With teams just hitting the half-century mark in terms of games played this season, the playoff picture is becoming much clearer.
In the West, only five games separates 2nd placed Clippers and the 7th placed Oklahoma City Thunder. In the Eastern Conference, five games separates the Raptors in 2nd and the 76ers in 6th. Top seed looks like a foregone conclusion in both conferences – Milwaukee leads the East with a 43-7 record while the Lakers are out in front in the West with a 38-11 record.
Here’s some tips for this week’s big games.
Miami Heat @ Los Angeles Clippers
Wednesday 5th February 10PM
The Miami Heat head to Los Angeles for this cross-conference clash between two of the most dominant teams in the league.
The Heat have won seven of their last ten games. That run includes Monday’s trashing of Eastern Conference rivals, Philadelphia, on a scoreline of 137-106. That win outlines their playoff credentials and Coach Spoelstra and Pat Riley seem confident of a first Finals appearance since 2014.
The Clippers added Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to their roster in the off-season for the sole reason of making their first Finals appearance in franchise history. The bookmakers still consider them one of the favourites to do so. However, they have slipped out to +320 with CanPlay in recent weeks. This may be the time to place your bets on the Clippers to lift the ‘Larry O’B’ with those generous odds.
The travel schedule hasn’t been kind to the Heat and we can’t see them picking up a win here. Back the Clippers with CanPlay.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Milwaukee Bucks
Thursday 6th February 8PM
This is an important game in the Philadelphia 76ers season. Rumours are swirling about Brett Brown’s future in the coach’s chair and the players have been criticised after their disappointing loss to Miami on Monday.
We have seen teams do this before. Take the regular season at their leisure before exploding into life when the playoffs come. However, it doesn’t feel like this is the case with the 76ers. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid don’t mesh well on the court while their alternatives haven’t found top form either. Tobias Harris and Al Horford have flattered to deceive this season.
Having said that, their previous meeting this season was Philadelphia’s best result to date. They beat Milwaukee by 12 points on Christmas Day thanks to a dominant performance by Embiid.
Embiid’s dominant performances have been a consistent theme in these Milwaukee-Philadelphia match-ups. For that reason, we’re throwing the form book out the window and betting on Brett Brown and the 76ers to pick up the W in Wisconsin.
Toronto Raptors @ Indiana Pacers
Friday 7th February 8PM
The second of a home and away series between the Pacers and Raptors. If the Raptors win both, they will have set a new franchise-high winning streak. Currently 11 without defeat, Toronto could be set for a remarkable return to the NBA Finals if they can maintain this winning form.
The Pacers are in a surprisingly good position too. Nate McMillan’s squad are in fifth in the East having recently welcomed Victor Oladipo back into the fold. Domantas Sabonis’ good form has been rewarded with a first All-Star appearance.
Will they have enough to handle the Raptors though? Probably not. Nick Nurse has created one of the most cohesive team units in the league without any standout players. Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, Norm Powell, Kyle Lowry and OG Anunoby have established themselves as top-class NBA players on both ends of the floor.
Bet on the Toronto Raptors to extend their winning streak with CanPlay Sports.