Week 19 will provide a welcome rest for most NBA players as they relax during the All-Star break. Teams won’t have to play for almost a week before resuming their schedules on Thursday, February 22. The NBA All-Star Weekend should be as entertaining as ever as stars such as LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant face off in the All-Star game on Sunday night. Not only that, but guys like Donavan Mitchell and Klay Thompson will compete in the Dunk and Three-Point contests. We’ll get a break from games as well, but here are some tips for the games at the end of Week 19.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Washington Wizards
- Friday 23rd February 2018, 1am (UK time)
The Cavaliers had by far the most exciting trade deadline as they unloaded Dwayne Wade, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, and others in return for Rodney Hood, George Hill, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. Not only did they get younger, but they picked up players who will definitely defer to LeBron instead of trying to take matters into their own hands. This new squad seems to be meshing very well as they’ve won three straight, scoring 120 or more in all three. Their 34-20 record is good enough for third in the East, but they’ll have a chance to move up with the recent struggles of the Celtics.
Though the Wizards lost John Wall for an extended period of time due to an injury, they’ve been surprisingly competitive in his absence. Washington has won seven of their last nine, losing only to the Celtics at home and the 76ers on the road. First-time All-Star Bradley Beal is the main reason why the Wizards are winning these games. He’s averaging 24 points, four assists, and four rebounds on the season, which is impressive considering the fact that defenses have turned their focus to him without Wall on the floor. Guys like Markieff Morris, Otto Porter Jr., and Mike Scott have provided scoring on the wings to complement Beal and provide depth. Washington’s 33-24 record puts them in fourth in the East, but they’ll have to play well in order to hold their place.
The Wizards have had success over the Cavs in recent matchups, but these Cavaliers are revitalised. Take Cleveland at home in this one.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Orlando Magic
- Saturday 24th February 2018, 10pm (UK time)
The Philadelphia 76ers are enjoying their best season in years and have a great chance to make the postseason. All-Star Joel Embiid and likely ROY Ben Simmons have made all the difference this year, averaging a combined 40 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 assists. Veteran J.J. Reddick and mainstay Robert Covington give the Sixers the outside shooting touch that they’ve lacked in previous years, and coach Brett Brown has his team organised and more competitive than ever. The Sixers are 30-25, which puts them in seventh place in the Eastern Conference. They’ll certainly make the playoffs as long as they can hold off teams such as the Pistons and the Hornets, who are on the outside looking in when it comes to the postseason picture.
The Orlando Magic are currently 18-39, owning the second-worst record in the East and one of the worst records in the entire league. They’ll enter this game against the Sixers having lost three straight. Aaron Gordon has been the team’s lone bright spot this season, putting up 18 points and eight rebounds per contest. However, the team just traded away Elfrid Payton, the point guard whom they drafted and then started for years. Jonathan Simmons has also overachieved this year, but guys like Marreese Speights and Mario Hezonja have been massive disappointments.
The Sixers have been playing well recently and they’re a tough out in Philly. Expect them to beat the Magic handily.