Plenty of more movement in the NBA this week as managers were hired and fired while LeBron James staked his claim to be this year’s MVP.
The playoff places are all but confirmed with only 8th seed in the Western Conference still up for grabs there. The Memphis Grizzlies are in pole position there although the Portland Trail Blazers, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings are chasing them down at a rapid rate.
New Orleans Pelicans @ Sacramento Kings
11th March 2020 9:35PM
Two of the chasing pack in the West go head-to-head at the Golden 1 Center on Wednesday night. Both franchises have identical 28-36 record. That leaves them 3.5 games back from the Grizzlies in 8th.
The Kings have put a great 7-3 stretch together over the last few weeks to get themselves back in the playoff race. That run includes two wins over the Grizzlies and another over the Trail Blazers as well as a surprise victory over the Clippers. Harrison Barnes, Buddy Hield, Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Aaron Fox have been bringing a playoff mentality to each and every game and they can claw back the 3.5 game deficit before the 15th April.
Likewise, the Pelicans have put a good run together over the last few weeks. Zion Williamson’s arrival to the starting line-up has galvanized the team. The No. 1 Draft Pick has averaged 23.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.
Of all the potential 8th seeds, New Orleans are probably the team the fans want to see. 1st-time All-Star Brandon Ingram has been playing well alongside Zion and elite defender Jrue Holiday while playoff veteran JJ Redick has provided plenty of scoring from the bench.
This one is really tough to call. The Kings are on a good run but the Pelicans have won five of their last seven on the road. We can see this one going all the way to overtime so we’re backing the Kings (+1) at -107 with CanPlay.
Boston Celtics @ Milwaukee Bucks
12th March 2020 7PM
As things stand, these two teams are our Eastern Conference favourites. The Bucks are still NBA favourites at +225 with CanPlay despite losing three in a row. Brad Stevens’ Boston Celtics are +1800 with CanPlay to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy in June.
Both teams have already secured their place in the playoffs and it seems that they are easing off ahead of a tightly contested Eastern Conference playoff run. The Bucks have lost three in a row and a 70-win season now looks out of reach for them while the Celtics have a 50% record over their last ten games.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has missed Milwaukee’s last two defeats after suffering a knee sprain in Friday night’s defeat to the Lakers. Giannis’ injury prompted Coach Mike Budenholzer to rest the whole squad in their last defeat to the Denver Nuggets. Kyle Korver lead the team with 23 points off the bench while the 2019 MVP’s older brother Thanasis got the starting nod.
It looks likely that Giannis will sit this one out too and for that reason we’re backing the Celtics with CanPlay.
Brooklyn Nets @ Los Angeles Clippers
13th March 2020 9:30PM
The Brooklyn Nets will look to complete a rare Staples Center double on Friday night. The Nets caused the biggest upset of the week on Tuesday night beating the Lakers at Staples to extend their winning run to three games.
That win came just days after Kenny Atkinson was removed from his position as Head Coach with the Nets. His assistant Jacque Vaughan has taken the reins and looks likely to do so for the remainder of the season and post-season.
The Nets face the Warriors on Thursday night before heading back to Los Angeles on Friday to face Doc Rivers’ Clippers. Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert have been most impressive over this three game stretch and they will need to continue their good run of form if they are to pick up another couple of wins on the road.
The Clippers face the Nets off the back of a 24-point win over Stephen Curry-less Warriors on Tuesday night. They are 7-3 over their last ten games and have all but secured their playoff berth. Back the Clippers to win with CanPlay.