Sports

USA: NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION – Teams scampering to make play-offs, only Bucks, Raptors safe

JustBet has both Bucks, Raptors at $9.00 to win overall title

BY MARK ARCHER
Contributor

Friday, March 15, 2019

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WITH all 30 teams having already played 70 games (or thereabouts), the National Basketball Association (NBA) regular season is nearing the end with only two teams (Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors) have booked places in the play-offs. The race down the stretch is therefore very close, especially in the Western Conference.

With each team eyeing an average of 12 remaining games, even the NBA-worst is finishing strong. The Phoenix Suns have had a dreadful season including a franchise-worst 17-game losing streak, but they have had five wins in the past seven games including a 115-111 road win over the JustBet favourite Golden State Warriors on Sunday. The Suns halted an 18-game losing streak against the Warriors and won inside Golden State's home arena for the first time since February 7, 2011, when the names on the Phoenix roster included Steve Nash, Grant Hill and Vince Carter.

The Suns, during the stretch, also rallied impressively from a double-digit deficit to beat the NBA-best Milwaukee Bucks 114-105 in early March. They, however, had a reality check when they visited the Utah Jazz on Wednesday and slumped to a 114-97 defeat.

The Golden State Warriors, after their 13-2 run just prior to the All-Star Weekend, are yet to cement their place in the play-offs due to their 5-5 record since the break. They have left the proverbial door ajar for the Denver Nuggets, OKC Thunder, Houston Rockets and basically all other teams clamouring for the top spot in the West. Their post-All-Star losses include two blowouts plus setbacks against three teams with sub -.500 records (Miami Heat, Orlando Magic and Sunday's aforementioned loss against the lowly Phoenix Suns).

The Warriors, however, have proven themselves a resilient bunch and paid a visit to the Toyota Center on Wednesday to take on the Houston Rockets with their impressive 9-game winning streak. The Warriors were without Kevin Durant and the Rockets savoured the opportunity for a sweep of the four-game season series and to extend their win streak to ten, but the Warriors had other ideas.

Golden State emerged 106-104 winners, led by Klay Thompson (30 points), a monster game from DeMarcus Cousins (27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists) and Stephen Curry added 24 points. The Warriors have appeared complacent at various points during the season, yet still hold the number one seed in the West and appear to rise to the challenge at will. Time will tell if they can consistently execute in the play-offs.

Next up, the Houston Rockets host the Phoenix Suns this evening (Friday) and should again taste the thrill of victory while the Golden State Warriors visit Oklahoma City on Saturday night for another tough assignment. There is a lot on the line, but Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry are the only players in NBA history to have seven straights seasons with 200 made three-pointers and Curry needs only six points in Saturday's game to become the fifth player in franchise history to attain 16,000 points. These are big players who are expected to produce big numbers. The prediction is for a Warriors win.

If the play-offs started today, the following would be the top eight teams in both conferences:

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Pos. Team Win Loss
1 Milwaukee Bucks 51 17
2 Toronto Raptors 48 20
3 Philadelphia 76ers 43 25
4 Indiana Pacers 43 25
5 Boston Celtics 41 27
6 Brooklyn Nets 36 34
7 Detroit Pistons 34 33
8 Miami Heat 32 35


WESTERN CONFERENCE
Pos. Team Win Loss
1 GS Warriors 46 21
2 Denver Nuggets 44 22
3 OKC Thunder 42 26
4 Houston Rockets 42 26
5 Portland Trail Blazers 41 26
6 San Antonio Spurs 39 29
7 Utah Jazz 38 29
8 LA Clippers 39 30

JUSTBET NBA CHAMPION ODDS
CODE TEAM ODDS
101 GS WARRIORS 1.35
102 BOS CELTICS 16.00
103 HOU ROCKETS 10.00
105 PHI 76ERS 15.00
106 TOR RAPTORS 9.00
107 OKC THUNDER 25.00
108 UTA JAZZ 60.00
109 SA SPURS 60.00
110 MIL BUCKS 9.00
114 DEN NUGGETS 25.00

DATE TIME HOME AWAY
15/03/19 18:00 DET PISTONS LA LAKERS
PHI 76ers SAC KINGS
WAS WIZARDS CHA HORNETS
19:00 HOU ROCKETS PHO SUNS
MIA HEAT MIL BUCKS
NO PELICANS POR T BLAZERS
19:30 SA SPURS NY KNICKS
21:30 LA CLIPPERS CHI BULLS
16/03/19 11:30 BOS CELTICS ATL HAWKS
18:00 NO PELICANS PHO SUNS
WAS WIZARDS MEM GRIZZLIES
19:30 DAL MAVERICKS CLE CAVALIERS
OKC THUNDER GS WARRIORS
SA SPURS POR T BLAZERS
20:00 DEN NUGGETS IND PACERS
UTAH JAZZ BRO NETS
17/03/19 11:00 NY KNICKS LA LAKERS
12:00 MIA HEAT CHA HORNETS
14:30 MIL BUCKS PHI 76ers
15:00 DET PISTONS TOR RAPTORS
17:00 ORL MAGIC ATL HAWKS
SAC KINGS CHI BULLS
20:00 HOU ROCKETS MIN TIMBERWOLVES
LA CLIPPERS BRO NETS


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