29 July 2019, by: Cyrus Rogers of the Post Up Zone
NBA Matches You Should Bet on this Weekend
The NBA has declared the games during this restart “seeding games,” because they will determine were the teams in playoff contention will end the regular season, and thus determine their seeding (team placement in their conference standings) heading into the playoffs.
The league has set up a coronavirus-free safe ‘bubble’ for the 22 teams participating in the season restart at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
During the season restart, there will be a maximum of seven seeding games per day across three venues. Each team will be designated as the home team in four seeding games and the visiting team in four seeding games.
The 88 seeding games, which were selected from the remaining 259 regular-season matchups, will count toward the final 2019-20 regular-season standings and regular-season statistics. The first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs will begin on the 17th of August 2020.
Here are five games to punt on this weekend.
Jazz (4th in West) vs Pelicans (10th in West) – 00:30 – Friday
The Utah Jazz were the fourth seed in the Western Conference when play was halted due to Covid-19 and they face the 10th placed New Orleans Pelicans in a tasty clash. The Jazz were a team in form at that point with star players Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert both providing good scoring numbers, they are ably assisted by Mike Conley and Joe Ingles, with Gobert the two-time Defensive Player of the Year also adding excellent defensive cover.
The Pelicans are a young team who have blown hot and cold this season. They have the much-hyped rookie Zion Williamson on their roster and he will be a massive draw for fans. He has the skill to dominate games, but he is still adjusting to life in the NBA. New Orleans have a young core of players with scoring prowess such as Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart, with veteran players JJ Redick and Jrue Holiday giving them much-needed experience in that department.
In this match, I’d pick the Jazz to come out on top as they have a more settled squad with a good mix of veteran experience in important positions as well as young talent. The Jazz have beaten the Pelicans twice in their three showdowns so far, with the Pels claiming the most recent victory. Utah should have the better defensive unit led by the Frenchman Gobert and that may be the difference.
Clippers (2nd in West) vs Lakers (1st in West) – 03:00 – Friday
This game has been billed as the clash of the titans this season with both the Clippers and Lakers looking to win the NBA Championship this season. These city rivals have faced each other three times already, with the Clippers winning twice and the Lakers once. Both teams have been hampered by player withdrawals from their rosters, from things such as family emergency departures outside of the ‘bubble’ to players opting out of returning to action. However, they both still have their core superstar players at their disposal.
The Clippers have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George as the featured scoring and defensive options, they are excellent on both ends of the court, while the Lakers have two megastars of their own in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. This game might come down to who has the deeper bench and also which players put their hands up to be counted. Both teams have recruited well with excellent secondary options available.
The two franchises are evenly matched in personnel and they both have great coaches, the Clippers led by Doc Rivers and the Lakers by Frank Vogel. I feel that this could be the Lakers’ game for the taking. LeBron James and his team looked good in their warm-up scrimmage games and I feel they might have hit their stride early. Also, the addition of JR Smith as a three-point shooter for the Lakers will help them in an area they were lacking in.
The Clippers weren’t bad during the warmups and they will still have a chip on their shoulder as the challengers to the crown. But I feel the Clippers’ preparations have been somewhat affected by players being unavailable.
Trail Blazers (8th in West) vs Grizzlies (9th in West) – 22:00 – Friday
This isn’t one of the more touted matchups as the teams are lower down on the Conference standings in the West but the battle between the Trail Blazers and Grizzlies will be a massive one. Memphis currently occupy the last playoff spot with Portland needing to catch up as quickly as possible.
It had been an injury-hit season for the Blazers before the coronavirus-enforced break, the Grizzlies, on the other hand, have seen their young team make huge strides. Memphis have some thrilling youngster in the team, none-more-so than Ja Morant a contender for Rookie of the Year. Jaren Jackson Jr. another young star has returned from a warm-up injury that had seen him miss nine games before the shutdown, so his involvement with the team will be immense. However, the Trail Blazers are almost back to full strength with the return from long-term injury of centre Yusuf Nurkic being the major factor for them.
Portland has been woeful this term, despite having a plethora of talented players on the roster. Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony and Hassan Whiteside join Nurkic in a star-studded roster. I think the newly fit Blazers are one of the teams to watch during this restart and they should win this duel.
Celtics (3rd in East) vs Bucks (1st in East) – 00:30 – Saturday
The Boston Celtics game against the Milwaukee Bucks will show both teams where they are in their development and form as the restart gathers pace. The Bucks were the best team in the NBA statistically before the shutdown of the league season. Led by Nigerian-Greek superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo the Bucks are the best Eastern Conference contenders for the title. They have a very solid roster with good defensive players like twins Brook and Robin Lopez, scorers like Khris Middleton and Kyle Korver as well as the playmaking talent of Eric Bledsoe. Reigning Most Valuable Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo is the undisputed star on show.
The Celtics have really struggled at times this term and coach Brad Stevens has kept his key players busy as they battle form, and in some cases confidence. Boston have rising stars taking the helm with Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown as the most important players on the scoring end, they also have veteran Gordon Hayward to back them up. The introduction of speedy All-Star guard Kemba Walker was meant to push the Cs to another level, but it hasn’t happened yet.
They have an exciting squad of players but haven’t really lived up to the hype. The main problem in Boston is the lack of defensive presence and in a game where you have to stop the already almost impossible to stop Giannis, you are in real trouble. In the two games, they’ve played against each other this season they have shared one victory apiece. I think the Bucks will come out firing in this one though.
Lakers (1st in West) vs Toronto Raptors (2nd in East) – 02:30 – Sunday
This will be the first game of the restart for the defending champions the Toronto Raptors and it will be a supremely tough one as LeBron and the Lakers will have already faced the Clippers. The Raptors won’t be worried about that though as they will be looking for the win and chasing form going into the end of the season. In their only matchup, this season Toronto beat the high-flying Lakers back in November in Los Angeles.
The Raps have versatile Cameroonian sensation Pascal Siakam as one of their pivotal players, with All-Star guard Kyle Lowry looking to put his passing and scoring skills on display. Congolese centre Serge Ibaka and Spanish big man Marc Gasol will look to provide the steel against Anthony Davis and LeBron James. The Lakers have enough talent in their team to get the victory through with Kyle Kuzma, Dion Waiters, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Danny Green all able of scoring big when needed. It will be a tough game for both teams and in some ways, it is a tight one to call. Although they have long been the underdog, even now as champions, I think that the freshness of the Raptors might play a part and see them home.