The NBA has done a fabulous job marketing its sport globally and it's far more popular around the world than the NFL, NHL or Major League Baseball are -- although part of that is basketball is a more universal game, too. But the league's efforts to draw new fans continues with a game in London on Thursday between the Indiana Pacers and Denver Nuggets. The game will mark both teams' first trip to the United Kingdom and the league's seventh regular-season game in London. Not sure why they chose those clubs, but Denver is full of international players. It's technically a home game for the Nuggets. Bettors benefit because it's a rare weekday start time of 3 p.m. ET and will be shown on NBA TV.
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Pacers vs. Nuggets (TBA)
Indiana won a fifth straight game Saturday, 123-109 over the Knicks. The Pacers haven't scored fewer than 111 points in the winning streak. The Pacers used a 14-2 run at the start of the second quarter to pull away from New York. Monta Ellis played wearing a protective face mask for a broken nose suffered last Tuesday at Detroit. Denver has lost five in a row following a 121-106 defeat in Oklahoma City on Saturday. The Nugs have given up at least 121 points in each loss. Emmanuel Mudiay was 0-for-9 and scoreless vs. the Thunder. Indiana has lost seven straight games away from home to Denver for what that's worth.
Key trends: The Pacers are 0-3-1 against the spread in the past four meetings. The "over/under" is 6-0 in Indiana's past six after a win.
Early lean: This is TBA because Denver's Nikola Jokic and Kenneth Faried are battling an illness and questionable, as are Gary Harris (groin) and Danilo Gallinari (ankle).
Pelicans at Nets (TBA)
New Orleans ended a three-game losing streak Monday with a 110-96 win at the Knicks but nearly saw disaster as Anthony Davis was shoved into the crowd on a flagrant foul and eventually left with a bruised hip. He had 40 points and 18 rebounds in less than 30 minutes before going out. Brooklyn dropped its seventh straight Tuesday, 117-97 to Atlanta. The Nets never led. Trevor Booker, the team's leading rebounder, did not play due to a bruised left hip. It wouldn't have mattered. New Orleans swept Brooklyn last year.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The over is 9-1 in the Nets' past 10 vs. teams with a losing record.
Early lean: Wait on Davis.
Bulls at Knicks (TBA)
First of a TNT doubleheader. New York was in Philadelphia on Wednesday and Derrick Rose was back with the team after going AWOL and somehow only fined. I will be very interested to hear the Garden crowd when he's introduced here. Assuming, you know, Rose shows up. Chicago played without Jimmy Butler (illness), Nikola Mirotic (illness) and Dwyane Wade (rest) on Tuesday in Washington and actually hung tough in a 101-99 loss. Rajon Rondo played for the first time since Dec. 30 and had 12 points. He was good enough to likely get back into the rotation. New York won in Rose's return to Chicago on Nov. 4, 117-104. Rose had 15 points and 11 assists while fellow former Bull Joakim Noah had 16 points and nine rebounds.
Key trends: The Bulls are 1-4 ATS in their past five at the Knicks. The over is 7-2-1 in the past 10 meetings.
Early lean: Wait on Butler.
Lakers at Spurs (TBA)
Los Angeles' two-game winning streak ended in a 108-87 home loss to Portland on Tuesday. The Lakers were up two at halftime but were just 5-for-23 shooting in the third. They had just 30 second-half points overall, one fewer than they scored in the second quarter. Luol Deng led the Lakers with 14 points. San Antonio had a three-game winning streak end in a 109-107 home defeat to Milwaukee on Tuesday. Manu Ginobili's 3-point attempt at the buzzer was way off. LaMarcus Aldridge sat it out with a stomach bug. San Antonio won in Los Angeles in the first meeting this season, 116-107 on Nov. 18. The Spurs have won six straight in the series.
Key trends: The Lakers are 3-1-1 ATS in their past five in San Antonio. The over is 5-0 in the past five meetings.
Early lean: Wait on Aldridge.
Mavericks at Suns (-2.5, 203.5)
What, you thought London was the only international game on Thursday's schedule? This one is in Mexico City but not at an unusual time (10 p.m. ET) and will be shown on ESPN. Dallas dropped a third straight Monday, 101-92 in Minnesota. Harrison Barnes scored 30 points for the Mavericks and Dirk Nowitzki had 26, playing more than 30 minutes for the first time this season. Andrew Bogut missed the fourth quarter with an injured hamstring. Phoenix had a rare two-game winning streak snapped in a 120-116 loss to Cleveland on Sunday. Eric Bledsoe scored 31 points and Devin Booker had 28 for the Suns, who were down as many as 22. Phoenix visited Dallas last Thursday and won 102-95 behind 26 points from Bledsoe.
Key trends: The Mavs are 10-4 ATS in their past 14 after a win. The under is 5-1 in the Suns' past six.
Early lean: Suns and under.
Pistons at Warriors (-13, 216)
Second TNT game. Detroit's two-game winning streak ended in a 100-94 loss in Sacramento on Tuesday. The Pistons led by as many as 18 points and were up nine entering the fourth, when they were only 7-for-20 from the field. Andre Drummond had nine points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks but was 1-for-6 from the free-throw line. Golden State won its second consecutive game Tuesday, 107-95 over Miami. Stephen Curry had 24 points, nine assists and eight rebounds on a night the Warriors were rather sluggish and played without Klay Thompson (rest). Golden State won in Detroit 119-113 on Dec. 23 and has taken the past six at home in the series.
Key trends: The Warriors are 0-5 ATS in their past five at home. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Pistons and under.
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