NBA Trade deadline under the radar

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Understandably lost over the past week and a half following the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and the many tributes that followed has been the impending trade deadline that is Noon Pacific time this Thursday.

Among the key players reportedly being discussed are Andre Drummond of Detroit, Kevin Love of Cleveland and Memphis’ Andre Iguodala. Both the Pistons and Cavaliers are not in the playoff picture in the East. Memphis is currently seeded eighth in the West but Iguodala has not played for the Grizzlies all season, unhappy after being traded from Golden State over the summer.

Memphis’ rise has been keyed by rookie Ja Morant and a trade of Iggy for a player who can contribute immediately might help Memphis hold on to their playoff spot and ward off challengers Portland and San Antonio.

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Currently, the top seven teams in the West are playing .600 or better ball with just five games separating the second-seeded Clippers from seventh seeded Oklahoma City. The acquisition of one proven veteran player can improve a team’s chances for moving up in the standings with just over 30 games still to be played.

In the East, there is an eight-game gap between sixth-seeded Philadelphia and seventh-seeded Brooklyn. But the difference is only 5.5 games between the Sixers and second-seeded Toronto. The top six teams are also playing .600 or better basketball. 

A key addition might also enhance a contender’s chances of a top-four seed that carries with it home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. And unlike the West where all eight teams currently in the playoffs have winning records, the seventh and eighth seeds in the East are five and six games below .500. 

No team will catch Milwaukee for the East’s top seed. But getting the No. 2 seed and likely facing a losing team (currently Brooklyn) enhances that team’s chances to be fresher for a second-round matchup against likely a No. 3 seed which, in theory, will have had a tougher first round matchup.

Friday

Grizzlies at 76ers: These teams meet for the first time this season. The 76ers have one of the most contrasting home/road records in recent NBA history, going an NBA-best 22-2 at home but just 9-18 on the road.

Memphis is playing some of the best basketball in the league, going 13-4 SU since the end of December (12-5 ATS). Philly returns home after a four-game road trip, the last of which was Thursday night in Milwaukee. As a conference game against the NBA’s top team it was likely a game played at an above average level of intensity. 

The Sixers will likely be favored by mid-to-high single digits which gives enough room for them to continue their outstanding SU performance at home while supporting a play on the rested underdog. Memphis is currently seeded eighth in the West as a result of their fine recent play and although an outright upset here is not likely, a competitive effort is. GRIZZLIES

Saturday

Pelicans at Pacers: Zion Williamson has been impressive and has generated excitement since his debut for New Orleans two weeks ago. Though six games the Duke rookie is averaging 19.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Averaging 26.3 minutes per game his playing time has been gradually increasing. 

Surprisingly, this is a revenge game for the hosts, who lost at New Orleans in late December 120-98. After missing a full year due to injury Victor Oladipo has returned for the Pacers. In his three games to date he’s yet to play more than 24 minutes and he’s struggled to find his shooting touch, going just 8 for 39 (including 3 for 21 on 3-pointers). It’s just a matter of getting up to full speed before he contributes as he did pre-injury. 

Both teams have played high scoring games the past month with the Pacers 10-5 to the Over and the Pelicans 11-3-1 in that direction for each team’s last 15 games. OVER

Sunday

Celtics at Thunder: This is a matchup of the teams with the best ATS records. Through Monday, Boston was a solid 30-17-2 ATS while Oklahoma City was an even better 34-16. 

Both teams have winning records and positive scoring margins both at home and on the road. Boston is in a very contentious battle with Toronto and Miami for the second through fourth seeds in the East. OKC is seeded seventh in the West and is closer to the third seed than to the eighth.

This is a favorable spot for OKC as the Thunder face their only foe with a winning record over a seven-game stretch and playing the third of four straight home games. Chris Paul has assumed the role of floor leader in his first season with the Thunder and is one of four players averaging between 17.1 and 19.4 points per game providing excellent balance and multiple options. THUNDER

Last week: 1-2

Season: 26-19-2

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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