The first NBA on TNT matchup on Thursday night is a Finals rematch and potential preview of this summer's event when the Boston Celtics host the Golden State Warriors. The second game also could be a Finals preview, but it won't look much like one when the Brooklyn Nets visit Phoenix. The Suns will remain without All-Stars Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Brooklyn of course will be missing Kevin Durant, but Kyrie Irving is expected to be back in the lineup. The Nets are -2.5 at Caesars Sportsbook.
Booker hasn't played in weeks and isn't particularly close to a return. Phoenix is an ugly 3-13 without him and has gone from contending for the Western Conference's best record again to outside the play-in tournament field at 21-24.
It was looking decent for Paul to return tonight after missing the past five (and, frankly, I was going to play the Suns if he did) with right hip soreness. He practiced in full Wednesday, but will sit for at least one more game. The Suns are 10-9 without Paul and obviously there's crossover with the Booker injury.
The Suns also are without Landry Shamet, Cam Payne and Josh Okogie tonight but will get back Cameron Johnson. He tore a meniscus on Nov. 4 against Portland and was averaging 13.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game before the injury. The Suns went 6-2 with Johnson starting the season in place of Jae Crowder, who remains away from the team as Phoenix searches for a trade.
Durant probably won't be back from his knee injury until after the All-Star break. Brooklyn is 0-3 both straight up and against the spread since he went down.
Irving missed Tuesday's 106-98 loss in San Antonio with right calf soreness but is listed as probable for Thursday. He is given an over-under of 29.5 points at Caesars, by far the most of any player. Irving hasn't topped that total since Dec. 26 in Cleveland (32 points), but Durant was around for many of those games. The Suns player with the highest points total? Deandre Ayton at just 18.5.
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