It’s a short week in the NBA as the action doesn’t resume following the All-Star break until Thursday. The favored exact NBA Finals matchup at Mybookie as of now is Milwaukee Bucks vs. Golden State Warriors at +270. No shock there as they lead the East and West, respectively. Here are two intriguing matchups this week. Check back for NBA odds.
Top NBA Betting Picks of the Week – February 18th
🎥 LeBron James talks about playing with Dwyane Wade one last time, and gearing up for the final stretch of the season. pic.twitter.com/VXyw06qO4K— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) 18 de febrero de 2019
Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers
- When: Thursday, 10:30 PM ET (TNT)
Houston entered the break off a 10-point loss in Minnesota, but James Harden kept his 30-point streak going with 42 points. Harden scored 30 or more points for the 31st consecutive game, tying Wilt Chamberlain for the second-longest streak in league history. He’s never catching Wilt’s No. 1 streak, though.
Harden shot 15 of 34 from the field, including 8 of 22 from 3-point range. He passed the 30-point mark on his 15th four-point play of the season, getting Josh Okogie in the air with a step-back 3 to put Houston up 74-67 midway through the third. It was also his 22nd 40-point game of the season.
The Rockets are taking 48.2% of their shots from beyond the arc, No. 1 in the NBA, and a whopping 39.3% of their makes have been unassisted — the next-closest mark is the Blazers with 22.7% unassisted. That’s almost all attributable to Harden, whose 22 attempts from deep vs. the Wolves were the third-most all season behind himself (23) and Klay Thompson (24).
Coach Mike D’Antoni said C Clint Capela is expected to practice this week to determine if he can play Thursday. Capela missed his 15th game with a right thumb injury suffered at Orland on Jan. 13.
Los Angeles enters on a two-game skid after being upset 117-113 in Atlanta on Tuesday. Rajon Rondo acknowledged that the Lakers have been struggling on the defensive end of the floor as of late.
“We’ve given up a lot of points the last however many games — eight to 10 games — and it’s just been a shootout, and we haven’t won many of the shootouts,” Rondo said. “So we’ve got to find a way to get a different dynamic as far as defensively to get stops.” L.A. is just 3-7 in its past 10 games.
Houston looks for its second-ever season sweep of the Lakers, winning the first three meetings. The Rockets are averaging 129.3 ppg (45.6% FGs) while Lakers are averaging 120.0 ppg (51.1% FGs). Houston is averaging 9.3 more 3-pointers made per game in the series. In addition, the Rockets have more free throws made (76) than L.A. even has attempts (75). Harden is averaging 44.7 points vs. the Lakers this season and Chris Paul 21 points and 9 assists. LeBron James is averaging 26.5 points but missed one game.
Houston has won 21 of the past 27 meetings after losing 15 of the previous 21 games. The Rockets are looking to win four straight in L.A. for just the third time in the series history.
San Antonio Spurs at Toronto Raptors
- When: Friday, 7 PM ET (ESPN)
It’s the return of DeMar DeRozan to Toronto. In a July shocker, the Raptors landed Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green from San Antonio for DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a protected 2019 first-round pick. That pick isn’t going to be available because it’s protected 1-20, meaning the Spurs will get two second-round picks. That deal turned out to be a steal for the Raptors. Then again, DeRozan is under contract a few more years. Leonard could leave in free agency this summer.
Toronto visited San Antonio on Jan. 3 and the Spurs rolled to a 125-107 victory. DeRozan had his first career-triple double (think he was motivated?) with 21 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists. He became the first San Antonio player with a triple-double at home since Tim Duncan in 2003. After leading by as many as 26 points in the first half, San Antonio opened the second half on a 12-0 run to take a 79-51 lead.
Spurs fans welcomed back Leonard with thunderous jeers for forcing his way out. Leonard scored 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 23 points for San Antonio, Bryn Forbes added 20, Derrick White 19 and Rudy Gay 13.
The Raptors have won six in a row, however, their fifth winning streak of five or more games this season. Toronto is 16–6 (.727) against teams from the Western Conference – the best record for any team versus the West this season. Toronto is a perfect 6-0 in February and already secured its 15th consecutive winning month — the longest current streak in the NBA. The only other double-digit streak of that kind in Raptors history was 11 straight winning months from Apr. 2015 through Dec. 2016. Toronto is currently averaging 119.7 points (third in the NBA) this month. Pascal Siakam and Kawhi Leonard lead the team averaging 22.5 and 20.5 points, respectively, in February.
The Raptors are 9-4 in games decided by three points or fewer. Toronto’s nine wins are tied with Brooklyn for second most in the NBA behind Denver (10). The Raptors were 5-7 in similar games last season.
Expert NBA Betting Predictions
Go Raptors and Lakers.