Sat, Dec 24, 10:19am by Staff Writer
It’s a late Christmas present for Aussie basketball fans, when the hardcourt action heats up with what could be the biggest game of the year as the Warriors clash with the Cavs. Out west we have the battle for Los Angeles as the Clippers take on the Lakers. At www.australiangambling.lv we have put together the best bets to keep you in a festive mood over the holidays.
Warriors @ Cavaliers
Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland- Monday 26 December, 6.30am AEDT
TV: Live on ESPN
Okay if you need an excuse to not have a few too many on Christmas Day, this is it. Set your alarm clocks, this has the potential to be the game of the year. The Warriors arrive in Cleveland for the final game of their Christmas road trip after taking on the Nets and the Pistons earlier in the week.
On paper the Warriors have been virtually unstoppable in the league and sit on the top of the standings of the Western Conference. After the successful integration of Kevin Durant into the side, the Warriors are leading virtually every offensive category in the league.
Expect this game to be a shootout. Kevin Durant is averaging 25.7 (PPG), Steph Curry a neat 25 (PPG). Draymond Green is on a mission to win the Defensive Player of the Year trophy with 2.3 steals per game and we can’t forget Klay Thompson setting a franchise point scoring record. The Warriors have been bullying sides out of the game with their scoring power, averaging 117 (PPG).
The Cavs have been equally as impressive in the Eastern Conference. The Cavs are the one side in the league that can go toe-to-toe with the Warriors and there will be no love lost between the two sides who played off in last year’s final series.
In Kyle Irving, JR Smith, Kevin Love, LeBron James and Tristan Thompson the Cavs have one of the most complete starting five in the league who can more than match the Warriors at the offensive end of the court.
The key matchup will be Kevin Durant on LeBron James. LeBron has been leading the Cavs offence with 25.4 (PPG) and nine assists. Cleveland have had no issues with scoring, holding a 110.5 (PPG) average.
There will be a lot of feeling in this game. I’m expecting a close contest and while the home court advantage may help I’m tipping the Warriors to remind the Cavs that they will be meeting again in March with a tough away win.
Clippers @ Los Angeles Lakers
Staples Centre, Los Angeles- Monday 26 December, 2.30pm AEDT
TV: Live on ESPN
Like Coach Petty, Clippers fans are going to be hoping for the swift return of Blake Griffin but will have to make do for now in the local derby with the Lakers. It has been a case of last man standing so far this season for the two teams from LA.
Both sides have suffered injuries to key players so far this season, and will be hoping that 2017 brings a change in fortunes. The Lakers will need to do this without Larry Nance Jr., who will be out of action for some time after a knee injury against the Hornets.
The Lakers have struggled into the Christmas period, they have been hot and cold offensively and have also lacked consistency on defence, conceding on average 110+ (PPG).
Lou Williams has been doing an admirable job leading the scoring with 18.8 (PPG) and we have seen glimpses of Brandon Ingram’s genius throughout the season. Given that the Clippers will be without Blake Griffin then there could be a case to start Ingram.
Chris Paul has stepped up his work rate for the Clippers this season averaging 9.7 assists and 2.2 steals per game. He has had good assistance from JJ Reddick who has been consistent with 15.5 (PPG).
For the Clippers to be successful they will need to find some consistency on the offensive end of the court and if they expect to be challenging the Warriors in March then they need to put down a marker with a big win over the Lakers.
The Clippers will need to keep the foot on throttle and not go easy against a Lakers side who do now how to score. I’m expecting the Lakers to continue on their losing streak and the Clippers to come away with the win.
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