With the Christmas Day fixtures only one week away, two teams have really asserted their dominance in the NBA.
The Los Angeles Lakers lead the Western Conference with a 24-4 record while Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks lead the Eastern Conference with a matching record. The two teams play each other in a highly anticipated match on Thursday night.
The Dallas Mavericks have continued their strong start to the season without injured star Luka Doncic. They ended the Bucks’ 18-game win streak on Monday night with Kristaps Porzingis and Seth Curry carrying the scoring burden.
Things are tightly packed in the Eastern Conference too. The Philadelphia 76ers, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers all sit within one win of each other at the top of the East standings.
Lets take a look ahead to this week’s games.
Boston Celtics @ Dallas Mavericks
18th December 2019 9:35PM
3rd in the West hosts 3rd in the East in this interesting clash on Wednesday night. The Mavericks come into this one after that big win against the Bucks while the Celtics lost their first home game of the year against the 76ers in their last outing.
Luka Doncic’s injury could come with a silver lining for the Dallas Mavericks and we saw some evidence of that on Monday night. Kristaps Porzingis has had to play second fiddle since his summer arrival but Luka’s injury has given him a chance to take centre stage. Dallas’ bench players showed they’re more than capable of stepping up on Monday night too. Maxi Kleber, Seth Curry and Delon Wright all notched double figures for Rick Carlisle.
The Boston Celtics have had the benefit of six days off since their last game and they will want to get back to winning ways after losing two on the bounce. Kemba Walker has been their key man and the former Charlotte point guard leads the team in points and assists.
This one is tough to call but the bookmakers have the Mavericks as two-point underdogs on home court. For that reason we’re backing the Mavericks (+2) at -108 with CanPlay Sports. In the player betting, Kristaps Porzingis to have over 32.5 combined points, assists and rebounds is an attractive -145. Kemba Walker is averaging 23.1 points per game this season and he looks a decent bet to score 24 or more at -120 with CanPlay.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Milwaukee Bucks
19th December 2019 8PM
Fans have had this one penciled in on their calendars for months. LeBron vs. Giannis. No.1 vs No.1. A potential Finals rehearsal.
While anticipation is still high, the gloss has been taken off this one slightly after both franchises suffered defeats in the last appearances. It had looked like these teams would meet with identical 25-3 record with the Bucks aiming to match their franchise record of 20 wins in a row. Instead, both the Lakers and the Bucks enter with 24-4 records after losing to Indiana and Dallas respectively.
Anthony Davis sat out that loss to Indiana and he is expected to return for the Lakers on Thursday night. The 26-year-old is averaging 27.4 points-per-game and he looks to be the perfect foil for LeBron James. Expect him to have a big game on offense coming up against All-Star Khris Middleton.
We’re backing the Lakers to take the win and their place at the top of the NBA with a win on Thursday night. Back them to win with CanPlay.
Washington Wizards @ Toronto Raptors
20th December 2019 8:30PM
The Washington Wizards head north of the border to face Eastern Conference rivals and reigning NBA champions Toronto Raptors.
Despite their poor start to the season, the Wizards are only three games back from 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. Bradley Beal is putting up All-NBA level numbers to keep Scott Brooks’ side in the hunt while summer acquisition Davis Bertans looks to be the signing of the season. The Latvian is on course for a record-breaking 3-point shooting season, averaging 3.8 3PM per game.
The Raptors have started their defense of the championship reasonably well. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet have continued their Playoff form into the regular season while Kyle Lowry has returned to give the team some stability on defense. Nick Nurse’s side are 5th in the East with a tough Christmas schedule on the horizon. A win here is crucial to start the festive season off right for the Raps.
Back the Toronto Raptors to win with CanPlay.