Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:54 AM

NBA Betting Essentials, Odds and Angles for Thursday, Feb. 27

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Top Game: Lakers (-4.5, 235.5) at Warriors, 10:35 p.m. ET, TNT

LeBron James played one of his best games since joining the Lakers on Tuesday night, helping survive their first encounter with Pelicans’ rookie Zion Williamson. His season-best 40 points helped send whatever messages he was trying to convey to a teenager he’d never met before and the team that could very well line up at Staples Center as his team’s first-round opponent.

The effort resulted in James choosing to take the night off here, citing a sore groin that can use a little rest before Friday’s test against the Grizzlies, the team they would currently open the playoffs against. It remains to be seen if he suits up to face injury-plagued Memphis, but he won’t play in San Francisco on Thursday as L.A. opens a three-game road trip that will end in New Orleans on Sunday.

The Lakers are looking to win a seventh straight game, which would match their third-longest winning streak of the season. L.A. has won nine and 10 in a row on separate occasions. It has won nine of its last 10 outright, covering the spread in seven of the wins. A victory over the Warriors would match Milwaukee for the NBA’s top road record at 24-5.

Forward Anthony Davis, who has been dealing with a calf bruise, hurt his elbow smacking the backboard in the second half against the Pelicans, is expected to play. He’s averaging 26.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in February. Kyle Kuzma is likely to take James’ place in the starting lineup and newcomer Markieff Morris will probably get an extended look.

L.A. is 1-1 in games where James hasn’t suited up, losing to Denver at home on Dec. 22 and winning in Oklahoma City on Jan. 11.

Golden State has the NBA’s worst record (12-46), both overall and at home (7-22). The Warriors have dropped seven consecutive games and haven’t won since trading away D’Angelo Russell and acquiring former No. 1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins from Minnesota.

Wiggins debuted against the Lakers on Feb. 8 in a 125-120 loss at Chase Center, finishing with 24 points and five steals. He averaged 22.8 points over his first four games with Golden State but has averaged just 12 over his last two games, shooting 9-for-30 from the field. He’s been playing through a leg contusion.

Golden State will welcome Draymond Green back into the fold after he’s missed the last two games with a pelvic injury. Starting center Marquese Chriss returned from a calf injury that forced him to miss Sunday’s loss to New Orleans. He’s averaged 14.5 points and 6.8 boards since joining Steve Kerr’s starting lineup 12 games ago and led Golden State with 26 points and nine rebounds in the most recent loss to L.A., shooting 11-for-15. Green missed the game with lower back tightness.

Golden State is debating allowing Stephen Curry to debut on Sunday, so he may be in the mix when these teams play on April 9 but won’t play here. Ky Bowman, Damion Lee and rookie Jordan Poole will again see the majority of backcourt duty. Poole scored 19 points off the bench in the most recent loss.

Davis was absent for the 120-94 Lakers’ win at Staples when these teams met on Nov. 13, so JaVale McGee and Kuzma played large roles. The Warriors had won 10 of 11 encounters with L.A. from Nov. 2016 until this season and haven’t fallen in the season series between these teams since 2012-13. The ‘under’ has prevailed in four of Golden State’s last five contests.

Knicks at 76ers, 7:05 p.m. ET

Joel Embiid left Cleveland’s Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse with his left arm in a sling, declining to talk to the media after playing just 7:36 of a 108-94 upset loss to the Cavs. Philadelphia never led and its All-Star center banged his shoulder against fellow 7-footer, exited and returned with it wrapped. It’s safe to assume he won’t play against the Knicks, but it remains to be seen how long he’ll be sidelined.

All-Star point guard Ben Simmons is out at least two weeks with a nerve impingement in his lower back, so Philadelphia will have to rally behind Tobias Harris, Al Horford and Josh Richardson. Shake Milton joined the starting five in Simmons’ place and Glenn Robinson III is a likely candidate to replace Embiid with Horford shifting to center. This will be the first game the 76ers will play without either Simmons or Embiid since April 10 of last season when they rested starters to prepare for the playoffs.

The Sixers own the NBA’s top home record (27-2), winning 13 straight and last losing on Dec. 20. Visiting New York lost in Charlotte on Wednesday, failing to rally from a 15-point deficit despite closing strong. Julius Randle finished with 18 points and nine boards in just 25:14 while Mitchell Robinson added 12 points and 16 boards off the bench. Both should be more productive without Embiid to trifle with. The Knicks are 1-7 (2-5-1 ATS) on the second night of a back-to-back. Philadelphia is 7-2 (5-3-1) on the closing out a back-to-back. It has won the first three meetings against New York but have failed to cover in any of the victories. The ‘under’ is 2-1.

Kings at Thunder, 8:05 p.m. ET

Oklahoma City can equal its longest winning streak of the season by holding serve here and has caught the Jazz for second place in the Northwest Division, a half-game behind the Mavericks for the fifth-best record in the Western Conference. It’s looking increasingly likely that Thunder will reach the playoffs for the 10th time in 11 years.

Sacramento hasn’t qualified for the postseason since 2006, but a three-game win streak and Memphis’ recent woes have allowed it to claw within 3.5 games of the eighth and final spot. The Kings are 0-2 this season after winning three straight and are looking for their longest run of victories since October of 2018. De’Aaron Fox has played well at the point but is playing through groin and shoulder ailments. Harrison Barnes has led the team in scoring in three of the past five games. Forwards Marvin Bagley III and Richaun Holmes remain sidelined, so Nemanja Bjelica and Harry Giles III are playing big minutes in the post.

For the Thunder, center Steven Adams has averaged 15 points and 13 rebounds during their win streak, so his ability to stay out of foul trouble and control the paint should play a large role. Chris Paul is averaging 20.5 points and 7.5 assists over OKC’s last eight, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to do whatever is necessary to breed success. The Thunder and Kings split their two meetings in Sacramento, last playing on Jan. 29. Dennis Schroder scored 24 points off the bench in a 120-100 road win. This is the lone meeting between the teams in Oklahoma City. The ‘over’ has prevailed in five of the last seven games involving the Thunder and four of the last six featuring the Kings.

Trail Blazers at Pacers, 8:05 p.m. ET, TNT

Damian Lillard traveled with Portland as it opens a crucial three-game road trip that also features stops in Atlanta and Orlando, but he’s not expected to play here as he continues to deal with a groin injury. That’s a tough blow for a Blazers team running out of time to avoid being the season’s biggest disappointment. The Blazers have failed to cover a spread in five straight contests, dropping four outright. Portland is 0-4 on the road this month and are 10-20 on the highway this season, which is a key reason it remains 2.5 games behind the Grizzlies in the race for No. 8.

Indiana has won just three of its last 10 and is running sixth in the East, though Philadelphia’s injury concerns may afford it a window to move up. The Pacers have struggled working Victor Oladipo into the fold after his lengthy absence and have seen him miss the past few games due to a sore back. He’s questionable, which leaves Nate McMillan thin on the wing since Jeremy Lamb tore up his knee in a 46-point loss in Toronto on Sunday. The Pacers rebounded with a 119-80 rout of Charlotte on Tuesday and are looking for back-to-back wins for the first time since Jan. 24.

Indiana lost 139-129 in Portland when these teams met on Jan. 26, falling victim to a 50-point night from Damian Lillard. Lamb led Indy with 28 points. The Pacers have 10 of 11 contests against the Trail Blazers, including five straight. C.J. McCollum has averaged 32 points, 6.3 rebounds and 10.7 assists over the last three games in filling in for Lillard as the team’s primary catalyst. The ‘under’ has prevailed in Indiana’s last three games.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]

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