The Daily Sweat: Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo can make MVP cases as they face off

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The Golden State Warriors have had the NBA's best record for most of the season. The Milwaukee Bucks have dealt with injuries and COVID issues all season, but they're still very good when whole or close to it. 

TNT's first game on Thursday night is a good one. It features two of the top three players in the MVP odds. 

The Warriors travel to face the Bucks, who are 1.5-point favorites at BetMGM. Stephen Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo won't find themselves in many one-on-one battles, but it's a good chance for both to make MVP cases in a high-profile game. 

Curry has been the MVP favorite most of the season. He is +135 to win it. Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets is second at +220 and Antetokounmpo is next at +750. Those odds seem too high for Antetokounmpo, whose last three seasons have gone: regular-season MVP, regular-season MVP, NBA Finals MVP. Antetokounmpo is as good as ever, with 28.4 points and 11.4 rebounds per night. He has missed nine games for various reasons, and that will work against him, but he has been tremendous when he plays. 

Curry has been great too, scoring 26.8 per night but also adding 6.1 assists and 5.5 rebounds for a team that has often looked like the best in the NBA, though the Phoenix Suns now lead them by a game in the West standings. 

The Bucks have rarely had their preferred lineup this season, and Jrue Holiday is doubtful for Thursday night. The Warriors won't be full strength either, as Draymond Green will miss the game with a calf injury. 

At least we'll get the two marquee stars on the court. That's enough for a really fun Warriors-Bucks showdown. 

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) finds himself in the MVP race again. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)
Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) finds himself in the MVP race again. (AP Photo/Scott Audette)

Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday: 

What else is going on in the NBA? 

The second TNT game could be better, as the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets square off. The Blazers will be without Damian Lillard, who is out after abdominal surgery. The Nuggets have just been mediocre, as their 20-19 record shows. Denver is favored by 9.5 points. 

It's a five-game NBA schedule in total, and the other game of note could be the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Memphis Grizzlies. The Timberwolves are a fun, young team, and the 29-14 Grizzlies could be the most surprising story in the NBA this season. Memphis is a 5.5-point favorite. 

One college hoops game between two top-25 teams

No. 16 Ohio State travels to face No. 13 Wisconsin. The first time the teams met, back in December, Ohio State dominated in a 73-55 win. Wisconsin has had a very good season so far and should be more comfortable on its home court. The Badgers are favored by 3.5, which seems a little high given what happened in the first meeting. 

There are six other games involving top-25 teams on Thursday. 

What's the best bet? 

Memphis is one of the hottest teams in the NBA. I like Minnesota's talent, but the Grizzlies are the way to go. 

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