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With the NBA back after the All-Star break, the league is putting on an exciting nine-game schedule to kick off the second half of the NBA season!
Starting off the night is a matchup between conference juggernauts in the Denver Nuggets and the Cleveland Cavaliers. To follow is a matchup between two teams with playoff aspirations in the New Orleans Pelicans and the Toronto Raptors. And a marquee Western Conference matchup tips off when the Golden State Warriors take on the Los Angeles Lakers!
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When: 7:00 PM EST
|Denver Nuggets||+3.0 (-110)|
|Cleveland Cavaliers||-3.0 (-110)|
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Two powerful teams in their respective conferences, the Denver Nuggets and the Cleveland Cavaliers face off! The Nuggets are currently in first place in the Western Conference, owning a 41-18 overall record and a 14-14 road record. The Cleveland Cavaliers are currently ranked fourth in the Eastern Conference with a 38-23 overall record and an impressive 25-6 home record.
The Denver Nuggets are one of the league's most efficient offensive teams, averaging 117.1 points per game (6th in the NBA) on 51.2% from the field (1st in the NBA) and 39.2% from the three-point range (1st in the NBA). Over the course of their three-game win streak before the All-Star break, the Nuggets won by a 9.0 points margin while holding their opponents to 45.7% from the field and 32.1% from three. On the other hand, the Cleveland Cavaliers' defence has held opponents to 106.1 points per game (1st in the NBA) on 46.5% from the field (6th in the NBA) while forcing 15.1 turnovers per game (8th in the NBA). The Cavaliers' defence has been locked in through their recent 8-2 run, limiting teams to 101.4 points per game on 45.2% from the field and 32.2% from three.
Injuries may play a factor in this game, but given a healthy post-break roster for both sides, we're taking the Nuggets. Cleveland have a great interior defence, but Denver's ball movement and ability to convert from three-point range will be the difference-maker. The Cavaliers haven't shown the ability to limit their opponent's efficiency from three-point range.
When: 7:30 PM EST
|New Orleans Pelicans||+4.0 (-109)|
|O 226.0 (-108)|
|Toronto Raptors||-4.0 (-112)|
|U 226.0 (-113)|
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Both the New Orleans Pelicans and Toronto Raptors are looking to push themselves up their respective conference tables. The New Orleans Pelicans are currently seventh in the Western Conference with a 30-29 overall record and a 10-19 road record. They face a Toronto Raptors team that are currently 10th in the Eastern Conference with a 28-31 overall record and an 18-13 home record.
The New Orleans Pelicans are slowly returning to good health, sporting an offence that scores 114.9 points per game (11th in the NBA) while holding teams to 34.0% from three-point range (1st in the NBA) and forcing 15.1 turnovers per game (7th in the NBA). Despite going 4-6 over their last 10, the Pelicans have averaged 118.5 points on 48.2% from the field and 38.8% from three over that span. The Toronto Raptors will counter them with their own aggressive defence, which holds teams to 112.5 points per game (11th in the NBA) while forcing 16.6 turnovers per contest (2nd in the NBA). The Raptors have looked improved since acquiring big man Jakob Poeltl, scoring 119.3 points per game while out-rebounding their opponents 40.0 to 35.7.
It's always an odd time for teams as the All-Star break can takes teams well out of their established rhythm. We're taking the Toronto Raptors in this one as they've looked significantly better through their last three games with Jakob Poeltl in the paint. New Orleans have the firepower of their own, but their lack of paint depth should hurt them against Toronto's athleticism and defence.
When: 9:00 PM EST
|Golden State Warriors||+4.5 (-108)|
|O 238.0 (-110)|
|Los Angeles Lakers||-4.5 (-112)|
|U 238.0 (-110)|
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While this matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers is sure to be missing some key stars, it still has big implications for the Western Conference play-in tournament. The Golden State Warriors are currently ninth in the West with a 29-29 overall record but a dreadful 7-22 road record. The Los Angeles Lakers have fallen to 13th in the West with a 27-32 overall record, but they've been decent at home with a 14-14 record at crypto.com Arena.
The Warriors are a fast-paced scoring team, averaging 118.6 points per game (2nd in the NBA) while hitting 16.6 threes per game (1st in the NBA) on 38.6% efficiency (3rd in the NBA). Golden State have gone 5-5 over their last 10 games before the All-Star break, their defense has allowed 121.1 points on 49.9% from the field and 37.3% from deep. The Lakers will challenge them with their own offense, which averages 117.0 points per game (7th in the NBA) on 48.2% efficiency (10th in the NBA). Los Angeles will look to build off of their earlier win against the Warriors this month, where they held their opponents to just 41.7% from the field and 27.3% from three-point range.
Both teams will be missing key players, but the Warriors project to be more depleted in this matchup. The Lakers are our pick for this matchup, and their new team makeup combined with the Warriors' missing players should be enough to push them to a victory. It's a rare occurrence, but the Warriors shouldn't have enough to keep up with the Lakers offensively.
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
Email: [email protected]More info on Christian Jope
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