Wednesday tip-off: Four NBA favourites to boost your midweek profits
The defending champions are poised to shake off their recent struggles, and they head this week's best bets...
Cleveland Cavaliers to beat Minnesota Timberwolves -
Despite a mystifying slump in which they have lost six of their last 10 games, the Cavaliers should earn a much-needed win here.
Cleveland have lost just five times at home all season. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, have only won seven of 22 on the road.
Minnesota are on an impressive run, but their last five victories came against four teams with a combined record of 64 wins and 129 defeats, and the Los Angeles Clippers, who were missing star players Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
Their defence is the NBA’s eighth-worst – a weakness that the Cavaliers’ top-five offense should be able to capitalise upon.
Indiana Pacers to beat Orlando Magic -
The Magic are simply one of the NBA’s worst teams.
Ranking inside the bottom 10 both offensively and defensively, they have been unable to either outscore or stifle their opponents all season.
Orlando have been particularly bad at home, where they have lost 15 of their 23 games.
That does not bode well against the Pacers, who have won their last three and are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference.
Indiana have been average at both ends of the court, and have only won three games more than they have lost this season.
That should be good enough, however, to beat a team struggling as badly as the Magic.
Miami Heat to beat Atlanta Hawks -
The Heat are the NBA’s hottest team as the season reaches its midway point.
They have won eight consecutive games – a streak that includes victories over the Houston Rockets, Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors, all of whom currently occupy playoff spots.
Miami haven’t lost at home since 1 January, and they have outscored their last eight opponents by an average of 7.6 points.
Atlanta are a solid playoff team, but they have two defeats in their last four, including one against a Clippers team weakened by injuries.
So while a blowout is unlikely, it is difficult to see them halting the Heat’s impressive run.
Utah Jazz to beat Milwaukee Bucks -
No team has conceded fewer points per game than the Jazz this season.
That gives them a clear edge over the Bucks, who have been mediocre both offensively and defensively, particularly in recent weeks.
Utah have won seven of their last 10 games, and boast an impressive record of 17 wins and nine defeats at home this season.
And given that Milwaukee have lost eight out of nine, this one should be reasonably straightforward.