ESPN ushers in the return of the NBA after the All-Star break with two matchups that could frankly use a little more regular season seasoning before being served, but here we are.
Out east, the Heat visit Milwaukee in what could be a spicy first round matchup in April. The Bucks are most likely without Giannis Antetokounmpo for the start of the home stretch as he recovers from a wrist sprain last week. However, they’ll be getting back big man Bobby Portis and the recently acquired Jae Crowder to pair with Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and Jrue Holiday. After agreeing to a buyout with the Cavaliers, Kevin Love joins a Heat team half a game out of the top-6 spot in the conference with a need for front court depth. Veteran point guard Kyle Lowry remains out for at least another week with his troublesome left knee.
In the valley of the sun, Phoenix awaits the return of Kevin Durant after a blockbuster trade with the Nets netted the two-time 34-year-old Finals MVP. The Suns will face a Thunder team on the other end of the age spectrum but just three games behind them in the tight Western Conference. Oklahoma City has won 13 of their last 19 games and could make the playoffs for the first time in three years. First time All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Rising Stars Josh Giddey and Jalen Williams have kept the Thunder relevant with the fifth best offense in their last fifteen games (113.9 points per 100 possessions).
We won’t really know how good either team is until all their players are either healthy and/or worked into the rotation, but there is a juicy matchup between two point guards out west who have been fairly consistent all year. Despite missing over twenty games this season, Chris Paul has been his solid self for the Suns, averaging 13.7 points and 9.1 assists per game. His protege, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, has blossomed into an All-Star after spending a season with CP3 in OKC and is averaging 31 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists. SGA is questionable tonight with right ankle soreness. However, his teammate, Josh Giddey, has been a triple-double threat all year. Our friends at DraftKings have this spicy quick single game parlay: if the Australian point guard registers a triple double tonight and the Thunder win on the moneyline, DraftKings are giving +1700. More like Gosh I’m Giddey, amiright?