Tuesday tip-off: 4 mighty midweek picks for your NBA acca
The surging Celtics are equipped to beat the Raptors in Toronto, and they head our best bets for the night of basketball...
Boston Celtics to beat Toronto Raptors -
The Celtics can climb to second in the Eastern Conference with a win on Tuesday night, and their impressive recent form suggests they are primed to beat the Raptors in Toronto.
Boston have won four consecutive games and 10 of their last 12, and have averaged 113 points per game over their last 11 contests.
They have pulled to within a game of the struggling Raptors, who have lost five of seven and conceded a total of 252 points in their last two games.
Toronto are an excellent offensive team, but the Celtics have the edge at the other end of the court, and their superior form means they are excellent value here.
Don’t be put off by the absence of injured guard Avery Bradley.
His replacement, Marcus Smart, scored 22 points, added five rebounds and six assists when starting against the New Orleans Pelicans in the Celtics’ last game.
Cleveland Cavaliers to beat Utah Jazz -
Winners of 10 of their last 12 games, the Cavaliers should extend their impressive run of results against the offensively-challenged Jazz.
While Cleveland rank fourth in the NBA in points per game this season, only two teams score fewer on average than Utah.
They are one of the league’s best defensive teams, but will likely struggle against a powerhouse like the Cavaliers, who also boast the NBA’s second-highest three-point shooting percentage.
Playing away from home is also unlikely to trouble the Cavs.
They have only lost twice on their travels since 2 December, and star forward LeBron James was rested for both of those defeats.
San Antonio Spurs to beat Milwaukee Bucks -
Having won 12 of their last 14 games, the Spurs are a safe pick here.
They are unbeaten at home since 29 November, and have blown away their last three opponents by an average winning margin of 24 points.
The Bucks are a playoff contender in the East, and have been impressive offensively this season – ranking ninth in offensive rating.
But they are ill-equipped defensively to stop the Spurs, who rank second in field-goal percentage, lead the NBA in three-point percentage and rank fifth in offensive rating.
That only the Utah Jazz have conceded fewer points per game this year indicates just how well-rounded San Antonio are.
They will win here.
Los Angeles Lakers to beat Portland Trail Blazers -
The Lakers have bounced back from a torrid run of results in December that saw them plummet in the Western Conference standings.
After losing 14 of 16 to close out 2016, they have won three of their last four and averaged over 115 points per game.
Starters D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle have returned from injury, and the Lakers look a much better team as a result.
Their next opponents, the Trail Blazers, are enduring a rough patch of their own, losing nine of their last 12.
And while they have been very good offensively this season, they are the worst team in the NBA on the other end of the court, ranking dead last in defensive rating.
Portland have won just six of their 21 away games this season, and are unlikely to add to that total at Staples Center on Tuesday night.