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Golden State Has A Problem, Sabonis’ Streak & Clippers Capitulating

The Houston Rockets are giving the Golden State Warriors all sorts of problems as the NBA regular season comes to a close. Meanwhile, Domantas Sabonis sets a new record, and the LA Clippers produce more of the same.

Golden State, We Have A Problem

The Golden State Warriors are 39-34 for the 10th seed in the Western Conference. For the last fortnight or so, the conversation has revolved around their place in the play-in tournament and what that does to the mentality of teams towards the top of the standings. The likes of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Oklahoma City Thunder have exceeded expectations to be among those teams contending for the No.1 seed, only to play the Warriors in the first round…

While they might not be playing their best basketball right now, Steph Curry gives any team a chance in the playoffs, and we’ve seen enough positive glimpses throughout the regular season that anything is possible for the Warriors.

However, they might not even be there…

The Houston Rockets won’t go away.

The Rockets were 25-34 and seven games back on the 10th seed on March 1st. Entertaining and interesting, they felt like a middling team neither good enough to make the playoffs nor bad enough to be a chance of a top pick in the NBA Draft. Now, they’re a team nobody would want to face in the first round of the playoffs.

The Rockets are coming. They’ve won 11 in a row and 13 of their last 14. Throughout that span, they’ve played with the third-best net rating in the league—second in offensive rating and fifth in defensive rating. Much of their improvement has come with Jalen Green at the forefront.

On the trade block earlier in the year, the 22-year-old looks like a future star of the league. He has gone nuts in March to average 28.5 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game. He’s played with an impressive 19.3 plus-minus while shooting 42.9% from beyond the arc.

It’s worth noting that they’ve done all of this without Alpren Sengun. The star centre, averaging 21.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and five assists per game, was ruled out for the rest of the season with a Grade 3 ankle sprain two weeks ago. However, with the prospects of playoff basketball all of a sudden in the picture, he could still yet make a return.

Plenty have put Green’s improvements down to Sengun’s absence, but Ime Udoka disagrees. He sees a place for both on this team moving forward. Should Sengun return with a few games to spare while the Rockets sneak into the Play-in, they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Sabonis’ Streak

With yet another double-double against the Philadelphia 76ers earlier in the week, Domantas Sabonis now has the longest streak since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976-77.

His 11 points and 13 rebounds made it 54 double-doubles in a row.

Sabonis has since added another two to push the streak out to 56.

His overall numbers are incredible. Averaging 19.6 points, 13.6 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game, he’s on track to become the only player alongside Wilt Chamberlain to average such numbers. Now, we just need to see if it translates into playoff basketball.

As it stands, the Sacramento Kings are significant outsiders to make a run at the NBA championship at $101.

Make It Stop

They’re not the worst team in the NBA, but with expectations set so high before the season tipped off, this one just needs to end for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Injuries have killed any chance of building into next season. There was a point where you could spin some positives into Ja Morant’s injury. It could have given the role players an opportunity to develop and make a genuine run upon Morant’s return next season. However, there have simply been too many of those role players to feature.

When players have little to no understanding of the Grizzlies’ schemes and coach Taylor Jenkins’s style, it’s no wonder they’re struggling for results.

Their latest: a 30-point hammering at the hands of the Orlando Magic, who, and one stage, led 79-37 halfway through the third quarter.

It’s not where the Grizzlies expected to be, but they’re now at $11.50 to be drawn the No.1 overall pick in the NBA Draft.

Clippers Capitulating

A fortnight ago, we highlighted the potential battle between the LA Clippers and the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the playoffs.

“The Clippers have stalled somewhat, going 6-7 since the All-Star break. Injuries have been an issue, but the championship shine that started to show throughout December and January has dimmed slightly.”

The shine is all but gone now…

Tyrone Lue’s team is 11-12 in its last 23 games. Worse still, it’s 1-10 in its last 11 against the top six seeds in the West.

The Clippers had their period where, for a second, the doubters started to question whether or not what seemed inevitable for a team with Russell Westbrook and James Harden would play out as expected.

Unsurprisingly, it’s playing out that way. The Clippers look more and more like a playoff speed bump than championship contenders despite their $8 to win it.

There is too much bad history in the post-season for too many players in this group. Had they flown into the playoffs, you could argue things have changed. Instead, the Clippers look set to limp in and hope that Kawhi Leonard can drag them through the West.

NBA Championship Odds Update

There is no moving the Boston Celtics as favourites to win the NBA championship. Currently $2.88, they will enter the post-season on the first line of betting.

The Denver Nuggets are their biggest threat at $3.90, but there is a sizable drop to the third line where the Milwaukee Bucks and LA Clippers sit at $8. That might be a generous $8 for the Clippers, too…

Young and capable of anything, the Oklahoma City Thunder shortened to $13 from $18 a week ago. Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks drifted out to $21 but remain as a team to watch over the next fortnight.

Elsewhere on the list, the Minnesota Timberwolves can’t quite get themselves into the conversation at $26. The Phoenix Suns’ $26 will change depending on how they navigate a horror schedule to finish the season.

Joel Embiid’s potential return adds some interest to the Philadelphia 76ers at $31. Provided they make it through the Play-in Tournament and into the playoffs, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers will demand some attention at $41.

TOP 6 NBA CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS

TEAMCURRENT PRICELAST WEEK’S PRICE
Boston Celtics$2.88$3.10
Denver Nuggets$3.90$3.70
Milwaukee Bucks$8$8.50
LA Clippers$8$6.50
Oklahoma City Thunder$13$18
Dallas Mavericks$21$18
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