On Thursday, the NBA schedule features two games against clubs with high postseason hopes. One club is missing crucial players in the backcourt that might change the outcome of both games.
Is there any change to tonight's odds because of the probable absences of James Harden (personal), Devin Booker (doubtful, foot), and Bradley Beal (doubtful, back)? Let’s get into it.
The 76ers are talented enough to challenge any team on any given day, even without Harden. However, the Bucks have what the Basketball Power Index (BPI) considers to be the most potent offense in the NBA, and they enter this game on such a more optimistic note that I predict them to cover the spread in their home opener.
Without Harden, Maxey must attack more. If Beverley and Tucker start, Joel Embiid, Maxey, and Tobias Harris would provide scoring for the 76ers. Last season, Maxey averaged over 20 PPG and might score more this year. Since Beverley isn't an offensive floor general, Maxey must run the point. In his final preseason game, Maxey started with Beverley and had 11 assists.
Finally, the Bucks moved Jrue Holiday, their greatest perimeter defender, and their main guards, Lillard and Malik Beasley, aren't known for their defense, which could help Maxey's offense.
The Lakers should have too much strength at both ends for the Suns with Booker and Beal sitting. If both sit, Jordan Goodwin, Grayson Allen, Josh Okogie, Kevin Durant, and Jusuf Nurkic start for the Suns.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James are too strong and explosive for a Nurkic-led frontline to halt at the rim. The BPI game predictor agrees with the spread, giving the Lakers a 64.7% chance of winning and the Bucks 63.9%.