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NBA Games Preview – Sunday 05.01.2020

Happy New Year everyone! Let’s get back to business:

 

Los Angeles Clippers - New York Knicks (20.30 UK Time)

Clippers have and easy-looking home back-to-back set of games this weekend. Both games are early which might cause some inconvenience. The bigger issue for Doc Rivers is Paul George’s back injury. PG-13 will reportedly miss both contests and will be re-evaluated on Monday. Of course, Kahwi is more than enough to carry the team alone over mediocre opponents like Knicks.

Speaking of Knicks, they’ve greatly improved through the holidays. For them this means 5 wins in their last 10 games. New York can win only against teams around their level though and Clipps are way tougher. They don’t really need those wins too as they hurt the organization’s lottery chances. Still some of the veteran players like Morris, DeAndre and Elfrid Peyton want to keep their respect around the league.

Verdict: No odds yet but Clippers will be heavy favs for sure. I expect the default line to be around 11-12 points for them to cover. Well, maybe a point or two lower because of PG’s absence, still unplayable though. The chance that New York starts well, and the spread goes down to 7-8 points is slim of course. So, let’s call it a watching game only.

 

Miami Heat - Portland Trail Blazers (23.00 UK Time)

 

Heat continue to play excellent team-first basketball and firmly cling to the 3rd spot in the East with 25-10 record. They lost badly in Orlando on Friday night, but this was only their 3rd loss in the last 10 games. Butler is taking a small backstep in points scored but he’s doing everything else and is the real leader of the team. Dragic made a few good games the last week and the rookie Herro also continues with his excellent performances.

The situation in Portland is just the opposite. They succeeded to get 5 wins in their last 10 games and get up to the 9th place in the West with 15-21 record. The season is still salvageable for them, but they really need to address all the things that got wrong in comparison with the last season. Carmelo Anthony is playing completely ok in most games, Lillard and McCollum also record their usual stats, and Blazers still can’t find enough offense on many occasions.

Verdict: Miami will be around 7-8 points favs most probably. They can cover it but it’s still risky. Blazers have way better chance than Knicks to make a good stretch at some point until the half-time. If that materializes and the spread for Heat to cover gets down to some 4-5 points, that would be a play for the home team.

 

 

Phoenix Suns - Memphis Grizzlies (01.00 UK Time)

Suns are 14-21 and sit on the 10th place in the West. It’s not clear whether they really try to get wins and stay in the play-off race as long as possible. This won’t do them any good but a first-round exit in the best-case scenario. The other way is to start tanking again, like they’ve done the last few seasons.

No dilemmas for Grizzlies. Their young boys don’t tank, they enjoy playing the game and gather experience in the process of losing. Memphis are dangerous when both Morant and Jackson have a good night. They have 5 of their last 10 games too.

Verdict: Oddsmakers will install Suns as favs here because of the home factor. The spread will likely be around 6-7 points, about right. If it goes up to Grizzlies +10 or more in-play though, I’d be willing to try a bet on the outsider.

 

Los Angeles Lakers - Detroit Pistons (03.00 UK Time)

Lakers bounced back perfectly after the 4 straight losses around Xmas with 4 straight wins. They’ve undoubtedly circled this game as a Win Nr. 5 in the calendar.

Pistons continue to miss Blake Griffin due to his injury problems. Blake is unlikely to be ready for this game, but it won’t make any difference anyway. Pistons have won only 2 of their last 10 games and play-offs start to feel like a high target this season.

Verdict: Lakers will probably have to cover double-digit spread. They have all the chances to do it, but I don’t like 10+ points spreads in NBA as a meaningless 3-pointer or a lay-up in the garbage time could ruin it all. It’s also unlikely Detroit will make a good run and the spread for Lakers go down, so let’s leave this game out of the betting too.

 

 

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