Thursday is one of the best days of the NBA regular season as not only does the second half tip off but it's also the day of trade deadline at 3 p.m. ET. It should be an interesting deadline because very few teams have to dump salary due to the salary cap going way up this summer thanks to the new TV deal. Thus, many teams are OK in taking on salary but you aren't likely to see any big names dealt before the deadline like a Blake Griffin or Kevin Love. More likely the big names are traded this summer when teams figure out what all those riches mean around the NBA. The Celtics have been linked to both Griffin and Love. The biggest-name player with might see dealt by Thursday is Houston center Dwight Howard because the Rockets are a mess and Howard is likely to leave as a free agent this summer.
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There were a couple of minor deals on Tuesday: the Pistons acquired Tobias Harris from Orlando for Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova (win for Detroit in my opinion); and a three-teamer between Charlotte, Memphis and Miami in which the Hornets got Courtney Lee from Memphis for PJ Hairston and the Heat got Brian Roberts from the Hornets, with Miami sending Chris Anderson to the Grizzlies (who also got a couple of second-round picks). Nothing earth-shaking there. The Grizz needed a big man with Marc Gasol out for the season a broken foot.
Jazz at Wizards (TBA)
Both these teams have been rumored in deals, with Utah hoping for a point guard upgrade (Atlanta's Jeff Teague?) and the Wizards perhaps looking at Howard or the Pelicans' Ryan Anderson to name two. Utah had a seven-game winning streak end in its final game before the break, 100-96 in New Orleans. It was on the second of a back-to-back for the Jazz, who had played in OT the night before in Dallas. Washington needs to do something to shake up the team. The Wizards lost in Milwaukee 99-92 to close the first half and are currently outside the playoff hunt at 23-28. About the only untouchable on the team is John Wall. This is the first meeting of the season between the teams. They were supposed to play in D.C. on Jan. 23 but it was postponed because of a blizzard.
Key trends: The Jazz are 7-2 against the spread in their past nine road games vs. teams with a losing home record. The Wizards are 2-7 ATS in their past nine at home. The "over/under" has gone under in 11 of Utah's past 14 vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Not really sure why the TBA; Jazz guard Trey Burke missed the final three games before the break with an illness but should be fine by now. He's not really worth a TBA regardless. Burke might be traded by Thursday as well. I like Utah here and expect very low scoring.
Bulls at Cavaliers (-12, 207.5)
First of a TNT doubleheader and will have live betting at sportsbooks. Chicago has been rumored as a seller, not a buyer. Pau Gasol would certainly draw interest around the league if the Bulls were willing to give him up; Gasol is going to be a free agent after the season and the struggling Bulls aren't going anywhere with him. They lost their final four before the break and allowed at least 108 points in each. Chicago remains without the injured Jimmy Butler and Nikola Mirotic, while Taj Gibson is iffy for Thursday with a foot injury. Cleveland wants a long-range shooter, and in an ideal world would somehow get Kyle Korver from Atlanta. The Cavs closed the first half with the East's best record at 38-14 and on a three-game winning streak. The Bulls are 2-0 vs. Cleveland this season, with both low-scoring games.
Key trends: The Bulls are 1-5 ATS in their past six road games. The Cavs are 4-0 ATS in their past four Thursday games. The over is 12-3 in Chicago's past 15 road games. The over is 6-0 in Cleveland's past six following a win. The road team is 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings.
Early lean: Cleveland and over.
Spurs at Clippers (+3, 207.5)
Second TNT game. San Antonio is expected to stand pat at the deadline, while Los Angeles is at least making Griffin available even though he's out at least another month with his broken hand. The Clips reportedly offered him and Lance Stephenson to the Nuggets in exchange for Nikola Jokic, Will Barton, Danilo Gallinari and Kenneth Faried. The Nuggets smartly said no to that. As amazing as Golden State has played, the Spurs are only 3.5 games behind the Warriors in the West. San Antonio closed the first half on a six-game winning streak. Tim Duncan returned from an eight-game injury absence the final game before the break but Tony Parker sat it out. The week off should do both good. This starts a four-game homestand for Los Angeles and is the only visit of the regular season by the Spurs. On Dec. 18, L.A. visited San Antonio and lost 115-107. LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 13 rebounds, and Parker scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter. Chris Paul had 27 points and 10 assists for the Clippers. Paul has been playing really heavy minutes of late (backup Austin Rivers is hurt) so don't be surprised if those start being cut back or Paul gets the occasional night off. Maybe the Clips trade for a backup point guard too.
Key trends: The Spurs are 5-2 ATS in their past seven at the Clippers. The over is 4-1 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: San Antonio and over.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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