The trade deadline has passed, and the NBA season is heading into the last third of the season. Playoff jostling is getting tense, teams are working on post-deadline buyouts, but the fixtures keep on coming.
We are here to look at a few of the most interesting NBA games of the week, so that’s exactly what we will do below…
Wednesday, 1AM: Houston Rockets @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Houston continue to push Golden State all the way for the top seed – and home advantage – in the West. The Rockets have won eight straight, but were held to a mere 104 points in their win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday. That is 10.1 points below their average for the season.
The visiting Timberwolves remain the fourth seed in the West. No team has won more games at home than Tom Thibodeau’s team, who have scored over 100 points in their last 12 games. The last time they did not reach three figures, however, was when they lost 116-98 to the Rockets.
I think this is surprisingly tough to call. Few teams can stop this Houston offence, but Minnesota’s impressive home record means I can see an upset in this one.
Tip: Minnesota to win @ 6/5
Wednesday, 1AM: Cleveland Cavaliers @ Oklahoma City Thunder
The team with the second-best player of all-time are good again. Who would have thought it?
Well, in the midst of their disastrous recent run, it was understandable to doubt Cleveland. Their blockbuster deadline activity has given the roster a remarkable facelift. Enough of a change, in fact, to see LeBron James’ side smash the Boston Celtics at the weekend.
Oklahoma City have found a balance for their trio of stars without the need for a mass exodus, but have desperately missed defensive wizard Andre Robertson of late. His absence will be even more important against this younger, more dynamic Cavs team.
Just a week ago this was an easy Thunder win. Now I’m leaning towards Cleveland, who look to have taken no time to gel.
Tip: Away win and over 221.5 match points @ 29/10
Thursday, 12AM: Miami Heat @ Philadelphia 76ers
Miami and Philadelphia are amongst a group of teams closely contesting for the Eastern Conference playoff positions. These two are above the line at the time of writing, and are separated by just half a game.
Philly are on a good run of late. Joel Embiid recently featured in his first back-to-back of his career, while Ben Simmons continues to go from strength to strength. His passing range is improving by the night. The Sixers were in the market to add a piece at the deadline, but just missed out on Tyreke Evans.
The Sixers are formidable at home. They could well be 17-10 at Wells Fargo Center by tip-off in this one. The arrival of Dwayne Wade adds guile to Miami, the veteran could take advantage of the inconsistent Philadelphia defence. I fancy a high-scoring, close-fought game.
TIP: Over 210.5 match points @ 10/13
Friday, 1AM: Denver Nuggets @ Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee and Denver currently reside in the second-half of the playoff spots in the Eastern and Western conferences respectively. The Bucks have an opportunity of slipping into the top four, but will be more worried about the pursuing Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat.
Denver are having a solid season. It’s primarily been built on ludicrous home form, however. Away from Pepsi Center they have struggled all year, winning just eight road games so far this season.
The Nuggets’ solid run of late – that puts them at 7-3 over their last 10 – hit a Houston shaped roadblock. A blowout defeat to James Harden and co. was a reminder of their defensive weakness, which we may well see Milwaukee and Giannis Antetokounmpo exploit too.
TIP: Milwaukee to win @ 4/6
*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*