We are kicking off the week with the five best games of the night and our NBA picks have the winner of each of those contests for you!
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Golden State Warriors @ Philadelphia 76ers – 7:30PM ET
The Philadelphia 76ers put their four game winning streak on the line when they host the Golden State Warriors tonight. Joel Embiid’s MVP-like performances have given the Sixers an air of confidence and the Warriors should be cautious as they approach this game.
Steph Curry, who is coming off a 47 point performance where he shot 11/19 from deep, is just questionable for this one with an ankle injury. If Curry is unable to suit up then that is trouble for Golden State as they are just 1-7 without their leader this season. Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Jordan Poole will all see more opportunities in that scenario, but is it really enough.
Curry had one of the best weeks of his career with three games of 10+ threes whilst averaging 43.75 points per game. That sort of offensive performance can only be replicated by a few players in NBA history but even if he plays, things will be much more difficult against the second best defense in the league.
NBA scoring leaders as of March 28th:
1. Bradley Beal – 31.3 PPG
2. Damian Lillard – 30.0 PPG
3. Steph Curry – 29.0 PPG
NBA scoring leaders as of April 18th:
1. Bradley Beal – 31.1 PPG
2. Steph Curry – 31.0 PPG
Steph is making a run at a second career scoring title 🔥 pic.twitter.com/fQEg8tWB5T
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 18, 2021
In their 106-103 win over the Clippers on Friday night, Embiid’s 36 point and 14 rebound night helped lift the Sixers over the line, despite missing both Tobias Harris and Seth Curry for the clash. The defense was once again the headline for Philly, forcing the Clippers into a massive 19 turnovers and turning them into 21 points.
Over their four game winning streak, including games against Dallas, Brooklyn and the Clippers, Philadelphia have given up an average of just 102 points per night and will be looking to put the clamps on again in this one. Steph Curry’s availability is obviously a massive factor in this one but even if he plays, the Sixers should be too good.
Phoenix Suns @ Milwaukee Bucks – 8PM ET
Our second game of the evening sees two championship contenders who are looking to bounce back from embarrassing losses in their last game. The Phoenix Suns ended their home stand with a shock 26 point loss to the Spurs while the Milwaukee Bucks kicked off a home stand of their own with a 13 point loss to Memphis, both on Saturday night.
Despite 28 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists from Giannis plus Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton combining for 33 points, 17 rebounds and four steals, the Bucks couldn’t get the job done defensively. Milwaukee gave up a massive 128 points to a Memphis side that ranks just 15th for offensive rating, allowing them to shoot a massive 54.8% from the field.
Where Milwaukee lost it due to poor defense, Phoenix lost to the Spurs thanks to some terrible offense. The Suns managed just 85 points and shot 6/27 from deep for the game, never really looking interested.
The silver lining of the loss was that they got some extra rest into their starters, with just one of the five reaching double figures in scoring. The Suns were led in scoring by Jevon Carter’s 17 points off the bench but this is one that they will be putting out of their memory sooner rather than later.
The Bucks are 18-9 at home while Phoenix are 17-7 on the road, so there is no real advantage either way there. However, the Suns average three less points per game when travelling and after their offensive performance last time out, they might not be able to keep up with the highest scoring team in the league.
San Antonio Spurs @ Indiana Pacers – 8PM ET
The San Antonio Spurs and Indiana Pacers will face off for the second and last time this season, following on from their overtime epic earlier in the month. Indiana escaped as 139-133 winners on that day meaning the Spurs, coming off one of their biggest and best wins of the season, will be out for revenge.
Saturday night saw the Spurs roll into Phoenix, without DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and Patty Mills, and pull off the 111-85 win. Without their leader, San Antonio used an even approach to the offensive output with six players scoring between 12-19 points. Rudy Gay was the pick of the bunch 19 points, five rebounds and two blocks but it was clearly the defense that got them the win, keeping the Suns to just 6/27 shooting from deep for the game.
Our defense was next level!! 🙅♂️💪
We held the Suns to under 100 pts for only their 3rd time this season!
14 Forced TO | 10 STL | 9 BLK pic.twitter.com/enx6CKzGvO
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) April 18, 2021
Indiana on the other hand have dropped two straight and will be hoping that getting back to their home court will help get them back on track. The Pacers will be on the quick back up in this one, losing 117-129 in Atlanta last night. Malcolm Brogdon was the clear best player for Indiana with 29 points and eight assists but defense was clearly an issue, allowing four different Atlanta players to score 20+.
A weird stat for the season with both teams, Indiana is much worse at home, 9-16 compared to 17-14 on the road, while San Antonio are far superior on the road, 15-10 compared to 12-18 at home. DeRozan is already confirmed to be back in the lineup for this clash and his return should help the Spurs get their second straight win.
Memphis Grizzlies @ Denver Nuggets – 9PM ET
The Memphis Grizzlies have come out and won both of the first two games of their seven game road trip by double digits and will be looking to add a third in Denver tonight. While their play has been exceptional, Denver’s has been just as good, if not better.
After losing Jamal Murray to a torn ACL, the Nuggets have come out and won back to back games by an average of 23 points. Friday night saw Nikola Jokic come out and drop 29 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists and two steals, leading Denver to a 128-99 win in Houston.
While that win is certainly impressive, it was over the lowly Rockets while Memphis came out and beat the Bucks, in Milwaukee. Offense was the theme of the night with six different players in double figures for the Grizzlies, who won 128-115. Grayson Allen was the hot hand for the night, scoring a team high 26 points on 7/10 shooting from deep.
The loss of Murray is obviously massive for Denver in the long run, but they have proven that it isn’t impacting their ability to win now and they will be hoping that doesn’t change against Memphis here tonight. However, Jonas Valanciunas provides a good matchup for Jokic and the Grizzlies team first attitude and playing style allow anyone to pop up in their moment and could surprise the Nuggets here.
Utah Jazz @ Los Angeles Lakers – 10PM ET
We round off the night with a rematch of Saturday afternoon’s overtime thriller that saw the Los Angeles Lakers come out on top. While many could turn to the Utah Jazz’s road struggles as an excuse for this disappointing outcome against a depleted LA side, Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert sat out the game due to rest, joining the injured Donovan Mitchell on the sidelines for this one.
That allowed Jordan Clarkson to step into the starting lineup for the first time all season and get his shots up, scoring an equal-game high 27 points but also shooting 27 shots to get there. Both Joe Ingles and Ersan Ilyasova scored 20 points and made six threes, with Ingles adding 14 assists and Ilyasova adding four steals and two blocks in his first start for the club.
Lakers hold off the Jazz in OT 🔥
Drummond: 27 PTS, 8 REB, 10-15 FG
Schroder: 25 PTS, 8 AST, 6 REB
KCP: 25 PTS, 5 REB pic.twitter.com/X2cEw75nkU
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) April 17, 2021
Ultimately, the Jazz couldn’t keep up in overtime, getting outscored 5-17 in the extra five minutes with the Lakers running over the top. Andre Drummond enjoyed his best game with the team, putting up 27 points and eight rebounds while Dennis Schroder and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope both had 25 points for the home side.
Without Gobert controlling the paint, LA won the rebound count by 15 and were able to collect five more offensive rebounds. The Lakers also had one less turnovers, giving themselves every opportunity to get points on the board and come out on top.
Both Gobert and Conley are listed as probably for this clash and we expect them to come out and come out hard for the Jazz. Utah needs to keep winning to stay afloat on top of the West and with the reinforcements back in the lineup, they should prove too much for the Lakers, who are still without James and Davis.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.
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