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Weekend Mix: Football x Basketball
This weekend, the NBA Regular Season will end as the standings takes it final shape, revealing the play-in and play-off brackets. With a lot still to play for, we look at some of the key games as well as a few football games. Before that, you can head to our Cross Sport Specials page to check out some of the special offers we have.
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Portland Trail Blazers (33-47) vs Golden State Warriors (42-38)
Portland’s season, which initially showed promise with a 5-0 record, is set to end on a sour note on Sunday during their last home game against the Warriors. At the beginning of the season, Portland looked like a strong contender for a Playoff spot, and some believed they could even make it to the Conference Finals with the addition of complementary pieces to veteran Guard, Dame Lillard. Lillard had a couple of impressive games, scoring 40 points twice and 30 points once, showing he was back in top form. However, the team’s progress was halted by a lengthy injury to the reigning 3-point champion, and their perfect start was derailed, leading to a disappointing 33-47 record, with Lillard missing the last nine games after being shutdown by the team. With nothing left to play for, it is expected that the Warriors will cruise in this game.
The Golden State Warriors have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions this season, starting with an incident where Draymond Green punched Jordan Poole, then seeing Klay Thompson return to his top form of 2016, followed by an injury to Steph Curry, and a prolonged absence of Andrew Wiggins for personal reasons. However, their road performance has been the most concerning, as they have only won 9 games away from home, making it the fourth worst record in the league, behind the Detroit Pistons, San Antonio Spurs, and Houston Rockets. This is their worst performance on the road since the 2019/20 season when they had the worst record in the league. With Lakers & Pelicans hot on their trail for the 6th seed and with Portland viewing this as a dead rubber (and probably fielding a weakened team), the Warriors will field a strong side and should pick up the win.
- Golden State Warriors to win
Los Angeles Lakers (41-39) vs Utah Jazz (36-44)
Since the Jazz have been eliminated from the playoffs after losing 114-98 to the Thunder, the Lakers are expected to have an easy win in this game. Although the Lakers have secured a play-in spot, their chances of making it to the top 6 have been severely affected by their recent loss to the Clippers, which marked their 11th consecutive loss to them. However, they still have a lot at stake. With Pelicans and Timberwolves closely behind them, they would be eager to finish 7th – the highest position for a play-in team – and secure home court advantage. Led by Anthony Davis and LeBron James, the Lakers have been performing well recently, winning 7 out of their last 10 games. Anthony Davis, who suffered from injuries in February, has been dominant in the past 5 weeks, with 7 different 30-point games and 1 40-point game in that period. LeBron James has also been unstoppable, except in cases where they play overtime and his age catches up to him. Unless something unexpected happens, the Lakers are likely to win.
- Lakers to win
Chicago Bulls (38-42) vs Detroit Pistons (16-64)
This could be one of the hardest games to predict this weekend as these two teams have no business going for the win. The Bulls are locked to the 10th seed – the last spot for a play-in team. The Bulls are currently in the 10th seed, which is the last spot for a play-in team, so it’s more beneficial for them to rest their players, especially with a trip to face the Raptors for the first of two possible play-in games next week. Chicago is now solely focused on the play-in tournament, which is evident from DeMar DeRozan and Zach Lavine’s recent performances. DeRozan, who has been the star player for the Bulls, scored 31 points against the Grizzlies, 21 points against the Hawks, and only 8 points against the Bucks on Thursday. Similarly, Lavine’s performance has also followed this trend, going from 36 points to 26, and then 13 against the Bucks in these games.
Conversely, the Pistons have been successful in their efforts to lose games to secure a higher draft pick, specifically French Power Forward/Center, Victor Wembanyama. Their league-worst record of 16-64 is a testament to their tanking strategy, as they have lost their last 11 consecutive games to increase their chances of securing the top pick. Similar to the Bulls, they also have little motivation to win this game. However, it is possible that the Bulls may want to finish the regular season on a high note with a home victory, which could push them to play with a bit more intensity. We expect the game to be very close.
- Chicago Bulls to win.
Brooklyn Nets (44-36) vs Philadelphia 76ers (52-28)
Losing this game would mark an end to a very productive season for the 76ers and they’re expected to. Point Guard, James Harden (10.7) is the season leader in Assists Per Game while Joel Embiid, who leads the league in scoring (33.1 PPG), all but secured the MVP award with his 50-pts in the win over Boston Celtics earlier in the week. The Nets are currently ranked sixth in the league, and if the standings remain the same, these two teams will meet in the playoffs. However, if the Nets falter, they could be surpassed by the Miami Heat. The 76ers know that despite the Heat’s poor season by their standards; they have one of the league’s finest coaches in Erik Spoelstra, as well as All-NBA caliber players Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo on their roster. The Sixers were eliminated in the conference semi-finals by the Heat last season, and this still haunts them.With nothing else to play for in the regular season, we expect the Sixers to not only field a weakened team but also play with less intensity.
- Brooklyn Nets to win
Boston Celtics (55-25) vs Atlanta Hawks (41-39)
With the Celtics locked into the 2nd seed and the Hawks locked in the 8th, this is yet another dead rubber game for both teams as they turn their attention to next week. The Hawks will face either the Nets or Miami next week in the first play-in game and, so, are expected to rest their players on this trip. The Celtics, who would face the winner of this game, are also expected to sit out their big names in this game, however, with one of the deepest rosters in the league, a competent side is still expected to be fielded. Missing all five starters on the 15th of February, the Celtics – made up entirely of bench players – famously took Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks to overtime where they would eventually fall 131-125, proving their quality. The Celtics’ bench has been performing well this season, boasting a Net Rating of 2.1 – the fourth-best in the league. While both teams are expected to play their bench players, the Celtics are favored to win because of the quality of their bench players.
- Boston Celtics to win
Dallas Mavericks (38-42) vs San Antonio Spurs (21-59)
The Dallas Mavericks’ front office has been left wondering what they were thinking when they traded for Kyrie Irving just before the trade deadline. Kyrie is an exceptional talent who comes with a lot of baggage, you would mistake him for a porter. While he has caused no issues since arriving in Dallas, the team’s performance has declined significantly. Prior to his arrival, the Mavericks were in 4th place in the Western Conference and had a 95% chance of making the playoffs. However, since Irving joined the team, their record has been 8-16, dropping them to 11th place in the standings and decreasing their playoff chances to less than 6%. This is a significant drop for a team that was a conference finalist last year. On Sunday, they will win; they’ve beaten Spurs on all 3 previous meetings this season. But, winning might not be enough to get them a spot in the play-in as they have to rely on 10th seed Thunder to lose at home to the Grizzlies.
- Dallas Mavericks to win
Real Madrid vs Villarreal
After securing their biggest win on Barcelona’s home ground in 60 years with a 4-0 victory against their fierce rivals, Real Madrid will enter this game with a great deal of confidence. Their recent triumph in El Clásico saw the reigning Ballon d’Or winner, Karim Benzema, score a hat-trick, becoming the first Real Madrid player to achieve this feat since Ivan Zamorano in January 1995 as they secured a place in the Copa del Rey final. However, now they must shift their focus to Villarreal, a team that they have only defeated three times in their previous 11 encounters.
Currently 12 points behind league leaders Barcelona, Madrid know well that their chances of retaining the league are slim and so, they’re likely to turn their attentions to a more significant midweek fixture where they host Chelsea in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League.
Despite being a thorn in Los Blancos’ side in their recent matchups, Villarreal’s displays at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium have been disappointing. In fact, they have only won one of their previous 22 league games at this venue. On the other hand, Real Madrid’s home record is quite impressive, with their 4-0 defeat to Barcelona last month being their only league loss at home in their last 42 games.
Freiburg vs Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich, who are currently at the top of the Bundesliga, will have an opportunity to avenge their recent loss to Freiburg when they visit them this weekend. InTuesday’s DFB Pokal Cup quarter-final, Bayern were left shocked as Freiburg mounted a late comeback to knock them out of the competition. Bayern had taken the lead through Upamecano, but Hofler equalized just 8 minutes later. Lucas Holer then sealed the deal for Freiburg with a penalty in the 95th minute, leaving Bayern and their coach Tuchel heartbroken.
Freiburg have been performing remarkably well this season, as evidenced by their 47 points from 26 games, which is their best record since the introduction of 3 points for a win. They have also set an ongoing club record with a 12-game unbeaten run at home, winning 8 and drawing 4. Additionally, their 7-game unbeaten streak is currently the joint longest in the league, and they still have a chance of qualifying for the Champions League. However, they will approach their upcoming match against Bayern Munich with caution for several reasons. While they have scored against Bayern in their last 4 home games, they have only won once in their last 39 league meetings with the German giants. Furthermore, Bayern Munich are currently the best away team in the league, having accumulated 24 points from 13 games.
Tottenham Hotspur vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Spurs welcome the overachieving Brighton to London with a few players still out. Lucas Moura begins a three-match ban, while Rodrigo Bentancur, Yves Bissouma, Ben Davies, Emerson Royal, Ryan Sessegnon and club record signing, Richalison are all still out. Following the dismissal of Antonio Conte during the international break, Spurs were hoping for a boost under interim-manager Cristian Stellini in their recent match against Everton. However, they suffered a last-minute setback, failing to take advantage of the Toffees’ red card and conceding a 90th-minute equalizer to Michael Keane. Meanwhile, Brighton secured a 2-0 victory over Bournemouth, with goals from wonderkid, Evan Ferguson and Julio Enciso. The last time Brighton visited Spurs, they won 1-0, and they know that a repeat of this result might propel them above Spurs in a few weeks, as they continue to pursue their European aspirations.
It’s worth noting that Spurs have not drawn any of their last 24 home games in the Premier League, winning 17 and losing 7. They are currently on a winning streak of 4 games. On the other hand, Brighton have a tendency to score in Saturday 3:00PM matches, having netted a total of 28 goals in their last 14 games during that time slot. Spurs, meanwhile, have struggled to defend in those matches, having conceded 16 goals in 8 games.
Lazio vs Juventus
Juventus will aim for a 4th straight league win and an 8th in 9 games when they travel to face 2nd place Lazio at the Olimpico. The Old Lady would have been 2nd had they not been deducted 15 points earlier this year and it’ll be interesting to see if that will be an extra source of motivation for them.
Lazio’s disappointing Europa Conference League elimination at the hands of AZ Alkmaar in March could have a silver lining. With the absence of the distraction from European football for the rest of the season, they can concentrate on building upon their decent six-game unbeaten run in Serie A (W5, D1). With the best defensive record in Italy, Lazio has kept the most clean sheets (17) and conceded the fewest goals (19) among all Serie A teams this season. Therefore, allowing three goals in Turin would have been painful for Maurizio Sarri’s men, who will undoubtedly seek revenge this weekend.
We expect both teams to lean heavily on their defenses which has proven to be a successful game plan all season so we could have a cagey game on our hands.
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