with Derrick Rose or Carmelo Anthony. Washington won two of three meetings last season with the Knicks, going 1-1 at home.
Key trends: The Knicks are 2-7-1 against the spread in the past 10 meetings. The "over/under" has gone over in 13 of Washington's past 18 in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Wait and see on Wall and Beal.
Bucks at Heat (TBA)
Milwaukee was in Atlanta on Wednesday. Miami lost a sixth in a row Tuesday at home vs. Atlanta, 93-90. The Heat haven't scored in triple digits in that streak. Hassan Whiteside scored 19 points and grabbed an NBA season-high 25 rebounds for Miami. As expected, point guard Goran Dragic sat out again with his sprained ankle, and now it appears the Heat are going to be without second-year forward Justise Winslow a while as he has been dealing with a sprained wrist for weeks. Tuesday night's game was the first Winslow has missed this season. He is averaging 11.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 35.9 minutes per game. Milwaukee won the season series last year 2-1 vs. Miami and has won the past three meetings in South Florida.
Key trends: The Bucks are 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings. The under is 5-1 in Miami's past six.
Early lean: Love the under here (!!) and Bucks regardless.
Trail Blazers at Rockets (-3.5, 221.5)
Houston visited Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Portland played probably its worst game of the season on Tuesday, losing 113-88 at home to Chicago. Damian Lillard, who made just two shots from the field in the first half, finished with 19 points. Forward Al-Farouq Aminu missed a third game in a row with a sore left calf and is expected to be re-evaluated next week. Portland and Houston split the 2015-16 season series, 2-2, with each team winning one game on the other team's home court. Portland has won a game in Houston in four of the past six seasons. Lillard averaged 24.5 points vs. the Rockets last year and James Harden 39.5 points vs. the Blazers, the highest scoring average by any player against Portland last season.
Key trends: The Blazers are 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The over is 10-3 in Houston's past 13 in the second of a back-to-back.
Early lean: Blazers and over.
76ers at Timberwolves (TBA)
If you go by last year's records, this might be the worst TNT Thursday night matchup in NBA history. But both of these clubs are loaded with promising young talent, although neither team is playing very well yet. Philadelphia hosted Washington on Wednesday, so that means it's likely Joel Embiid sits this one out. Minnesota lost 115-108 at home to Charlotte on Tuesday. The Wolves turned it over 18 times, leading to 20 Hornets points. Andrew Wiggins had 29 in a losing effort. The Sixers and Wolves split last year. Minnesota has won eight of the past 10 home meetings.
Key trends: The Sixers are 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The under is 6-0 in the previous six in Minnesota.
Early lean: Wolves and under regardless.
Bulls at Jazz (TBA)
The TNT nightcap. Chicago started its six-game Circus Trip with an impressive 25-point win in Portland on Tuesday, the Bulls' third win in a row. Jimmy Butler had 27 points and 12 rebounds. Rajon Rondo sat out with a left ankle sprain. Jerian Grant got the start for him and had 18 points. Utah has been off since a 102-96 home loss to Memphis on Monday. Rodney Hood (illness) and George Hill (thumb) did not play. Derrick Favors left in the fourth quarter with knee soreness, and that bothered him all preseason so he might be out a while. Boris Diaw returned from a right leg contusion after missing eight games. Chicago and Utah split last year, each winning at home. Gordon Hayward averaged 18.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists vs. the Bulls.
Key trends: The home team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under is 5-1 in those.
Early lean: Wait on all those Jazz guys (not so much Rondo), but go under here no matter the number.
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