6 NBA Matches to Bet on this Weekend
By Carl Lewis
7 August 2020, by: Cyrus Rogers of the Post Up Zone
6 NBA Matches to Bet on this Weekend
The NBA season is back in full swing since the restart and there have been some thrilling games. The story so far sees the Los Angeles Lakers having clinched the Western Conference standings and the number one seeding ahead of the playoffs. That means that any current losses in the seeding games won’t affect their place in the standings at all, but could be a problem when form is looked at. There is still a lot to play for behind them though as there could be a lot of shuffling of the pack, which would make the playoff matchups very interesting.
In the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks still lead the way, but their patchy form has also made things a little shaky when it comes to clinching the Eastern Conference number one ranking. The Toronto Raptors are hot on their heels and are one of the form teams as we race towards the playoffs, and the Raptors, as the reigning champions, can’t be discounted. The Eastern Conference from the third seed down to the sixth seed is still tight and there could be a lot of movement up or down on the standings as the games progress.
Let’s look ahead to six games to watch and take a wager on this weekend with a cheeky prediction thrown in as well.
Friday 7 August
22:00 – Oklahoma City Thunder v Memphis Grizzlies
The Thunder have really been packing a punch in the Western Conference since the season resumption, led by veteran star Chris Paul who is ably assisted by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander they are a very exciting side at the moment. They have excellent pace, shooting and creativity when on attack and have a solid big man in New Zealander Steven Adams providing size and presence in defence.
They have impact players they can count on like Italian forward Danilo Gallinari, but a real miss for the Thunder will be Gambian-German guard Dennis Schroder who has left the bubble for the birth of his second child, he looked on course to be the Sixth Man of the Year, he will come back to the team before too long. However, the rise of impact players such as young Guinean-American Hamidou Diallo, Egyptian-American Abdel Nader and the return of Andre Roberson makes them better on both ends of the court.
The young Grizzlies team has blown hot and cold this season and especially so in the bubble. They have the potential Rookie of the Year in their side in Ja Morant, but injuries and poor form has taken its toll. The Grizzlies are sliding down the standings and are battling to stay ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers to stay in the final playoff spot in the West, but it won’t be easy.
This is a must-win game for Memphis and they have been given a huge blow with the injury of rising talent Jaren Jackson Jr. who is out for the rest of the campaign after suffering a meniscus tear in his left knee, have recently returned to action. Jackson Jr. was one of the standout players for the Grizzlies and they won’t easily make up for his loss. Memphis are eager to avoid the play-in tournament that they are on a collision course with where the eighth- and ninth-placed teams in the West will play against one another after the seeding games.
This tournament only happens if there is a gap of four games or fewer between the two teams (meaning a win differential of 4 games between them). The play-in tournament will require one win for the eighth seed and two wins for the ninth seed. This game against the Thunder is a massive one for Memphis who will need a major effort from the whole team to get back on track.
Prediction: Thunder to win
Saturday 8th August
03:00 – Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors
The Boston Celtics have been swinging between losing and winning during these seeding games and can’t get a run of victories together. The Toronto Raptors have been one of the form teams in the bubble with consistency in both defence and offence. The second-seeded Raptors are eager to try and chase down the Milwaukee Bucks and become the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but it will require some pretty big results to go their way.
A victory over the sputtering Celtics will make a statement and show that they are one of the big dogs in the East. Boston have not been anywhere close to their best, but they are improving and Jaylen Brown, for instance, has shown up big time after the season restart. So too has Jayson Tatum, but they haven’t had enough of an impact on the results as coach Brad Stevens would have wanted.
The Celtics need more from All-Stars Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward. If those two can deliver more and the rest of the roster can also contribute both defensively and offensively then they can become a real threat in the East.
For now, the Raptors have the bit between their teeth and they are gaining momentum as the end of the seeding games looms larger by the day. Coach Nick Nurse’s team have played with confidence in their abilities and trust in their work ethic. All-Stars Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam will lead the way, but the band of brothers in Raptors uniforms will probably all put their hands up to be counted.
Prediction: Raptors to win.
19:00 – LA Clippers vs Portland Trail Blazers
On Saturday night the Los Angeles Clippers face off against the Portland Trail Blazers in a potentially titanic game. The Clippers now know that they can’t catch the rival Lakers in the standings but they have a battle on their hands to avoid being leapfrogged by the Denver Nuggets. That spot as the second seed is up for grabs and the Clippers will want to keep it.
The Portland Trail Blazers will be supremely tough opponents in this one as they are currently the ninth seed and have designs on making it to the playoffs. Every win counts for Portland as they look to keep the Memphis Grizzlies and eighth spot in their sights. The Blazers have a full-strength team again after having gone through one of the roughest injury-hampered seasons before the enforced stoppage of the season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With the return of centre Yusuf Nurkic, they are solid on defence and have enough scoring power in Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and the resurgent Carmelo Anthony.
The Clippers will probably have guard Lou Williams back in the squad, the current Sixth Man of the Year had made a much-publicized exit from the bubble to attend a funeral, but his visit to a gentlemen’s club for food got lots of media scrutiny. Williams has put that behind him, has cleared the quarantine protocol and is back in training. So too has been hard-as-nails guard Patrick Beverley who picked up a slight knock on his return to action. The Clippers have needed these players to strengthen the unit led by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. This is another very tough call to make with both teams close to full-strength and form.
Prediction: Clippers win (barely)
21:30 – Utah Jazz v Denver Nuggets
Another huge game in the Western Conference is the battle between the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets. The Jazz have been won a couple and lost a couple after the restart, whilst the Nuggets started with a loss and have improved despite still having to deal with injuries to vital players.
The Jazz have leaned heavily on rapid All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell and his link-up play with All-Star defensive stalwart Rudy Gobert. The two are a superb one-two punch as Mitchell often assists Gobert to score, using his lanky frame. With guard, Mike Conley finally looking like he’s found some form, and the return to sharp-shooting ways for Australian Joe Ingles, the Jazz look deadly. They defend well as a team and have found their attacking groove.
The Nuggets have unearthed a true gem in small forward Michael Porter Jr. who had been eased back into playing action as he still recovers from back surgery. MPJ, as he is known, has been on an almost unstoppable scoring tear, scoring over 60 points combined across two games and also grabbing double-digit rebounds in both as well. He has been the perfect foil for All-Star centre Nikola Jokic who has often carried this team.
They are still waiting on the scoring skills of the injured starting players Jamal Murray and Gary Harris who have been with the team but haven’t returned to action. There are players on the Denver roster who have contributed when they’ve won, but against the Jazz, they will need to really step it up. The Nuggets are hot on the heels of the Clippers and will be focused on victory to stay in close range, the Jazz might be a step ahead of them on the night.
Prediction: Jazz to win
Sunday 9 August
01:30 – Phoenix Suns v Miami Heat
The Phoenix Suns have waited all season for a run like the one they are on right now with win after win. They are one of four teams looking to chase down the Portland Trail Blazers and the Memphis Grizzlies to force their way into playoff contention, possibly via the play-in tournament. The Miami Heat have traded wins and losses in equal measure and will be keen to gain a winning momentum of their own.
The Heat have the Celtics in their sights as they try to climb up the standings. The teams will be well matched in this game with both in good form. The stand out player though is Suns guard Devin Booker who drained a last-gasp buzzer-beater to take down the Clippers in the Suns’ biggest win this term. There will be a lot of pressure on Booker to deliver and he will have some support from point guard Ricky Rudio, forward Dario Saric and centre Deandre Ayton.
The Heat though are a well-drilled team and are a better unit than the sum of their individual parts. All-Star guard Jimmy Butler might be the biggest name on the team sheet, but he has a lot of help coming from All-Stars Goran Dragic and Nigerian-American Bam Adebayo. There are also talented players like Andre Iguodala, Kelly Olynyk, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro who can do a job on offence as well as defensively. The Heat seems to be in a better space as a team despite Phoenix’s big wins.
Prediction: Heat to win.
Monday 10 August
00:30 – Philadelphia 76ers v Portland Trail Blazers
We’ve focused on the situation that the Blazers find themselves in when it comes to the need for a run of victories to help their playoff chances, but the Philadelphia 76ers will also be keen to win as they look to improve their standings in the Eastern Conference. Cameroonian All-Star Joel Embiid has been the bedrock of the 76ers for most of the season and he has needed his star teammates to come to the party.
All-Star Ben Simmons recently picked up a minor injury but he hadn’t been close to his best form before that. Another All-Star who hasn’t been delivering has been power forward/centre Al Horford who should have been the perfect fit in the Sixers’ system. He has struggled for any sort of form and the team feel lopsided due to that.
Throw in forward Tobias Harris and you have loads of talent that haven’t quite hit the mark. The Blazers will be no pushover in this contest and Damian Lillard as the troops will be fired up for another taste of victory. This game might mean more to Portland than to Philly in the larger scheme of things, but for Brett Brown and the 76ers they need to find their rhythm fast or they might fade away.
Prediction: Blazers to win