The Golden State Warriors have not had a great start to the NBA season. With Stephen Curry struggling and Draymond Green injured, the former champions have gotten off to a 2-3 start, with all three defeats embarrassing blowouts.
The Portland Trail Blazers were the latest team to hand the Warriors a thorough beating and they will be eager to pick up another big win to sweep their mini two-game series at home.
Meanwhile, the West-leading Suns face a big test when they face Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers, and Kevin Durant will reunite with old running mate Russell Westbrook when the Brooklyn Nets host the Washington Wizards.
As always, SBOTOP breaks down all of those interesting matchups, as well as the rest of the games on the NBA schedule for Jan. 4.
Boston Celtics @ Detroit Pistons
The Celtics will be looking to avenge their loss to the Pistons in their first meeting of the season last week. Despite missing star forward Blake Griffin, the Pistons still beat Boston, 96-93, to get their first win of the season in five games.
With Griffin out due to the concussion protocol, Jerami Grant led the way with 24 points for the Pistons. It remains to be seen whether Griffin will be able to return for their second game against Boston.
The Celtics have been struggling to find consistency thus far this season. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are both putting up impressive numbers, but they are struggling to find a reliable third scorer without All-Star point guard Kemba Walker.
Still, Boston are a better team than the Pistons, and they should be ready to bounce back and get a split in Detroit.
Washington Wizards @ Brooklyn Nets
Like the Pistons, the Wizards also picked up their first win of the season on New Year’s Day as they thumped the Timberwolves, 130-109. With Russell Westbrook out, Bradley Beal continued his hot start to the season with a team-high 31 points and 7 assists in just 28 minutes.
However, it should be noted that they faced a Timberwolves team that is struggling without star big man Karl-Anthony Towns. The Wizards are not going to be quite as lucky as they face Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and the Nets.
Brooklyn have cooled off a bit from their impressive start. They are just 1-3 in their last four games as they split their two-game series against the high-flying Hawks. But the Wizards have been quite awful defensively this season, which should allow Durant, Irving and co. to get back on track with a convincing win.
Betting Tip: Brooklyn Nets Asian Handicap -8.50 @ 1.89
Los Angeles Lakers @ Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies are still putting up a fight despite the absence of star point guard Ja Morant. They bounced back from their blowout loss at Boston to beat the Hornets, 108-93, on the road.
However, the NBA 2021 betting odds will be heavily against the shorthanded Grizzlies when they face the Lakers. The defending champions bounced back from their defeat to the Blazers to sweep their recent two-game series away to the Spurs.
Despite a shortened offseason, LeBron James is still playing at his usually high level and recently recorded his first triple-double of the season. He should have relatively few problems leading the Lakers to a comfortable win over the Morant-less Grizz.
Denver Nuggets @ Minnesota Timberwolves
After reaching the West finals last year, the Nuggets suddenly find themselves in last place in the conference with a 1-4 record through five games.
While their offence — led by All-Star Nikola Jokic — has remained strong, their defence has taken a significant decline.
The Nuggets were without starting forward Michael Porter Jr. in their most recent 106-103 defeat at home to the red-hot Suns due to COVID protocols, and it’s questionable whether he will be able to return for their game against the Timberwolves.
But even without Porter, Denver should still have more than enough to beat Minnesota, who have lost by an average of 26.7 points in their last three games without All-Star Towns.
Betting Tip: Minnesota Timberwolves Asian Handicap +8.50 @ 1.98
Utah Jazz @ San Antonio Spurs
The Jazz picked up their biggest win of the young season last time out as they beat a full-strength Clippers team at home, 106-100.
Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic are still struggling with their shooting, but Mike Conley has been doing his best to carry the offence. The veteran point guard had 33 points and 7 3-pointers against the Clippers and is averaging 21.4 points on the season.
The Jazz will be eyeing their first winning streak of the season when they face the Spurs, who have lost three in a row after starting the season with back-to-back wins. Granted, two of those losses were against the Lakers.
The Spurs were also shorthanded in both games, with LaMarcus Aldridge missing due to a knee injury. But even if Aldridge does return, he will have his hands full against former Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert.
Dallas Mavericks @ Chicago Bulls
The Mavericks started the New Year with a 93-83 win over the Heat. Luka Doncic led the way with 27 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists. However, Doncic is still not shooting the ball particularly well, especially from beyond the arc. His struggles are a major reason why Dallas’ offence – which was historically great last season – has gotten off to a slow start.
But Doncic should be able to get a few more open looks when the Mavs visit the Bulls, who are 2-4 on the season. Chicago’s defence has been awful this season; they’re giving up 123.5 points per game, second-worst behind the Warriors.
LA Clippers @ Phoenix Suns
The Suns find themselves on top of the West standings with a 5-1 record through six games. They won their fourth straight game after a close 106-103 win over the Nuggets.
Deandre Ayton had by far his best game of the season with 22 points and 11 rebounds, while the backcourt of Devin Booker and Chris Paul combined for 43 points.
The Suns will be eager to extend their winning streak at home against the Clippers, who couldn’t get past the Jazz in their latest outing.
Kawhi Leonard and Paul George will both be looking make some NBA 2021 highlights after a rough shooting night against the Jazz which saw them go just 14-of-41 (34 per cent) combined from the field.
Betting Tip: LA Clippers Asian Handicap -2.00 @ 1.95
Portland Trail Blazers @ Golden State Warriors
Speaking of the struggling Warriors, they were handed another thorough 123-98 beating by the Blazers last week, which snapped their two-game winning streak. Draymond Green finally made his season debut, but he was a non-factor with 0 points in 18 minutes of play.
Stephen Curry has not shot the ball well from long range thus far – he’s only shooting 32 per cent on 3-pointers – while Kelly Oubre Jr. has also struggled mightily with his shot.
The Blazers will now look to sweep their mini-series in San Francisco. Damian Lillard rediscovered his shooting stroke as he had 34 points and 6 3-pointers — both season-highs.
Betting Tip: Portland Trail Blazers Asian Handicap -5.00 @ 1.96
Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.
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