The NBA continues its fun in the bubble this Friday with six matchups on another full day of action as the battle for playoff seeding continues. The fantasy basketball action and Sportsbook slates are focused on the final five games of the day, which means the main contests start at 4:00 p.m. ET.
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Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies: Game Result
The Grizzlies had lots of hope at the beginning of the restart, sitting in the No. 8 spot and with a fun, young team to watch. However, things have not gone well for Memphis, who have dropped four straight and more importantly have lost Jaren Jackson Jr. for the season to a knee injury. The Thunder and Grizz split their two meetings before the COVID-19 stoppage, but OKC has been the vastly better team since the restart and even knocked off the Lakers on Wednesday. I don’t expect a letdown from OKC even though they won’t have Dennis Schroder (personal), who is away from the team. Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should be enough to carry OKC past the Grizzlies in this one.
Choice: Oklahoma City Thunder
Sacramento Kings vs. Brooklyn Nets: Game Result
The Nets have a chance to clinch a playoff spot as they take on the Kings at 5 p.m. ET. The Nets have gone 2-2 in the bubble with a pair of ugly, one-sided losses along with a pair of solid wins over Washington and Milwaukee (yeah, you read that right, they beat the Bucks). Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and Joe Harris all missed that shocking upset of the Bucks but returned for Brooklyn’s game against the Celtics, which they lost by 34 in their first chance to wrap up a playoff berth. They’ll get another shot against the Kings, who are 1-3 in the bubble and still have a chance at getting into the playoffs if they get a move on. They’ll need to climb over Portland, Phoenix and San Antonio, as all those teams are chasing the Grizzlies, who are in the No. 8 seed at the start of play Friday. The Kings are coming off a nice win over the Pelicans but have a tough schedule ahead, so they seem like a long-shot to climb into a potential play-in series. The Nets are short-handed and would like to wrap a playoff spot up, so I think they’ll take care of business in this one against the Kings on the second day of back-to-back games.
Choice: Brooklyn Nets
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Orlando Magic vs. Philadelphia 76ers: Game Result
The Sixers will be without Ben Simmons (knee), who is out indefinitely after partially dislocating his knee cap on Wednesday. While Simmons’ overall status moving forward is still unknown, he will definitely miss this contest, which means Philly will be relying heavily on Joel Embiid to carry the offense. They have gone 2-1 in the bubble but have looked a little bit lost, especially on defense, giving up over 40 points in the fourth quarter in two of those games. Orlando has also had injury issues inside the bubble with Jonathan Isaac (knee) out of the rest of the season and Aaron Gordon (hamstring) also uncertain for this contest. The Magic are 2-2 in the bubble and on the verge of clinching a playoff spot. They beat the Sixers each of the two times they faced them before the stoppage, and have looked more focused since the restart especially defensively. The loss of Simmons could galvanize the Sixers and make them a scrappy bunch or completely derail them. Given the way they’ve played especially late in their previous bubble contests, I’m not in on them making a run in the playoffs or even getting this win against Orlando.
Choice: Orlando Magic
Washington Wizards vs. New Orleans Pelicans: Game Result
Both the Magic and the Nets are cheering for the Pelicans in this one since Washington’s next loss will greatly improve their playoff chances if not lock it up for both teams. The Wizards have been without Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans, their two leading scorers, in the bubble and have gone 0-4 since the restart. New Orleans is in that tight battle for the No. 8 seed and play-in series in the West, and they can’t afford to slip up here. They lost to the Kings Thursday and are just 1-3 since the restart, but they also have a much better and deeper roster than Washington and should get the win in this one.
Choice: New Orleans Pelicans
Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors: Game Result
In the marquee matchup of the day, the defending champs take on the Celtics as Toronto tries to wrap up the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Raptors have won seven straight overall and have gone 3-0 since the restart, relying on great defense to hold opponents below 100 points in two of their three wins. Boston’s offense could be the toughest test they have faced, though, since they have averaged 138.5 in their two wins since returning to action. Boston hasn’t been quite as consistent as Toronto, but they should be able to challenge Toronto when at their best. Kemba Walker is expected to play in this one after resting Boston’s previous contest, so we should get a good look at what could be a playoff matchup between the No. 2 and the No. 3 seeds in the East. While I like the Celtics upside, the Raptors have been too consistent to pick against at this point.
Choice: Toronto Raptors
Which team will score the most points in this group of teams on August 7?
The choices here are the Pelicans, Celtics, Raptors, Thunder, 76ers and Grizzlies. I think we can take Boston and Toronto off the board right away since that will be more of a defense-first game. The Sixers and Grizzlies won’t be at full strength, so I’ll pass on them as well, leaving me with the Pelicans and the Thunder. Since New Orleans is coming off a bad loss and needs to make a statement against the lowly Wizards, I’ll go with Zion and Co. to pour it on and score the most points of this group on the day.
Choice: New Orleans Pelicans
Who will score the most points in this group of players on August 7?
As usual with these bubble slates, there is plenty of star power lined up for the day. Since he’ll have to do the heavy-lifting for his squad with Ben Simmons out, I’m going with Joel Embiid in this group although Chris Paul and Jayson Tatum are also intriguing. Since the restart, Embiid has put up 41, 30 and 27 points, respectively, and should get heavy usage for as long as Simmons is sidelined.
Choice: Joel Embiid
Who will have more Points and Assists on August 7?
Zion Williamson is going head-to-head in this pick with Ja Morant of the Grizzlies. Morant has posted 33, 34, 19, and 29 points and assists in his four games since the restart, while Williamson has had 14, 7, 28 and 26. When you add in the fact that Williamson is playing for the second day in a row and may not be ready for a full workload yet, Morant becomes the clear pick, and the fact that the secondary stat is assists not rebounds slants things even more in his favor. Morant has played at least 37 minutes in all four of Memphis’s games since the restart and has heavy usage in each contest.
Choice: Ja Morant
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