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NBA Sunday Tipsheet: Thunder can roll in Boston as Kyrie doubts rock Celts

Deadlines cause action. As the trade cut-off looms, the Knicks appear to have big plans in mind, and Boston’s Kyrie Irving could be part of them. Mark Kirwan wonders if it will affect the Celtics against the Thunder….

“If this trade is to make any sense, New York must have strong reason to believe they can nab two of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, or Kawhi Leonard this summer. The move should worry Celts fans. Until this week, it was assumed that Irving would re-sign with Boston. Clearly, someone in New York thinks there’s a good chance he doesn’t, and now he’s making less than encouraging comments. Of course, this could just all be the Knicks being the dysfunctional joke we expect.”

Kyrie trading places?

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Boston Celtics
Sunday, 19:00
Live on Sky Sports USA, Mix

Apparently, there’s a football game tonight. The NBA cedes America’s sporting gaze for the evening to gridiron on Sunday night but is squeezing in three early games before kick off in Atlanta. If any of the games, basketball or football, can match the trade drama swirling around the NBA right now they’ll do well.

Anthony Davis’ decision to say no more to NOLA had the league buzzing already, and then on Thursday the Knicks blindsided everyone with their decision to trade Kristaps Porzingis to the Mavericks.

What does that have to do with OKC’s visit to Boston you ask? Quite a lot if we assume that the Knicks management isn’t completely insane – not a given where owner James Dolan is concerned.

Put simply, Porzingis is the best prospect the Knicks have had since Patrick Ewing. If they were getting a star back – let’s say this was for Anthony Davis – you’d see the sense in it. But they’re not. Instead, they’re banking on being able to splash the cash this summer in free agency by clearing out bad contracts now.

They’ve taken their best talent in a generation and used him to dump other players’ salaries. If this trade is to make any sense, New York must have strong reason to believe they can nab two of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, or Kawhi Leonard this summer.

The move should worry Celts fans. Until this week, it was assumed that Irving would re-sign with Boston. Clearly, someone in New York thinks there’s a good chance he doesn’t, and now he’s making less than encouraging comments.

Kyrie Irving has shifted from his commitment to re-signing with the Celtics: “I don’t owe anybody shit.”

? Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) February 1, 2019

Of course, this could just all be the Knicks being the dysfunctional joke we expect.

This drama is not what coach Brad Stevens needs with Oklahoma City crashing into town. The Thunder have won seven in a row and are 6-1 against the spread. They’ve not faced the strongest opposition but wins breed confidence, and another tonight would be a great way to round of this three-game road trip.

Boston are 8-1 in the previous nine too, but are not as strong at covering as the visitors, going 4-7-1 against the number in their last 12. The talk about their leader didn’t affect them against the Knicks on Friday night, but they’re in full tank mode now.

The Thunder have a strong record in TD Garden, going 4-1 against the spread on their last five trips to Massachusetts. Boston are one of the better home teams in the league, but OKC have the third best away form this season. This should be a tough match up, but I’d look to Oklahoma to cover.

Roster turnover turmoil

Memphis Grizzlies @ New York Knicks
Sunday, 18:00
Live on Betfair Video

The Knicks have won twice since December 1.

The Porzingis trade was preceded by reports that he was worried about the culture of losing at the club. If the high-risk play of trading their unicorn talent doesn’t work out it will go down in league lore as one of the most stunning miscalculations in history and confirm that the 23-year-old’s worries were well-founded.

But, if they can swing the signings they expect and secure the first pick in the draft, where they’ll likely take the possibly generational talent of Zion Williamson, they’ll be instant challengers in the East. For now, they’re killing time.

Memphis are performing the last rights on their team of the last decade. They’ve three wins since Christmas and the club is preparing to say goodbye to one, if not both, of its leading players. Mike Conley looks to be headed to Utah as of writing, while Marc Gasol is drawing suitors from across the league.

Their time seemed to be up last season, but the Grizz weren’t ready to quit on them yet. They are now as they face into a rebuild in the brutally tough West.

Both of these rosters are in turmoil right now. It’s possible both are such a mess that this turns into a shootout, but that’s not likely. Both teams’ records recently are full of sub-100 point outings. This should be a very ugly game, and the under ought to come in.

Raptors waiting on Kawhi

LA Clippers @ Toronto Raptors
Sunday, 20:00
Live on Betfair Video

The Clippers hit the second stop on their six-game trip. A win at Detroit on Saturday ought to see some confidence returning – two home losses prior to packing their bags didn’t need to become three in a row, especially with the Raptors, Pacers, Celtics, and Timberwolves all on their schedule in the next ten days.

They needed to dig in against the Pistons last night though, having trailed by as much as 25 points, and you’d wonder if the effort involved will impact on their effort tonight.

Toronto are coming off a tough loss to the Bucks in their Eastern Conference leaders clash. It means they’ve lost three in their last four, and have failed to cover in their last three games.

They’ll be glad there’s not as much chatter around their impending free agent star. Kawhi Leonard’s status for next year is still TBC – the Clippers, Lakers and Knicks remain possibilities – and what he decides to do will decide the direction of this franchise for the next few years.

Tonight, it’s tempting to take them at -10 or thereabouts, but I’d rather just cash in on the under with the line at 229, because the Clippers are trending down in recent weeks – they’ve not gone over on a points total in the last five games.

I’d see Toronto taking it easy while they win this. The under makes sense.

Source: US Sports