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Superb Celtics, Monitoring Clippers v Pelicans & An Embiid Update

The Celtics continue to play as the best team in the NBA, and while we’ve seen this all before, they look prepared for playoff success. Meanwhile, the Clippers and Pelicans are preparing for a postseason battle while Joel Embiid may yet feature in the East.

Supreme Celtics

The Boston Celtics are the best team in the NBA right now.

They’re $3.20 favourites to win the title, and their net rating is set to be among the best in league history when the regular season is done and dusted. Jaylen Brown has taken his play to another level after the All-Star break. Averaging 28.9 points, 6 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game since the All-Star game, the conversation is no longer a 1A and 1B scenario with Jayson Tatum. Instead, there is an argument for both being 1A.

Brown has been the better player of late. He’s been more aggressive and reliable. If the playoffs were to start today and the Celtics needed a big play late in the game, they’d look to Brown.

The Celtics are incredible from three-point range. They lead the league with 42.4 attempts per game, and their 38.7% shooting from beyond the arc is good for third overall. However, we’ve seen teams fall to pieces in the playoffs when they’re so heavily reliant on the three-ball. While it’s enough to dominate the regular season, playoff basketball is a different beast. You need more than one way to win a game.

We will need to see it in the post-season, but in Tatum, Brown and Kristaps Porzingis, the Celtics have the tools to win in different ways. They have been, of late. Boston’s 122.8 offensive rating is the best in the league. If the shots aren’t dropping or things aren’t quite so fluid on the offensive end, their 2nd-ranked defence, allowing only 111.4 points per 100 possessions, does the job. That defence is improving further to allow 108.9 points per 100 possessions in February and 108.3 points per 100 possessions in March.

The Celtics have been the best team in the NBA all season but barely rated a mention here. We’ve seen them do this throughout the regular season before. This one feels different now, though. There is less reliance on Tatum to generate the offence late in games. Brown is playing career-best basketball, while Porzingis adds some versatility without the pressure to produce he has faced in the past. Jrue Holiday, Derrick White and Al Horford, in particular, are an effective supporting case with clearly defined roles.

Boston’s recent history is a concern in the post-season. However, they’re favourites for a reason. They’re the best team in basketball right now and appear to have another level or two in them when the playoffs tip off.

Bet Now NBA Championship Winner - Boston Celtics @ $3.20

Pelicans v Clippers Watch

There is a lot to play out in the NBA’s regular season, but the LA Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans look likely to match up 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. They’re still the fourth seed in the Western Conference and at $6.50 to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy, but the road won’t be easy, especially if they face the Pelicans in the opening round of the postseason.

Currently the 5th seed in the West at 41-26 and two games up on the Phoenix Suns at 5th, the Pelicans have quietly gone about their work. Zion Williamson, with Victor Wembanyama taking over as the young physical freak taking the attention of the league, is playing incredible basketball.

Averaging 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and a career-high 5.1 assists per game in only 30.9 minutes per game, Williamson has finally found some consistency in his game. The most important number: 56 games.

He’s been able to stay on the floor and the Pelicans look a lot better for it. Against the Clippers, in particular.

With their 112-104 win over the Clips this week, the Pelicans are 3-1 over their probable playoff foe this season. Regular season records aren’t always an indicator of playoff success. This game, notably, didn’t feature James Harden. Still, it’s how the Pelicans have beaten the Clippers that builds confidence for later in the season.

Shifting McCollum onto the bench and playing with a big lineup in the last 3:33 of their latest win, the Pelicans may have unlocked a winning formula.

Final five possessions:

– Nance layup
– Murphy III missed 3
– Nance layup
– Williamson 1-from-2 free throws
– Williamson layup

The Pelicans are $1.04 to make the playoffs – lock them in. If they hold their spot to play the Clippers in the First Round, we could be in for a classic. Tyrone Lue will cook up a response to the big-body lineup, but there is only so much you can do to stop Williamson when he’s playing like this.

Strap yourselves in.

An Embiid Update

We’re into the ‘jostling for position’ portion of the NBA season. Whether it be for playoff seeds or the draft, every game has a big impact on the standings.

Joel Embiid’s injury killed the Philadelphia 76ers’ championship hopes, but they may still be a problem in the playoffs. Currently the 7th seed in the East and $1.06 to make the Play-in Tournament, teams at the top of the standings will be keeping an eye on the Embiid situation.

As it stands, Nick Nurse is “pretty confident” that Embiid will be back with the team before the playoffs.

Look out, Celtics (1st in the East) and Milwaukee Bucks (2nd).

Without Embiid, the 76ers are more than likely first-round fodder. Neither the Celtics nor the Bucks should have a problem getting past an Embiid-less 76ers. With him, however, they’re a possible nightmare.

Embiid was a candidate to win the Most Valuable Player award before his injury. He’s an offensive force on his own, while his defence around the rim forces teams to take difficult shots. The sort that can derail a series should the three-ball not fall. He doesn’t have long to get healthy. We’d want to see him play four or five games before walking into the cauldron that is playoff basketball.

The Embiid situation is one to watch, though. His return would throw a massive spanner into the early rounds of the postseason.

Another Game, Another Wemby Record

NBA Most Valuable Player Update

There has been little change in the MVP market as Nikola Jokic remains the $1.28 favourite. It might not be the pick people want, but it would be difficult to argue with should he be handed his third MVP in four seasons.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would be the popular pick around the NBA. At $4.50 and with the Thunder neck-and-neck with the Nuggets at the top of the Western Conference, he’s still a chance to make a late run and benefit from the recency bias that can often plague voters in a close contest.

The numbers Luka Doncic is putting up won’t matter until they translate into Dallas Mavericks wins. Down as the 8th seed and three games behind the Pelicans at 5th—where he needs to climb if he’s to be considered a low-seed chance—Doncic is out at $9.

TOP 6 NBA CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS

TEAMCURRENT PRICELAST WEEK’S PRICE
Boston Celtics$3.20$3.10
Denver Nuggets$3.90$5
LA Clippers$6.50$4.60
Milwaukee Bucks$8$8
Oklahoma City Thunder$18$17
Phoenix Suns$28$17
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