NBA Weekend Shootaround: April 3-4

by Sean Murphy

It's hard to believe we've already reached the first weekend in April and with it comes a full slate of NBA action as the regular season stretch run heats up.

Here's a look at several matchups to keep your eye on as the lines are released on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday

Timberwolves at 76ers, 8 pm et


We saw the 76ers rise to the occasion in what could have been a flat spot at the end of their long road trip in Cleveland on Thursday. Of course, Philadelphia was looking to snap a two-game skid in that situation so perhaps it wasn't all that difficult for it to get up for the game, even if it was against the lowly Cavaliers. Here, the 76ers face another league bottom-dweller in the Timberwolves. It's advantage 76ers here as Minnesota plays in Memphis on Friday night. In face, this will be Minnesota's fourth game in the last six nights, in four different cities no less. Should Philadelphia jump out to an early lead Minnesota might already start packing its bags for home as it hosts the Kings in a more winnable contest (relatively speaking) on Monday.

Thunder at Blazers, 10 pm et

This might be a tricky spot for the Blazers as they play the second of back-to-back nights after returning home to host the Bucks on just one day of rest following a four-game road trip on the opposite end of the continent. That's not to mention the fact that their opponent, the Thunder, aren't going to draw a great deal of motivation, noting that the Blazers already exacted revenge for an earlier-season loss at home against Oklahoma City, winning by double-digits in OKC back on February 16th. Portland rarely blows anyone out here at home - in fact, it has been outscored by 1.5 points per game on average here in the Pacific Northwest this season (entering Friday's action). Just something to keep in mind should we see a crooked number in favor of the Blazers on Saturday.

Sunday

Nets at Bulls, 3 pm et


The Bulls have been reeling lately and wrap up a disappointing road trip against the league-leading Jazz on Friday night before returning home for this matinee affair with the Nets on Sunday. This could actually serve as a sneaky-good spot to back the Bulls should they be catching enough points against a Nets squad that has been rolling. Brooklyn enters the weekend on a four-game winning streak, stringing together six consecutive quarters of incredible basketball against the Rockets and Hornets over its last couple of contests. Is this a spot where we'll see the Nets bring their 'A' game though? I'm not so sure. While the Bulls have been struggling, they're not short on talent and the new faces they brought in prior to the trade deadline have had ample time to get acclimated. You'll need to keep your eye on the injury report for both teams as James Harden has been banged-up for Brooklyn while Zach LaVine has missed time for Chicago.

Magic vs. Nuggets, 10 pm et

This is a tough scheduling spot for Orlando as it plays the second of back-to-back nights, in altitude, against the Nuggets on Sunday night. We've seen some promising play from the Magic on this trip - surprising to most after their roster was gutted prior to the trade deadline. Of course, there's a chance Orlando is already satisfied enough with its performance on this five-game western swing that it checks out should it fall behind early against the superior Nuggets. Denver has been frustratingly inconsistent at times this season, especially given the talent it has on hand, but we have seen it round into form lately, reeling off four straight wins heading into the opener of a five-game homestand. You can be sure Aaron Gordon will be looking to show up and show out against his former squad. While we're likely going to be looking at a steep number in favor of the Nuggets here, it might just be warranted in a game that has true blowout potential. 

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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