Saturday's 7 game slate in the NBA is headlined by a fantastic ESPN Australia double header featuring the Raptors and Blazers followed by the Bucks and Lakers. We preview the key games of the day and give our betting tips below!
The Raptors will play their sixth consecutive game at home on Saturday as they take on the Blazers from 12pm. they have won five out of those six games, th emost recent of which, a 23 point win over the Celtics on Wednesday. Kawhi Leonard returned to the line-up in that game after missing the Raptors loss to the Magic on Monday and had an immediate impact with 21 points and six rebounds. The Raptors currently sit 2nd in the Eastern Conference, just 2.5 games behind the Milwaukee Bucks but will play four of thier next five games away from home.
The Blazers have been fantastic since the All-Star break. They have won all four of their games, defeating quality opponents in the Nets, 76ers and Celtics all away from home and they will continue their seven game road trip Saturday against the Raptors. If they can pull out a win in Toronto, it's likely that they will go 7-0 over the roadtrip, with games against Charlotte and Memphis to come. The Blazers are in fourth place in the Western Conference, just half a game behind the Thunder and can jump into third with a win here.
The Raptors are at home on Saturday, however, they have been one of the worst teams in the league against the spread at home, maintaining just a 14-18 record in that department. The Blazers are in some fantastic form at the moment and we expect them to cover a line that seems a few points too high.
The Clippers and Kings are locked in a battle for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs. The Clippers currently hold a two game advantage over the Kings, but could quickly see that disappear if Sacramento can win at home on Saturday. The Kings have won just one game since the All-Star break but have had a horror run of opponents, facing off against the Warriors, Thunder, Timberwolves and Bucks in that time. The road gets a little easier from here for the Kings with two games against the Knicks in their next four and they'll look to claw back the deficit starting Saturday.
The Clippers are 2-2 since the All-Star break with wins over the Grizzlies and Mavericks and losses to the Nuggets and Jazz. Winning, however, might not be in the Clippers best interestes at the moment, as they will lose their first round draft pick if they make the playoffs. It's likely that we will see the Clippers start to tank slightly towards the last few months of the season in an attempt to get back into the draft lottery.
The Kings start as slight 2.5 point favourites here which we think is a little low. They have won just one game since the break but have been super competitive against some of the best teams in the league, highlighted by a marginal one point loss to the Bucks on Thursday. The Kings are the best home team against the spread in the league at 22-8-1 on the season and we expect them to cover here.
The second match of the ESPN Australia double header will see the Milwaukee Bucks travel to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers from 2.30pm. The Bucks maintain the best record in the NBA at 47-14 and will look to extend a six game winnings streak in LA. They 4-0 since the All-Star break with wins over the Celtics, Wolves, Bucks and Kings, three of them coming on the road. Mid-season recruit Nikola Mirotic has been in good form for the Bucks, averaging 14.8 points in his four games in the new uniform and providing valuable defence.
The Lakers find themselves in a tough position heading into the final few months of the season. With 21 games to play, they find themselves in 10th place in the Western Conference, a full three games behind the Clippers in the final playoff spot. They'll like need to win at least 13-14 of their last 21 games if they want to help super-star LeBron James make his 14th consecutive playoffs appearance. It should be tough for the Lakers though, as they have a difficult Western Conference schedule in the run home.
The Bucks have looked unstoppable since the break with super-star and MVP favourite Giannis Antetokounmpo at the helm surrounded by a lethal combination of three point shooters. We think the 4.5 point line is a little low here as they face off against a team that only just got past a depleted Pelicans lineup on Thursday.
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