Golden State Warriors @ San Antonio Spurs
Statistically the two strongest sides in this season’s NBA, Golden State and San Antonio will resume their rivalry at the AT&T Center on Wednesday evening. The Spurs have come out on top in both of their previous meetings this term and cannot afford to take their foot off the gas just yet as they bid to hold off the Houston Rockets and clinch the Southwest Division title. San Antonio travel to California on the back of five straight victories and underlined their defensive strengths once again in a 103-74 victory over the high-flying Cleveland Cavaliers.
If there is one team that can unsettle San Antonio’s resilience, it is Golden State. Runners-up in 2016, the Warriors have stacked up more impressive numbers this season and barely seem to have been affected recently by the absence of injured small forward Kevin Durant. They are a couple of games clear of San Antonio in the overall Western Conference standings, but are probably in a position where they can rest more of their star players than the Spurs, particularly straight after a match with Houston on Tuesday. The smart money could therefore be on San Antonio to make it six wins in a row and lay down another marker ahead of a possible showdown in the Conference Finals.
- Top Tip: San Antonio Spurs to win
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Chicago Bulls
Chicago’s win percentage for the season continues to hover just under 50% ahead of their clash with Cleveland on Thursday, and they need a strong fortnight to clinch their spot in the postseason. Fortunately for the Bulls, there is a shortage of really strong teams in the Eastern Conference right now and their run-in doesn’t look too bad. The Cavs might be their toughest remaining challenge, and Cleveland are not playing anywhere near as well as they were earlier in the season.
Cleveland’s place in the playoffs is already assured, of course, as they seek to defend their NBA crown from 2016, while the slump in form can be partly explained by the amount of injuries there have been at the Quicken Loans Arena. The big problem has been Cleveland’s defence, and even though the key players are starting to return to the court, the visit to Chicago represents another potential banana skin.
- Top Tip: Chicago Bulls to win
Denver Nuggets @ Charlotte Hornets
A clash between two inconsistent teams lies in store at the Spectrum Center on Friday, as Charlotte and Denver look to boost their chances of edging into the playoffs. Charlotte’s final few games of the regular season appear quite tricky, but the way that point guard Kemba Walker has been performing of late will give the Hornets hope that a difficult campaign could still end on a high note.
Denver’s season is also balancing on a knife-edge and their results over the next couple of weeks will determine whether they reach the postseason. Just like with Charlotte, though, there are a number of positive signs for Nuggets fans to embrace. They have steadily improved since the start of 2016 and their attacking play has really caught the eye, with Serbian center Nikola ‘The Joker’ Jokic at the heart of their best work. They have repeatedly posted over 100 points in recent weeks, without looking totally convincing at the back, so another high-scoring encounter looks a decent punt.
- Top Tip: Total Points Over 215