Our NBA Tips for the Weekend - 5/3/22

DeRozan Chicago Bulls NBA

James Budgen

Philadelphia 76ers @ Miami Heat

This is the first big test for the 76ers new power duo James Harden and Joel Embiid, coming up against the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat, who have won ten of their last twelve games.

In the three games they have shared the court together, Harden and Embiid have been nothing short of spectacular, winning the games by an average score of twenty points, with Harden averaging 27 points, nine rebounds and 12 assists and Embiid averaging 32 points and 10 rebounds in their opening games together.

The Heat are a different test compared to their last opponents, despite some injury troubles in their last few games, missing key players, shown in their game against the Brooklyn Nets, with Jimmy Butler, PJ Tucker and Kyle Lowry all absent, but still coming out 113-107 victors against a team with the returning Kevin Durant.

Their injury troubles seem to be short term, meaning they could have a full-strength squad back for this important top of the east matchup, which could give either team major confidence for their future play-off hopes.

Golden State Warriors @ Los Angeles Lakers

Two of the best players in LeBron James and Stephen Curry will be facing off against each other, with neither player’s team in the best of form, as the Lakers have lost seven of their last eight games, including the last four, and the Warriors have been defeated in seven of their last nine, including their most recent three games.

The Warriors’ massive drop-off in form can be linked to injuries of their star players, with Draymond Green, their defensive anchor missing since the 9th of January, while Klay Thompson has been missing for two of their last three games, which they have in turn seen three losses.

The Lakers have been struggling all season, and now without their all-star centre Anthony Davis, it looks like their season is unravelling, with their old roster looking to really struggle with the demands of the season.

Every game is a must-win for the Lakers now only two games from dropping out of the spots for the play-in tournament, in a season where they started with title aspirations, and a game against Warriors, that despite recent form, are still the second seed in the Western Conference and could potentially give the Lakers players some confidence going into the rest of the season.

Sacramento Kings @ Dallas Mavericks

Two teams who made big changes at the trade deadline, with the Kings acquiring two-time all-star Domantas Sabonis for their young prospect Tyreese Haliburton, and the Mavericks trading away their injury-prone, one-time all-star Kristaps Porzingis for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans.

Mavs star Luka Doncic has been on a tear since the trade, which saw him winning Western Conference player of the month for February, averaging 34 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists a game last month, with the Mavs looking to move up into the fourth seed.

Since trading for Sabonis, the Kings haven’t seen any drastic improvements, only winning four of the nine games since the trade, but they are only 3.5 games back from a play-in spot, and with the teams above them not in the best of form, if they are able to gel their two-star players, Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox, they could start a run for the final play-in spot.

However, since the trade, they have a defensive rating of 115.7, which would rank for the second-worst in the NBA, a place which they already hold, and with Doncic being one of the most skilled players in the league, the Kings will be a great team for him to take advantage of.

Brooklyn Nets @ Boston Celtics

Despite the Celtics being the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, and the Nets being the eighth seed, the two teams couldn’t be in much different form, with the Celtics winning 15 of their last 18 games, whilst the Nets have lost 16 of their last 19 games.

A positive for the Nets is that their best player, Kevin Durant has returned after picking up an injury back in mid-January, and despite losing on his first game back, it looked as if he hasn't missed a day, scoring 31 points against the first seeded Miami Heat.

The Celtics’ upturn in form has been all down to their incredible defence, which has been the best in the NBA since the turn of the year, with a defensive rating of 104.4, a whole three points better than the next best team, the Dallas Mavericks.

Both teams will be missing key players for this game, the Celtics saw Jaylen Brown mildly sprain his ankle on Tuesday against the Atlanta Hawks, and will likely be missing for this game, whilst the Nets will be without Ben Simmons, who has experienced back pains in his ramp-up to play again, but the Nets will have former Celtics player, Kyrie Irving, who is available for the game with the game not being played in New York.

New Orleans Pelicans @ Denver Nuggets

Two Western Conference teams chasing different aspirations are facing off against each other, with the Pelicans looking to secure a play-off spot, with their new acquisition CJ McCollum looking at home in New Orleans, while the Nuggets, led by reigning MVP Nikola Jokic are looking to remain the sixth seed to avoid a spot in the play-in tournament.

Despite a horrific start to the season, which saw them lose 12 of their first 13 games, the Pelicans look to have a play-in spot secured, and since the trade for perennial all-star contender CJ McCollum, they are starting to hit their stride, winning their last three games, including their last two games by a combined 58 points.

Despite being without his two best teammates in Michael Porter jr and Jamal Murray, Jokic has clawed his team into a great position to avoid the play-in spot in the play-offs, which is shown by the numbers when he is on the court compared to off the court.

When Jokic is on the court, his team has an offensive rating of 117.4, which would be first in the NBA, and when he is off the court, the Nuggets have an offensive rating of 106.8, which would be the fourth-worst in the league, showing how much he is carrying his team this season.

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