This week in the NBA: LeBron fall-out and Spurs hit form
Drew Goodsell | 18 March 2019
Odds and review of the NBA action
We’re in the final stretch of regular season NBA games, with the play-off picture starting to fill up and become clearer.
In the week where the Philadelphia 76ers clinched their play-off spot, Chicago Bulls learned they’d miss out on the post-season.
One of the game’s new all-time greats received criticism from players of yesteryear, with the Lakers sitting in disarray.
We’ve got odds on some of Tuesday’s games to help tip-off the new week of basketball action, as we have a look into the past week in the NBA.
New York Knicks
It sounds crazy to praise the league’s bottom side, but it’s been a good week for the Knicks in more ways than one.
Although no one has confirmed the organisation are tanking this season, it does seem to be going that way. And with their closest competitors, Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers picking up some wins, the Knicks now have a three-game gap as the league’s worst side with a record of 14-56.
That’s just one of the Knicks win’s this week, as they’re three games closer to a number one draft pick, likely Zion Williamson.
With the safety gap to the other sides out of play-off contention, it means David Fizdale’s side can go out and express themselves on the court. In the last game against the Lakers, they managed to do it, showing they’re not a bad balling side, ending the game on a 13-1 scoring run to steal the win.
Mario Hezonja returned to the side after a 12-game spell on the sidelines, and secured the game-winning block on LeBron in scenes that made Madison Square Garden erupt. A sign of things to come next season for New Yorkers?
San Antonio Spurs
After the Spurs and head coach Gregg Popovich endured a tough February, picking up only three wins from 10 matches and losing against all their play-off rivals, this season’s future was looking bleak for San Antonio.
However, they’re on the best winning streak in the league at present, with eight wins on the bounce. Granted, most of those wins have come against sides that aren’t anywhere near contention for play-off places, let alone a championship, but you can only beat what’s in front of you.
The most notable wins all came at the AT&T Centre, on the home court. They’ve downed Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets and the league-best Milwaukee Bucks in recent weeks, with their latest W coming against Portland Trail Blazers.
They’ve taken an average record of 33-29 to 41-29 so far, and are looking to be in a far better position to secure a play-off spot. They’re sixth now, but they’re hunting down the Thunder just ahead.
LA Lakers & LeBron James
As if the 124-123 defeat to the New York Knicks at MSG wasn’t bad enough, television coverage highlighted star man LeBron James’ lack of commitment and enthusiasm towards his team during a time-out, a move which encouraged plenty of criticism for one of the all-time greats.
Walt ‘Clyde’ Frazier suggested on the MSG Network’s coverage that LeBron’s lack of effort to demonstrate he’s a part of the Lakers team goes a long way to showing “he doesn’t really care.”
It’s not the first time LeBron has been called into question, after reports of a fall-out with head coach Luke Walton. In recent months, it’s been reported that James has ‘humiliated’ Walton by taking the lead on coaching from the sideline, as in January it was rumoured the 15x All-Star demanded for the coach to get the sack.
The Lakers’ season ambitions have taken a huge hit following defeats to the Toronto Raptors, Detroit Pistons and Knicks in the last week. They’ve slipped 10 games behind city rivals LA Clippers, who currently occupy eighth in the Western Conference and hold the final play-off spot.
One week on from their four-game winning week, the Brooklyn Nets have hit the polar opposite and completed a three-match losing streak in a run that’s allowing other sides back in the play-off picture.
With a 36-33 record coming into the week, the Nets faced a tough task against the Utah Jazz, Thunder and Clippers at a crucial stage of the season.
It’s not been all bad for the Nets, though other players need to step up their game and match the level currently being shown by D’Angelo Russell. In the three defeats, he’s averaged 22 points a night, including a 32 point showing in the last-second defeat against the Clippers.
Coach Kenny Atkinson needs to get a grip on the Nets slide if they’re to maintain a play-off challenge. Their next two games should be winnable, where they’re on the road to the Sacramento Kings and LA Lakers. Win those two and they’re back in the play-off picture, but they face an outrageously tough run-in with games against the 76ers, Celtics, Raptors and two against the Bucks.
Selection of Tuesday’s matchups
Golden State Warriors @ San Antonio Spurs – Warriors to win -2.5 – 10/11
Denver Nuggets @ Boston Celtics – Nuggets to win is 6/4
Indiana Pacers @ Portland Trail Blazers – Blazers to win -4.0 – 10/11
New York Knicks @ Toronto Raptors – Raptors to win -11.5 – 10/11
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.