Our NBA Tips for the Weekend - 2/4/22

DeRozan Chicago Bulls NBA

James Budgen

Miami Heat @ Chicago Bulls

With the play-offs just a couple of weeks away, both the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat are looking to secure their seeding spots in the Eastern Conference, with the Heat looking to secure the first seed for the first time in nine years, whilst the Bulls are starting to overcome their injury struggles to try and climb into the top four seeds.

The Heat have overcome their little incident between head coach Erik Spoelstra and Jimmy Butler which saw them lose four straight games, seeing them win their last two, including an impressive 106-98 victory against the high-flying Boston Celtics, which saw them limit them to only 15 points in the fourth quarter.

The Bulls have had their struggles since the all-star break, losing 11 of their last 18 games, which has seen them drop to the fifth seed, but the recent return of last season's number four pick Patrick Williams, and the hopeful near return of Lonzo Ball gives Bulls’ fans some hope for the play-offs.

Their hopes do hang on star player DeMar DeRozan, whose recent performances have vastly improved after a little cold streak, and his recent performances against the Los Angeles Clippers was really impressive, with DeRozan scoring 50 points.

Charlotte Hornets @ Philadelphia 76ers

After a great start to life with James Harden and Joel Embiid, the 76ers are starting to struggle with their star duo, losing their last three games, including a loss to the 14th seeded Detroit Pistons, whereas the Hornets have overcome some mid-season struggles and are in very good form, winning eight of their last 10 games.

Harden after his hot start in Philadelphia has really struggled to stamp his mark on his new team, which has seen him in his last eleven games only shoot only 36.6% from the field and 30.4% from three-point range, meaning for the 76ers to have any hope of a title this season, Harden has to massively improve.

For the Hornets their offence has been out of this world in their last ten games, seeing them have an offensive rating of 124.6, which would eight points better than the best in the league this season, with last year's rookie of the year Lamelo Ball averaging 22.2 points, 8.8 assists and 5.8 rebounds in the last 10 games.

Dallas Mavericks @ Milwaukee Bucks

Last year's finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is making a last-minute push to be this year’s regular-season MVP, and this game against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks could further emphasise his case to win his third MVP if he puts in another great performance.

Giannis’s last two games have almost cemented him as the best player in the league, back to back wins with 40 point games against the 76ers with Harden and Embiid and the Brooklyn Nets with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving has put the league on notice with only six games left until the playoffs begin.

The Mavericks are continuing their surge up the Western Conference, with them now overtaking the Golden State Warriors to become the 3rd seed, and it’s Doncic’s MVP-Esque play that is really lifting them up the table, averaging 9.3 rebounds and 7.4 assists in his last fifteen games.

Denver Nuggets @ Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James and the Lakers are facing an uphill battle to get into the play-in tournament for a chance to make the play-offs, but with one of the toughest schedules in the league for their remaining games it is looking less than likely, and in this run, they are facing off against last year’s MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.

Despite LeBron James having a historic season at the age of 37, averaging 30.1 points per game, leading the league, the Lakers have been really struggling lately, losing 26 of their last 36 games with a defensive rating of 118.8, the second-worst rating in the league in this period, which has seen them drop to the 11th seed in the Western Conference.

Jokic has been carrying this Nuggets side all season, without his next two best players Michael Porter jr and Jamal Murray, and it looks like they can still manage to move up to the fourth seed in the Western Conference, with both the Utah Jazz and Warriors in front of them who have both been really struggling lately, making this game even more important for MVP candidate Jokic.

New Orleans Pelicans @ Los Angeles Clippers

With the Clippers sitting eighth in the Western Conference and the Pelicans ninth, this is likely a preview of a matchup in the play-in tournament, meaning that this is a game that both teams would want to win to gain confidence ahead of their potential matchup.

The Pelicans after acquiring CJ McCollum at the trade deadline have become one of the best offensive teams in the league, having a 119.5 offensive rating in their last twenty games, the fifth-best in that period, all this without their best player Zion Williamson is very impressive and it could make them a threat to some teams if they make the play-offs.

The Clippers have recently welcomed back one of their star players Paul George just in time to maybe make a deep play-off run after hanging around the play-off spots without having their two best players for most of the season, and their capabilities were shown in George’s first game back, beating the fifth seed Jazz, which saw George score 34 points, which included 20 in the third quarter.

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