Wednesday tip-off: Four shrewd NBA selections to boost your bank balance
The free-scoring Cavaliers have dominated the Celtics this season, and they head our best bets for the week...
Cleveland Cavaliers to beat Boston Celtics –
In a meeting of the Eastern Conference’s two best teams, the Cavaliers’ impressive offense should earn them an important victory.
Cleveland rank third in offensive rating, fifth in field-goal percentage and second in three-point percentage this season, and have averaged 116.6 points over their last 10 games.
After a mid-season stutter, they have won 11 out of 14, with only one of their last six contests ending in defeat.
With star players LeBron James and Kyrie Irving stepping up in the absence of the injured Kevin Love, they should have enough to beat a Celtics team that have suffered three defeats in four games.
They conceded over 100 points in all three of those losses, and will have little chance of beating the Cavaliers if their 20th-ranked defence does not improve.
Cleveland have won both of the previous meetings between these teams this season, and should continue to dominate their closest challengers in the East on Wednesday night.
Milwaukee Bucks to beat Denver Nuggets –
Home advantage should prove crucial here in a game between two evenly-matched teams.
The Nuggets have lost 19 of 30 on their travels, and they now travel to face the improving Bucks, who have bounced back from the 12 defeats in 14 games that derailed their season.
Milwaukee have won four out of six, with their only losses in that period coming against the Jazz and the Cavaliers – both of whom will almost certainly make the playoffs.
Those teams are both better than the Nuggets, particularly at the defensive end, where Denver have been the worst side in the NBA.
No team has conceded a higher field goal percentage this season.
Given that the Bucks are shooting the highest percentage in the league, there seems only one way this game can go.
Detroit Pistons to beat New Orleans Pelicans –
Few teams get worse after signing one of the best players in the league, but that has been the case for the Pelicans.
They are yet to win after acquiring Boogie Cousins from the Kings, losing to the Rockets, Mavericks and Thunder since All-Star weekend, by an average margin of 17 points.
It won’t get any easier for them on Wednesday night against the Pistons, who currently occupy the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Only five teams have conceded fewer points per game than Detroit this season, and they will likely stifle a New Orleans offense that has only broken 100 points once since the Cousins trade.
The Pelicans have the NBA’s fourth-worst offensive rating, and it is hard to see them scoring enough to earn the win here.
Sacramento Kings to beat Brooklyn Nets –
This is the easiest pick of the week.
The Nets are on a 16-game losing streak – winning only once in 2017 – and have won just two of their 27 away games this season.
They have the league’s third-worst offensive rating, and rank fourth-bottom at the other end of the court.
The Kings won’t be winning a title any time soon, particularly after they traded away Boogie Cousins – their best player – over the All-Star break.
They are clearly the superior team here, though, and have won six of their last 10 games.
The Kings should have no problem beating a Nets team that are still yet to reach double figures in wins this season.