Fri, Mar 23, 1:55pm by Staff Writer
Two games with playoff implications feature on ESPN Australia’s coverage of the 2017-18 NBA season this weekend.
On Saturday afternoon, the red-hot Portland Trailblazers host the Boston Celtics.
On Sunday, the New Orleans Pelicans visit the league-leading Houston Rockets.
Boston Celtics at Portland Trailblazers
Saturday, 24 March 2018 at 1pm AEDST
The Blazers have won nine of their past 10 games and sit in third spot in the Western Conference.
Their 44-27 record has surprised many in the league, with Terry Stotts’ team looking likely to have home court advantage in a first round playoff series.
The Celtics have had a tremendous season, despite losing off-season recruit Gordon Hayward in the first game of the season.
The Celtics have compiled a 48-23 record, but have had to do so without Kyrie Irving in recent times, with the point guard missing due to a knee injury.
Irving will not travel with the Celtics on their upcoming road trip, and his omission is a costly one for Boston.
The Celtics are 4.5 games behind the Raptors for top seed, but six games clear of the third seeded Cavaliers.
There is no need for Boston to rush Irving back, with the team all but assured a top two finish in the East.
Portland have been riding the hot hand of point guard Damien Lillard, who has been a machine from the free throw line since the All Star Break and has nailed a three-point bucket in 52 straight games.
Portland have one of the league’s best home records at 24-11 and we expect them to notch another win at home on Saturday afternoon.
Back the Blazers at the handicap, giving away no more than seven points.
Best bet- Portland Trailblazers at -7 or lower on the handicap at $1.95 at Sportsbet
New Orleans Pelicans versus Houston Rockets
Sunday, 25 March 2018 at 11am AEDST
The Houston Rockets (57-14) are four games clear of Golden State for top seed in the Western Conference, with only 11 games remaining on the schedule.
The Warriors are dealing with injuries to their three key players at present, with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson all missing.
The Rockets on the other hand have been injury free for some time, with Chris Paul and James Harden forming a dynamic duo, which is sure to lead Harden to MVP honours this season.
The Pelicans have had no such luck with injuries this season. When forward DeMarcus Cousins went down with an Achilles injury just before the All Star break, the Pelicans playoff fortunes were essentially discounted.
Fast forward six weeks and New Orleans are 12 games over 0.500 (42-30) and have won three straight games.
Anthony Davis has been tremendous in this late season surge, but the Rockets will provide a stern test for New Orleans on Sunday morning.
New Orleans have played Houston closer than most this season, winning one match and losing the other two by only six and seven points respectively.
Being on the road, we expect New Orleans to be giving up a sizeable handicap, but the Pelicans have shown they can hit long range shots and be a potent offensive team just like the Rockets.
Back the Rockets in the Big Win Little Win 1-10 market, with the line expected to be near double digits in this one.
Best bet- Houston Rockets Big Win Little Win 1-10 at Sportsbet
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