On Jan. 22, 2006, former Lakers great Kobe Bryant scored 81 points in a win over Toronto, the second-most points in a game in NBA history. How far have the Lakers fallen since then? On Jan. 22, 2017, the team lost by 49 on Dallas, the worst loss in franchise in history. Sports are very cyclical! Here’s a look at three top NBA betting games this week.
This game is on TNT and could be an NBA Finals preview — I think it’s fair to say that the Spurs are the second-best team in the West behind Golden State and the Raptors are the second-best in the East behind Cleveland. So while I don’t expect the Spurs or Raptors to make the NBA Finals, all it takes is one injury to a key Warrior or Cavalier. I think the Raptors were caught looking ahead to this one when they were upset 115-103 at home by a bad Phoenix team on Sunday. The Suns trailed from the 2:13 mark of the second quarter until tying it at 95 with 7:29 to play. After DeMarre Carroll and Eric Bledsoe exchanged baskets, Phoenix went on an 18-6 run to take the game away from the Raptors. DeMar DeRozan led the way for Toronto with 22 points, but was forced to leave the game with 1:30 to play after rolling his ankle landing on a teammate’s foot. Obviously monitor that as it DeRozan can’t play then that would be big. The Spurs were very impressive Saturday with a 118-115 OT win in Cleveland. Kawhi Leonard scored a career-high 41 points, LaMarcus Aldridge had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and San Antonio won despite missing starters Tony Parker and Pau Gasol. It’s not clear if Parker will play here, but Gasol will not as he has a broken finger. This is also the second of a back-to- back for the Spurs as they were in Brooklyn on Monday. So Coach Gregg Popovich could rest a key starter or two here. Thus I like Toronto as long as DeRozan plays.
Houston Rockets at Boston Celtics, Wednesday
Not impossible this could be an NBA Finals preview as the Rockets are probably the third-best team in the Western Conference and have an MVP favorite in James Harden. The Celtics are most likely the No. 3 team in the East and have a red-hot point guard of their own in All-Star Isaiah Thomas. Boston will be a at a disadvantage here as it will be the second of a back-to- back for them after playing in Washington on Tuesday. These two teams met in Houston on Dec. 5 and the Rockets won 107-106. Harden scored 13 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter. and the Celtics’ Al Horford missed a shot just before the buzzer. The game was tied before Harden scored five straight points to make it 107-102 with less than a minute remaining. Harden is averaging 28.7 points (second in NBA), 11.6 assists (first in NBA) and 8.2 rebounds this season. Oscar Robertson (3 times) is the only player in NBA history to have averaged at least 28.0 ppg, 11.0 apg and 8.0 rpg in a single season. Go Houston here.
Oklahoma City at New Orleans, Wednesday
It’s always intriguing when two of the five best players in the NBA share the court and that will be the case here with Thunder All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook and Pelicans All-Star big man Anthony Davis. OKC is 2-0 vs. the Pelicans this year. On Dec. 4 in OKC, it was 101-92. Westbrook had his fifth straight triple-double at the time with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists. Davis had 37 points and 15 rebounds. On Dec. 21 in New Orleans, the score was 121-110. Westbrook had 42 points and 10 rebounds. Davis had 34 points and 15 rebounds. Will the Thunder have starting center Steven Adams for this one? He’s still dealing with a concussion and will be questionable. Jerami Grant has been starting for Adams and that’s a downgrade. Take the Pelicans here because I’m guessing Adams doesn’t play.