28 October 2019 23:12
Compared to last season, when LeBron James was the top name leading up to the NBA's free-agency period, this season doesn't figure to see as much of a seismic shift in the landscape. This year features some big names of its own: Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Kawhi Leonard and Kevin Durant. The fact that Leonard recently bought a 13,000 square foot home worth $13.3 million in Rancho Santa Fe, California really has the Raptors on edge, but general manager Masai Ujiri still believes Toronto's season-long sales pitch will end in their favor. Irving has been hurt, and there's been a rift with the other players who stepped up in his absence to get the team within one game of making the NBA Finals. He could sign with the Lakers because he mended fences with James, but Irving has always been drawn to the East coast.
Teams looking to make a late-season push meet Tuesday when the Charlotte Hornets host the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers (45-25) clinched a playoff spot Sunday with a win at Milwaukee, but are trying to reel in Toronto while staying ahead of Indiana in the highly competitive Eastern Conference. The Hornets (31-38) have fallen out of the top eight in the East and need to win in order to catch Miami for the final spot in the NBA playoff bracket. This model, which simulates every game 10,000 times, is crushing its NBA picks. It entered Week 23 of the 2018-19 NBA season with a sterling 253-195 record on all top-rated picks, returning well over $4,000 to anybody following them.
Although Embiid is out, the Sixers have plenty of firepower, including forward Tobias Harris, who has scored 23 and 34 against the Hornets this season when he was a member of the Clippers. Hornets spread to jump on, all from the model that has crushed its NBA picks, and find out. Two teams that started the season with playoff hopes but only one having made it so far, the best in the league Milwaukee Bucks (52-18), looking to bounce back after their latest home defeat, are hosting the Los Angeles Lakers (31-39), who are struggling and have won only once in their last 9 games and they seem to have lost all hopes of entering the postseason. Milwaukee Bucks have a 52-18 record (41-26-3 against the spread) so far this season and currently sit in the first place of the whole NBA. In their last game they saw a two-game winning streak getting snapped by losing at home against the Sixers with a 125-130 score, not beating the odds.
NBA Pacers vs Clippers Spread and Prediction NBA Nets vs Kings Spread and Prediction NBA Sixers vs Hornets Spread and Prediction With LeBron James fit and firing before Christmas, the Los Angeles Lakers looked every inch a playoff team, possibly one capable of seizing homecourt advantage for the first round of the postseason. 3:29 The Starters debate if LeBron James can revive the Los Angeles Lakers' playoff hopes It is the tough schedule the 28-29 Lakers face over their final 25 games in which they face 15 match-ups against teams with winning records, that will seal their fate. Image: LeBron James reacts after leaving a Lakers game with a groin injury And they still have to play the Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks (twice), Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, city rivals the Clippers (twice), Utah Jazz (twice), Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors. Even if LeBron is fit enough (and he's not back to 100 per cent yet) to tap into 'playoff mode' for the second time this season, it's tough to see where the Lakers will find those 17 wins. It's a lot to ask of one player, especially one with 1,182 NBA games to his name. James last missed the playoffs in the 2004/05 season, his second in the league. 'Paul George will win the regular season MVP' The 28-year-old is on course to shatter his career-high in points per game as he sits on 28.7 going into the final stretch of the season, five more than he averaged for the Indiana Pacers two years ago. George has scored smoothly, efficiently and within the flow of the Oklahoma City Thunder offense, while shedding a reputation for failing to deliver in the clutch by coming up with multiple game-winning plays. 0:18 Paul George hit the game-winning shot as the Oklahoma City Thunder snatched a dramatic win against the Philadelphia 76ers He has done that while leading the NBA with 2.3 steals per game and establishing himself as a contender for the Defensive Player of the Year award, as the Thunder have overcome a slow start to the season to rise to third in the Western Conference standings with a 37-20 record. George's all-round game, comeback from injury, pledge to a small-market team and burgeoning relationship with Westbrook will all combine to ensure he gets his hands on the NBA's most prestigious individual award. Philadelphia have too much ground to make up to overall the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors for the top two spots in the East, but their formidable starting five - boosted by the trade deadline acquisition of Tobias Harris - will power them past the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics by the end of the regular season. The Sixers' new-look starting line-up is already looking like a statistical monster, scoring 116.5 points per 100 possessions and allowing just 91.9 points per 100 possessions across the four games they have played together, per NBA.com/stats. 2:01 Joel Embiid went off for 37 points and 14 rebounds as the Philadelphia 76ers comfortably defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 'Sacramento will finish the season as California's second-best team and end the NBA's longest playoff drought' Nobody is knocking off the Golden State Warriors from the top of the Western Conference, let alone challenging their dominance as California's No 1 team any time soon, but the young Kings have every chance of finishing the season above both Los Angeles teams and ending their own 13-year postseason drought. The Clippers currently sit in the eighth and final playoff spot the Kings covet, but they gave up their best player Tobias Harris at the trade deadline and (because of a prior trade with Memphis, who subsequently traded that future pick to Boston) will keep their first-round pick if they miss out on the postseason. Sacramento are a statistical anomaly - they've posted a negative net rating (they score less points per 100 possessions than they concede) in each of the last three months yet ended each of those months with more wins than losses. 'The Utah Jazz will end the season with homecourt advantage for the first round of the playoffs' They've already suffered through the toughest parts of their schedule early in the season and their remaining 25 games represent the second easiest run left for any team. The Jazz's success in the stretch run will depend on their defense, led by center Rudy Gobert, which ranks fourth best in the NBA (105.4 points conceded per 100 possessions) and means, despite their league-average offense, they boast the league's ninth-best net rating (3.0). With games against the lowly New York Knicks, Phoenix Suns (three times), Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls ahead, that position should evolve into a top-four finish, resulting in homecourt advantage in the first round of the postseason. You can watch Houston Rockets @ Los Angeles Lakers, live on Sky Sports Arena from 3:30am. New York Knicks owner James Dolan instructed security to detain a fan who told him to "sell the team" after Saturday's loss to the Sacramento Kings at Madison Square Garden. Former Knicks player Charles Oakley is prohibited from entering Madison Square Garden following a run-in with Dolan in February 2016.