Maybe Kawhi Leonard won’t be one and done in Toronto after all. Recent reports have emerged that Leonard might re-sign with the Raptors as a free agent this offseason. All signs entering this year had Leonard playing the one year and then signing with his hometown Lakers or Clippers, but the Raptors have given Leonard just about everything he has asked for. Don’t be surprised to see Leonard resting games down the stretch with Toronto locked into its playoff seeding. Here’s a look at two intriguing early-week matchups. Check back for NBA odds.
Top NBA Betting Picks of the Week – April 1st Edition
Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors
- When: Tuesday, 10:30 PM ET (TNT)
Should the Warriors win this game, you can all but write them down as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs because they would win the season series 3-1 over the Nuggets. Even if Denver pulls the upset here, the Warriors have the much easier schedule remaining than Denver does.
The teams last met on March 8 in Oakland and the Dubs cruised 122-105. Klay Thompson had 39 points and made nine three-pointers. Kevin Durant added 26 points and six assists, and Stephen Curry scored 17 points. DeMarcus Cousins had a strong outing on both ends with 13 points, six rebounds, six assists, six blocked shots, and three steals. The Nuggets outrebounded the Warriors 45-44 but shot just 33 for 87.
Golden State already has clinched the Pacific Division title again. It’s their fifth straight Pacific title. Steve Kerr is the third coach in NBA history to win 50 or more games in his first five seasons at the helm, joining Pat Riley and Phil Jackson.
Curry is ranked 3rd in the NBA in scoring and Durant 8th. The last time two teammates finished the regular season ranked in the Top 5 in scoring was in 2011-12 when Durant (1st) and Russell Westbrook (5th) did it while with the Thunder. Since 1968-69, it has happened 7 times.
The Warriors have won 15 games this season after trailing by 10 or more points. The latest comeback came on March 27 at Memphis as the Warriors overcame a 10-point Grizzlies lead (41-31 with 11:07 left in the second quarter) for a 118-103 win.Denver has a chance to top the record books for the best record in franchise history. The team record is 57 wins in 2012-13. The century mark has been a great indicator for success, Denver’s opponent has scored less than 100 points 24 times this season, improving to 23-1 in those games. The Nuggets are tied for second (Indiana, Utah) in the NBA in total games holding their opponents under 100 points (24).
Boston Celtics at Miami Heat
- When: Wednesday, 7:30 PM ET (NBATV)
Important for both teams – the Celtics are trying to finish fourth in the East and get the home-court advantage on the Indiana Pacers in a first-round series. Those teams are finishing 4-5 in some order. Miami is just trying to get in the postseason but could be as high as sixth. This will be the final time that future Hall of Famer Dwyane Wade faces Boston. It’s the second of a home-and-home as the teams were to meet in Boston on Monday.
Entering that one, they had split the first two meetings, each winning at home. The Heat prevailed 115-99 on Jan. 10 in South Florida. Wade had 19 points. Miami led by as many as 26 shortly after halftime, then saw the Celtics peel off 16 unanswered points before Wade helped quickly restore order. Josh Richardson scored 18 points for Miami, which set season highs with 18 3-pointers and 33 assists. Derrick Jones Jr. scored 14, and Justise Winslow scored 13 points and added a career-high 11 assists for the Heat.
Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 22 on 10-for-19 shooting for the Celtics, who were playing the second of a back-to-back. Miami held Boston without a single first-half free throw attempt in the game, marking the fifth time in franchise history the Heat held an opponent without an attempt in the first half and for the first time since March 15, 2013, against the Bucks.
This marks as just the second time the two teams will face each other in consecutive games during the regular season with the previous instance happening during the 1995-96 campaign when Boston won both contests of the set, first in a double OT game, 121-120, on 12/4/95 and then, 105-101, on 12/6/95.
The Heat finished March with an 11-4 (.733) record as Coach Erik Spoelstra has now recorded a 115-61 (.653) career record in March. That marks as the second-highest winning percentage during the month of March since Spoelstra became head coach (min 100 games). Additionally, the 11 wins in March are the most for any month since also recording 11 wins in December of 2013.
Expert NBA Betting Picks
Bet Heat and Warriors.