Toronto Raptors boast the best record in the NBA and their Championship credentials will face the acid test this week, when they come up against Golden State Warriors in a potential precursor to the Finals Series.
Golden State revival to continue (December 13th, 3:30am)
GSW struggled when Steph Curry was sidelined and lost their first game when he returned, but they are now back in form and can take advantage of a mini Raptors slump.
The Warriors (1.41 on the Moneyline) have won four in a row ahead of Toronto’s visit, including a 10-point win at Milwaukee Bucks, and can maintain their streak in front of their own fans at the Oracle Arena.
The Raptors (2.80) had been in awesome form but recent losses to the Denver Nuggets, the Bucks and Brooklyn Nets show they are beatable and Golden State will be looking to make a statement after their sluggish start. Toronto also had to pay on Wednesday night, which edges it further towards the hosts.
As mentioned earlier, this match-up could well be a preview for the NBA Finals, with the Warriors 1.57 to win the Championship and the Raptors 9.00.
Pacers can derail Bucks bid (December 13th, 0:00am)
The Bucks look genuine contenders in the East, along with the Raptors and an improving Boston Celtics, but they may come unstuck at Central Division rivals Indiana Pacers.
Milwaukee are the 1.28 favourites to win the division, but the Pacers shouldn’t be discounted at 5.00 just yet. Indiana have a 9-4 record at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse and have won six of their last seven at home.
The Bucks are 5-5 on the road, despite wins at Golden State and Toronto, and they may end up with a losing record overall on their travels after this latest trip to Indiana.
Lakers face Rockets test (December 14th, 1:00am)
Houston came the closest to denying the Warriors a second successive Championship last season, as the Rockets took GSW to seven games in the Western Conference Finals.
This season hasn’t gone to plan though for James Harden and co, and as things stand it looks as if they may even struggle to join the post-season party with a losing record overall.
At some point Houston are going to click into gear, they have too much quality not to, and the visit of the Los Angeles Lakers this week looks a good opportunity to lay down a marker against a big rival.
The Lakers have an outside chance of fighting for the Championship thanks to LeBron James’ arrival but they need to improve on the road, with a 6-6 record ahead of this meeting.
The Rockets have started to pick up at home and have collected wins over Golden State and the Pacers at the Toyota Center recently, and they are capable of adding the Lakers to their list of victims.
Houston are 15.00 to win the Championship and a big performance against LeBron and the Lakers could be just what they need to kick-start their season.