This week in the NBA: Tale of two teams in LA
Odds and review of the NBA action
The play-off picture is close to being decided in the West, with Sacramento Kings left as the only team with a negative record to have an outside chance of clinching a play-off spot.
Four spots have been decided in the Eastern Conference, but there are still seven teams in contention for the remaining four with eight games to go.
We won’t be seeing one of the greatest players of the game in the play-offs this season though, after LeBron and the Lakers were eliminated from contention.
We’ve got some odds on Tuesday’s fixtures, as well as taking a look back at the past week in the NBA…
For the first time since the 2000/01 season, the Milwaukee Bucks have managed to clinch not only an early play-off berth, but they’ve sewn up the Central Division too.
They’re showing no signs of slowing down either, currently sat four games ahead of Toronto Raptors in second place in the East, it shouldn;t be too long before they clinch the Eastern Conference title too.
The team has really clicked this year, and Giannis Antetokounmpo has stepped up into a leadership role, which he’s flourishing in. If James Harden wasn’t putting up the numbers he is every single week, the Greek Freak would already have the MVP award by his side.
The addition of Eric Bledsoe to the side has just seen their form pick up even further, and become a much more formidable side. They’re a force to be reckoned with, and while the Golden State Warriors are still favourites to win another ring in 2019 at 2/9, the Bucks are second in the running at 9/1.
Kris Middleton is another who is finally getting the praise he deserves. He ‘perfectly compliments’ Giannis, according to NBA veteran Ronny Turiaf, creating and running plays that gives the Greek Freak the ability to shine.
What a time for the Clippers to hit red-hot form. It’s always good starting the season strong, like their city rivals the Lakers did, but it’s more important to have a strong run-in.
They’ve won five straight, and lost only once in their last 10 so they’re unlikely to slip-out from the play-off spots now.
Lou Williams has found himself some impressive form too, going for 29 points in their last win over the New York Knicks in the same week as his game-winning three against the Brooklyn Nets.
The Clippers backroom compiled a team that complement each other and play as a team should. It’s something the Lakers backroom should look to follow.
For a second week on the spin, the LA Lakers fall into the category of league losers. This time, there’s no denying it’s fully deserved.
After a 111-106 defeat to the Brooklyn Nets, Luke Walton’s side officially fell out of play-off contention. It has been coming, and they’ve not been performing to the level expected of them early in the season, but this news still comes as a shock.
It means it’s the first time since 2005 that LeBron James will not be seen in the play-offs. It’s particularly shocking given that LeBron left his Cleveland comforts to turn the Lakers into an NBA force again, but it’s a dream which has not been delivered.
In the off-season, they’ll need to regroup and look at where it all went wrong. In a season where things could have been so right, why has it all gone wrong?
Their summer recruitment wasn’t good enough, player power created an unnecessary tension, plus who can forget the humiliating public chase of Anthony Davis which didn’t go their way too.
After agreeing a buyout from his contract with San Antonio Spurs just a few weeks ago, the Spaniard has been a vital squad member for the Milwaukee Bucks in terms of experience for their play-off push.
However, in one of his final seasons in the NBA, Gasol will be devastated to pick up an injury this late in the season. He’s picked up a stress fracture in his left ankle, already missing five games, and not expected back until the start of the play-offs.
Though he’ll still have the post-season to look forward to, and will work hard to try and bring a ring to Milwaukee, the setback won’t help his push for a starter role for the Bucks, and he could be restricted to helping the coaching staff throughout the play-offs too depending on how his ankle takes to recovery.
Selection of Tuesday’s matchups
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Memphis Grizzlies – OKC to win -6.0 -10/11
Phoenix Suns @ Utah Jazz – Jazz to win -15.0 – 10/11
Brooklyn Nets @ Portland Trail Blazers – Nets to win is 2/1
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.