Our NBA Tips for the Weekend - 19/3/22

DeRozan Chicago Bulls NBA

James Budgen

Milwaukee Bucks @ Minnesota Timberwolves

The Milwaukee Bucks and Minnesota Timberwolves have been two of the best teams in the league since the all-star break, the Timberwolves have won 10 of their last 12 games, which has seen them climb to within 1.5 games of the 6th seed in the Western Conference, whilst the Bucks have won eight of their last ten which has moved them up to the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference.

It's the offence of the Timberwolves which has propelled them up the standings, in their last twelve games they have had an offensive rating of 121.8, which would rank five points ahead of the best in the NBA this season, whilst also having a defensive rating of 109.7, which would rank second in the league, which is really impressive for a team headed by players without much experience.

It’s also the Bucks’ offence that has seen them have their recent success, they have had an offensive rating of 123.8 in their last ten games, which would rank seven points ahead of the best in the NBA, but their defence has been lacking lately, they have had a defensive rating of 116.3 in their last ten games, compared to an average of 110.9 over the season.

The interesting matchup is reigning finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo vs Karl-Anthony Towns, they have both had amazing seasons, both making the all-star teams, and Towns is coming into this game just two games removed from a historic night for him, scoring a career and franchise-high 60 points against the San Antonio Spurs.

Memphis Grizzlies @ Houston Rockets

The Grizzlies and Rockets are at opposite ends in the Western Conference, with the Grizzlies sitting in the 2nd seed, whilst the Rockets are rock bottom in the 15th seed, but when the teams met on the 6th March, the Rockets came out shock victors, winning 123-112.

Despite only picking up two wins out of a possible eleven since the all-star break, the play of their number two overall pick from last year’s draft, Jalen Green, has been really promising, averaging 20.4 points per game, on 50% shooting, which is especially impressive considering 10 of the 11 teams they have faced are likely playoff-bound.

The Grizzlies don’t seem to be slowing down at all this season, the young squad keep on proving people wrong and winning games, playing great basketball, and every win matters now, especially if they want to lock up the 2nd seed, as the Golden State Warriors are just one game behind them.

What has helped them a lot this season is their deeply talented roster, which was on show against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night, where, despite being without star player Ja Morant, they still came out 135-102 victors, in Indiana.

New Orleans Pelicans @ Atlanta Hawks

Both the Pelicans and the Hawks occupy the 10th seeds in their respective conferences, but both teams are looking for wins to catch up the teams above them, with the Hawks only 1.5 games back of the Brooklyn Nets in the 8th seed, but the Pelicans only have the Los Angeles Lakers within touching distance of them, who are just a game ahead of them.

The Hawks have been very up and down this season, this has been due to their very poor defence, they have the 2nd best offensive rating in the lead, but the fourth-worst defensive rating in the lead, which has seen them massively drop off from last season which saw them reach the Eastern Conference Finals.

Despite scoring only nine points recently against the Charlotte Hornets, which still saw him grab 15 assists, Trae Young has been incredible recently for the Hawks, scoring 40 points in back-to-back games against the Pacers and the Portland Trail Blazers, and against an average Pelicans team, he will be looking to continue his great form.

The Pelicans have had injury troubles the whole season, missing their best player in Zion Williamson for the entire season, but as of late they have also missed their new acquisition in C.J McCollum and Brandon Ingram, who remains out for this game, and this has really affected their recent form, losing five of their last six games.

Boston Celtics @ Denver Nuggets

On the third game of the Celtic’s west coast road trip, they face Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets, who have won twelve of their last fifteen games, who host a much in-form Celtics side, who have won seventeen of their last twenty games.

The Celtics’ defence has been a massive talking point as of late, and for good reason, they now have overtaken the Warriors for the best defensive rating in the NBA, but their offence has also started to take off, and since February 1st, they have an offensive rating of 118.4, which would rank the best in the NBA.

A big component of this has been the ever-improving play of Jayson Tatum, who in the month of March, has averaged 35.1 points per game, which is only second to the red-hot Kyrie Irving.

Jokic is still on pace to win his second-straight MVP award, and his last two games were a massive step towards that, beating MVP rival and positional rival Joel Embiid in a closely contested encounter, and then in just 26 minutes against the Washington Wizards, he scored 29 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and dished out eight assists.

Toronto Raptors @ Philadelphia 76ers

An in-form Toronto Raptors who have won five games in a row are facing a 76ers side who after a great start to life with their new power duo in James Harden and Joel Embiid, are faltering somewhat, losing three of their last six games.

The Raptors’ good form has been spearheaded by the improved play from their one-time all-star Pascal Siakam, who in the month of March is averaging 26.7 points per game, 8.2 rebounds and 4.7 assists in nine games, shooting 50% from the field and a very impressive 45% from three-point range, which has seen the Raptors climb within 2.5 games of the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

After really impressing in his first few games with the 76ers, Harden has seen some struggles as of late, shooting a very poor 34.7% from the field in his last five games, but despite his teammates' struggles, Embiid is still dominating, averaging 34.8 points in his last five games, which has kept him in contention for the MVP award.

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