Fri, Mar 30, 11:24am by Staff Writer
With less than two weeks remaining in the 2017-18 NBA regular season, the eight playoff teams in the Eastern Conference are set, the Detroit five games behind eighth placed Milwaukee with only six games to play.
In the West, the Los Angeles Clippers have overtaken Denver for ninth position, but will need a few more wins to sneak into the top eight which is a logjam from fourth to eighth.
This weekend ESPN Australia features three matches including a double header on Saturday. From 11am the Cavaliers host New Orleans followed by the LA Clippers visit to Portland.
On Sunday, it is a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview when Toronto visit Boston from 9.30am.
New Orleans Pelicans at Cleveland Cavaliers
Saturday, 31 March 2018 at 11am AEDST
After their lowest scoring performance of the season in Miami on Wednesday, the Cavs bounced back with a comfortable win against the Charlotte Hornets.
They now take on a Pelicans team who are desperate for a win, despite currently occupying fifth position in the standings.
The Pelicans season was dead and buried according to many when All Star forward DeMarcus Cousins succumbed to an Achilles injury.
It has in fact been the total opposite, with the Pelicans becoming one of the surprise playoff teams in the Western Conference.
At 43-32, they are 11 games over 0.500 they aren’t guaranteed a playoff place just yet with their final three matches at Golden State, LA Clippers and San Antonio.
There is nobody on the Cav’s roster that can match up with Anthony Davis and we expect the big man to dominate on Saturday and lead New Orleans to victory.
Best bet- New Orleans Pelicans to win at Sportsbet
LA Clippers at Portland Trailblazers
Saturday, 30 March 2018 at 1.30pm AEDST
The Portland Trailblazers have been superb since the turn of the New Year led by sixth year point guard Damien Lillard.
Lillard has put up superb numbers averaging over 25 points per game as he has led the Blazers to third seed in the Western Conference.
A highlight of Portland’s play has been their offensive rebounding and second chance points, where they are top five in the NBA.
The LA Clippers are one game outside of the playoff standings, but don’t hold the tiebreak with Utah at the moment.
LA have seven matches remaining and only two road games including Saturday’s trip to Portland.
Their remaining fixtures include matches against playoff teams on the edge such as San Antonio, Utah, Denver and New Orleans.
LA won their first four games of the season before going through an awful patch in December losing nine in a row.
After trading former number one draft pick Blake Griffin to Detroit, many expected the Clippers to fade but they have done the opposite.
They have won three consecutive games and look a good chance to steal a playoff spot late in the season.
Portland have been close to unstoppable at home this season, with many of their wins coming at the Moda Center of late.
We are going to back the Clippers who will be a desperate side on Saturday to cover the line and maybe even sneak home for a win.
Best bet- LA Clippers to cover handicap
Toronto Raptors versus Boston Celtics
Sunday, 1 April 2018 at 9.30am AEDST
The Boston Celtics continue to play undermanned but continue to produce incredible wins. Thursday’s last gasp win against the high-flying Utah Jazz was capped off by a Jaelyn Brown three-pointer with 0.1 seconds left.
The win leaves the Celtics just three games behind the Raptors in their pursuit of the number one seed.
Boston have the best road record in the Eastern Conference at 28-10 and also lead the NBA in the most go-ahead field goals in the final five seconds of a game, with five.
This match will be close but without Kyrie Irving, who do the Celtics turn to down the stretch?
The Raptors have DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, two players who have been fine regular season players for Toronto in recent seasons, but have disappointed during playoffs.
This match means more to Toronto than it does to Boston because the Raptors need to make a statement and win at the TD Garden.
Boston is returning from a West Coast road trip and may be a little leg weary.
We are happy to take the Raptors, who should open as small favourites here.
Best bet- Toronto Raptors to cover handicap
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