Kevin Durant’s second Suns game is in Chicago

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 1: Charlotte Hornets' Kelly Oubre Jr. #12 guards Phoenix Suns Kevin Durant #35 in the third quarter during their game at the Spectrum Center on March 1, 2023 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTICE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and/or using this photograph, the user agrees to the terms of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

What can Kevin Durant do in his second game with the Phoenix Suns?

Durant scored 23 points on 66% shooting Wednesday as the Suns beat the Hornets by 14. The game was the team’s first with Durant on the court and it went well — although it should have gone well. Phoenix is ​​a title contender and Charlotte is one of the worst teams in the league.

The Suns get a slightly tougher test against the Bulls in Chicago on Friday night. Phoenix are a 5.5-point favorite over the Bulls at BetMGM as Chicago have won three of their last four games to go 29-34.

The Bulls need the win to stay in the spotlight in the play-in race. Chicago enters the game 1.5 games behind the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets for 9th and 10th place in the Eastern Conference. Phoenix, meanwhile, sits fourth in the West but is just four games ahead of eleventh in the conference and three games behind third.

The Suns’ margin of error is little to zero as they bring Durant into the team. Phoenix can’t afford any slips as they target the home game in the first round of the playoffs.

Nine more NBA games

After only four games took place on Thursday evening, ten NBA games are scheduled for Thursday. The ESPN doubleheader features the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics (7:30 p.m. ET) before the Memphis Grizzlies visit the Denver Nuggets.

The Celtics are 10.5-point favorites and are currently a half-game behind the up-and-coming Milwaukee Bucks for the top spot in the Eastern Conference and the best record in the NBA. The Bucks have the same number of wins as the Celtics but one fewer losses.

The Nuggets are 5.5-point favorites against a Grizzlies team that’s only 12-18 on the road. Denver is 28-4 in the Ball Arena and extends their lead over Memphis in the west to six games with a win.

The night’s tightest lines both feature easy street favorites. The Utah Jazz are 1.5-point favorites over the Oklahoma City Thunder, while the Minnesota Timberwolves are 1.5-point favorites over a Lakers team that will be without LeBron James for the next few weeks.

Jon Rahm is a big favorite at Bay Hill

Jon Rahm was +650 to win the Arnold Palmer Invitational before the tournament. After blasting an opening round 65 and holding a two-shot lead over three players at 5-under, Rahm now has an amazing +140 to maintain the lead.

Rahm has been the best player in the world so far in 2023 with three wins in five starts. Rahm has finished no less than a seventh place finish so far this calendar year, and his lowest finish in seven PGA Tour starts in the 2022-23 season is eighth.

There’s also a big gap between Rahm and everyone else on the board. Scottie Scheffler is three shots behind Rahm and is the No. 2 favorite at +850. Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele also had 68s each in the first round and are +1200.

The composition of the ranking could change a lot on Friday. High winds are expected to wreak havoc at Bay Hill and it wouldn’t be a shock if the leaderboard totals ended the day looking similar or worse than they are now.

Conference tournaments will continue

Betting action starts early in men’s college basketball on Friday. The first conference tournament game of the day begins at 12:00 p.m. ET when Charleston Southern plays UNC Asheville. The final game of the day begins just before midnight when Pacific takes on San Francisco in the West Coast Conference tournament.

Who redeemed tickets on Thursday?

The Golden State Warriors blitzed the Los Angeles Clippers in the third quarter en route to an easy win and cover Thursday night. The Clips held an 11-point lead at halftime before Golden State edged LA 42-16 in the third.

The San Antonio Spurs beat the Pacers 110-99 as a 5.5-point home underdog while the Mavericks covered at home against the Sixers and the Wizards easily beat the Raptors as light house dogs. Kevin Durant’s second Suns game is in Chicago

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