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NBA Midweek Best: Celtics to come up big in battle for the East

Wed, Apr 5, 3:02pm by Staff Writer

It’s a big week in the East with Celtics duelling with the Cavs for the number one seed. The Cavs may be tired and banged up, but when have the champs not responded to a challenge? In the West, the Clippers get a chance to fine tune their game against the Mavericks. At we have you covered for the best bets.

Cavaliers @Celtics

TD Garden, Boston –  Thursday 6 April, 10.00am AEST

TV: Live on ESPN

If you believe the hype this is just another game for the Cavs. With the number one seeding in the East on the line, don’t believe that the champs will take this game lightly. For much of the season, the Cavs have had a mortgage on the top spot in the East, but now the Celtics are a genuine threat having surged half a game clear on top.

With back-to-back games, the Cavs will be careful to nurse their stars through to the playoffs with only five games left in the regular season. LeBron James continues to defy the odds in terms of court-time and output. Against the Pacers earlier in the week, LeBron hit the triple-double summit with 41 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists. The King then backed that up with another triple-double against the Magic.

The good news for the Cavs is that Kyle Korver returned to the court against the Magic, and could line-up potentially against the Celtics depending on how he pulls through.

For the Celtics, it will be interesting to see how the side can handle the expectation of leading the Eastern Conference. “I think we’ve got to treat it as another game, being No. 1 in the standings, you don’t feel different,” Isaiah Thomas said.

The Celtics breezed through back-to-back wins against the Magic and Knicks. The only concern for the is the elbow injury to Jae Crowder who could line-up against the champs.

In the betting market, the Celtics are a $1.80 favourite with the Cavs at $2.06.

This will be a close game and could be influenced by the shape of the Cavs line-up. There’s talk of resting a few key stars, but expect to Cavs to get physical and in the face of this young Celtics team. I’m tipping the Celtics to edge out the Cavs for the close win.

BEST BET: Celtics to win: $1.80

Mavericks @Clippers

Staples Centre, Los Angeles – Thursday 6 April 12.30pm AEST

TV: Live on ESPN

The Mavericks travel to Los Angeles looking to close out the season with a few wins before heading to the lottery. They have been playing some decent ball, and the numbers turned in their favour earlier in the week with tough win on the road over the Bucks (109-105).

They headed to LA via Sacramento, losing 98-87 to the Kings  having rested veteran Dirk Nowitzki as well as Seth Curry and Wesley Matthews. The hope is that they will come good for the game against the Clippers.

Harrison Barnes shapes as a key man for Mavs. Barnes had a day out earlier in the week against the Bucks with 31 points, including shooting 100% from the free-throw line.

The Clippers sharpened their claws with a win over the Lakers, and are riding a three-game winning streak that also included a good win over the Wizards. Clippers Coach Doc Rivers will be looking to iron out the wrinkles of his side before the playoffs.

The home side go into the match-up without Austin Rivers and big-man Diamond Stone but Blake Griffin will be looking to get into form before the playoffs. With fifth spot in the Western Conference still up for grabs, this won’t be a game the Clippers take lightly.

The Clippers are short-priced favourites at $1.18 with the Mavericks at $5.15.

The last time the Mavericks were in the City of Angels they snuck away from the Clippers with a two-point win. The means he last two games between the two sides have been decided by a single basket. With Griffin in form – he had had 36 points against the Lakers – it will be more clear cut this time around. I’m tipping the Clippers to beat the line in a solid win.

BEST BET: Clippers to win and cover the line (-10): $1.95

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