NBA tip-off: 4 basketball bankers for your Wednesday coupon
The revived Wizards and improving Celtics head our best bets for the midweek action on the court...
Washington Wizards to beat Memphis Grizzlies -
Washington’s Verizon Center has been one of the toughest places to visit in the NBA this season.
The Wizards have won 17 of their 23 home games, and have not lost on their own court since 6 December.
That doesn’t bode well for the Grizzlies, who have lost five of their last eight games on their travels.
Memphis are an excellent defensive team but they could struggle to contain the Wizards, who have averaged 109.5 points over the past six games – a mark that would rank fifth in the NBA over the entire season.
That offensive firepower – along with their home advantage – should be enough to see Washington through this tricky home game.
Portland Trail Blazers to beat Charlotte Hornets -
After a surprisingly strong start to the season, the Hornets have fallen off a cliff.
They have lost five games in a row, and their defence – which was so impressive in the opening few weeks – is suddenly struggling.
Charlotte have conceded an average of 112.4 points over the past eight games, and that six of those came on the road is no excuse. They are simply a bad team at the moment.
The Trail Blazers have also struggled defensively all season but, unlike the Hornets, they are a top-10 side at the other end of the court.
Given that they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers just last week, Portland should have few problems here.
Indiana Pacers to beat Sacramento Kings -
The Kings – to nobody’s surprise – are struggling.
They have lost seven of their last nine games, and have conceded an average of 109.2 points per game over that period.
Only six points rank lower than Sacramento in defensive rating, and their offense – the league’s 16th-best – is mediocre.
The Pacers are hardly title contenders. They are average both offensively and defensively, and will probably be competing for a low playoff seed come the end of the season.
They are, however, good enough to win in Sacramento, where the Kings have lost eight of their 20 games this season.
Boston Celtics to beat New York Knicks -
This one should not be close.
The Knicks have lost 11 of their last 13 games, and have only won six of their 21 games on the road this season.
They have conceded more points per game than all but five teams, and now face the Celtics, who are a top-10 offensive side.
Boston have made huge improvements over the past month, and are now third in the Eastern Conference.
They have won 13 of their last 16 games – and seven of their last eight – and have only lost once at home since 30 November.
The Celtics won both of the two meetings between these teams this seasons. They will make it three on Wednesday night.