The past week of the NBA season has brought around plenty of controversy.
The fallout from James Harden’s dunk against the Spurs has continued. The Bucks have stretched their win streak to 15 games and lead the Eastern Conference. The Sacramento Kings recorded a ‘deserved’ victory over the Houston Rockets thanks to Nemanja Bielica’s last-gasp three and Luka Doncic broke one of Michael Jordan’s most famous records.
As for our tips, the Boston Celtics and Dallas Mavericks delivered once again while Toronto suffered an unexpected loss to the Houston Rockets.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Orlando Magic
11th December 2019 7:05PM
The Lakers begin their five-game road trip down in Florida with games against Orlando and Miami. They have maintained their position at the top of the Western Conference rankings with only one loss (to Dallas) in their last 15 games.
The partnership between LeBron James and Anthony Davis is flourishing and Davis has really come in to his own. Davis scored a season-high 50 points against the Timberwolves on Sunday night. Cult favourite Alex Caruso has become an important piece of the puzzle in Frank Vogel’s offense too.
The Orlando Magic have picked up where they left off last season. They are the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference with a record just below .500. However, that hasn’t come without its’ difficulties. Their two marquee players, Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon, have found themselves on the trade block while they have been heavily reliant on the playmaking skills of Evan Fournier and Markelle Fultz in the backcourt.
Looking ahead to this one, the Lakers are most definitely favourites. Vogel & Co. will be hoping to continue their winning record over the next two weeks before their Christmas Day showdown with the Clippers. The Lakers (-7) at -110 with CanPlay looks a good bet while Anthony Davis should continue his scoring streak in the Amway Center. Back the big man to score over 26.5 points at +100 with CanPlay.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Boston Celtics
12th December 2019 8:05PM
This game is a rematch of the opening day of the NBA season and a potential preview of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Celtics are in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference while the 76ers sit in 4th with both teams unbeaten at home so far this season. Home court advantage could be the tipping point in this contest between two evenly matched teams.
These sides are two of the best defensive teams in the league (ranked joint-3rd in defense) and we can expect to see playoff-intensity basketball on Thursday night. Al Horford had often been the difference maker on the defensive end for the Celtics. However, the big Dominican made the switch to the 76ers in the off-season and this will be his first return to TD Garden.
So, how can we separate these two? The Boston crowd will play their part but for me the real difference maker will be the Celtics offense. They have a new lease of life with Kemba Walker playing at the point guard position while Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward have all been very impressive.
On the other side of the court we have Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. Philadelphia’s star players do not complement each other on the offensive end. Brett Brown has been working on a solution and their recent form suggests that they have the skills to overpower some of the league’s lesser lights.
The Celtics in TD Garden are a different proposition though. We’re backing the Celtics to pick up a big win at home with CanPlay.
Detroit Pistons @ Houston Rockets
14th December 2019 8:30PM
The Pistons seem to have finally found some form. Their season looked over before it even started with Blake Griffin missing the opening month with an injury. Andre Drummond and Derrick Rose performed admirably in his absence but it’s only since Griffin’s return that their fortunes have improved.
They have won four out of their last five including big win against the Spurs and the Cavs. Derrick Rose has been a key player off the bench in this run. The former MVP hit a last-second game winner against the Pistons on Monday night and he’s averaging 16 points per game off the bench.
The Rockets have had a similarly inconsistent season. They have combined big wins with tight defeats and currently occupy fourth spot in the Western Conference. Their form over the last 10 games hasn’t been great though with five defeats. Of course, that includes their controversial loss to the Spurs last week.
We expect the Rockets to pick up another win at the Toyota Center but not by much. Back the Pistons with the points on CanPlay.