The Daily Sweat: The Suns have a small chance of moving into the top 6 in the West on Friday

The Phoenix Suns could jump into the top six of the Western Conference on Friday night. Though it’s not very likely.

The Suns enter Friday night’s road game at the Boston Celtics 9.5 games back of the conference-leading Denver Nuggets. It’s been a rough start for Phoenix. Devin Booker and Chris Paul have missed significant time due to injuries as the team is just one game over .500 53 games into the season after losing by 32 at home against Atlanta on Wednesday night.

The Celtics, meanwhile, sit atop the Eastern Conference and are 10.5-point favorites to win Friday. Boston has a two-game lead for the top seed in the conference and is 20-6 at home. Phoenix is 8-17 on the road. Only three teams in the West have a worse road record.

As a result, Phoenix is tied with the San Antonio Spurs as the biggest moneyline underdog across the eight NBA games on Friday. The Suns are +375 to win the game straight up. Betting a Boston win straight up is -450.

On the off-chance Phoenix wins, the Suns could jump into the top six if the Minnesota Timberwolves lose at home to the Orlando Magic. See, we told you this was a long shot. The Wolves are 5.5-point favorites against the Magic as they currently sit a half-game ahead of Phoenix for the final spot above the play-in tournament.

If the Suns are going to make a run anytime soon, they need to tread water during this road trip. Friday’s game is the first of five consecutive road games for the Suns over eight days. The Suns play at Detroit on Saturday, at Brooklyn on Tuesday, at Atlanta on Thursday and at Indiana on Friday. Two road back-to-backs in basically a week is usually a recipe for resting players. But with Booker still sidelined and Phoenix unable to sacrifice anything at this point, we’re fascinated to see how Monty Williams and the Suns approach the first part of February.

Other NBA games

The Sacramento Kings are 2.5-point road favorites against the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers blew a second-half lead in a 112-111 loss to the Lakers on Thursday night. It’s the first game back in Indiana for Kings All-Star Domantas Sabonis and we’ll see how much Tyrese Haliburton plays for the Pacers. Haliburton was selected to his first All-Star team on Thursday and made his return to the court from knee and elbow injuries. He may not play twice in two nights in his first two games back.

De’Aaron Fox is set to miss the game for the Kings for personal reasons.

The Atlanta Hawks are 1.5-point underdogs on the road to the Utah Jazz. Atlanta won five consecutive games to get to 24-22 in January before losing four of its last six to fall back to .500 at 26-26.

A big London matchup

If you’re looking for some Friday afternoon betting action, you can do a lot worse than Fulham’s English Premier League visit to Chelsea. The Blues are -150 to win at home while Fulham is +400 to win and the tie is +290. Chelsea has spent over $600 million in the last two transfer windows in an attempt to overhaul its team as it sits 10th in the standings just past the halfway point. Recently promoted Fulham is two points ahead of Chelsea in the standings, though the Cottagers have played one more game.

Pebble Beach Pro-Am

Hank Lebioda carded an 8-under 63 at the Monterey Peninsula course to take a one-shot lead after the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am. Lebioda isn’t much of a betting favorite yet, however. He’s +3000 to win the tournament after the first round and is behind nine other golfers on the board at BetMGM.

One of the golfers ahead of Lebioda is Jordan Spieth at +1800. Spieth is seven shots back of Lebioda after he opened the tournament at Spyglass Hill. The tournament is played across three courses as golfers play the Peninsula course, Spyglass Hill and Pebble Beach each of the first three days. Everyone then plays the final round at Pebble Beach after the cut.

Spyglass Hill was by far the toughest of the three courses on Thursday and Spieth gets the best draw possible with the Monterey Peninsula course on Friday. That means he’ll play Pebble Beach on consecutive days.

Who cashed tickets Thursday?

Denver beat Golden State 134-117 at home to drop Golden State’s road record to 7-20 on the season. The Clippers covered a 4.5-point spread as underdogs in a 106-105 loss to the Bucks. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 54 points in that game as neither team scored a point in the final 1:46.