NBA teams are being devastated by COVID right now and the league and the players union are discussing the idea of testing players — vaccinated or not –more on game days and practice days. The NBA has increased its testing amongst players since Thanksgiving, and league executives have said that they expect to see a spike in cases through Christmas and New Year’s as players gather with larger groups of people for the holidays. Here’s a look at two intriguing matchups this weekend – hoping they are played. Check back for NBA odds.
Best bets of the weekend in the NBA regular season
Warriors at Celtics
Friday tipoff at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. This will be Golden State’s first game since Steph Curry set the all-time NBA three-point record on Tuesday in a win at the Knicks. The record-breaking shot came with 7 minutes, 33 seconds left in the first quarter as Curry drained a 28-footer from the right wing off a pass from Andrew Wiggins. The Warriors quickly fouled and called a time out so that Curry could enjoy the moment. Curry, who now has 2,977, set the record in 511 fewer games than Allen needed.
Curry wound up with five 3-pointers on the night, extending his career total to 2,977, en route to 22 points as the Warriors came away with a 105-96 victory. Curry personally gifted engraved Rolexes to his longest-tenured teammates: Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, and he saved one more for Klay Thompson, who is back in the San Francisco Bay Area rehabbing his Achilles and ACL injuries.
This season, Curry is attempting up 13.4 triples per game, which would be an NBA record for volume if sustained. He has never shot worse than 40 percent from 3 in his career. He’s on pace to make well over 400 3s this season if he stays healthy, which will put him somewhere north of 3,200 makes for his career. Extrapolate that over the next three seasons, and he could easily be over the 4,000 mark before his current contract even expires.
The Warriors, with the best record in the NBA (23-5, .821), play their fourth of five-straight games on the road, tied for their longest road trip of the season, on Friday. The Warriors are the only team in the NBA this season that has not allowed an opponent to shoot 50 percent-or-better from the field. Dating back to last season, Golden State has a streak of 30 consecutive games without allowing an opponent to shoot 50 percent from the field, tied for the sixth-longest such streak in franchise history.
Boston has been off since a 117-103 win over Milwaukee on Monday. Jaylen Brown returned to the Celtics‘ starting lineup Monday and scored 19 points to go with five assists, four rebounds, two steals and a block across 30 minutes. Brown showed no ill effects of the hamstring injury that cost him five games.
Celtics guard Josh Richardson is expected to play Friday after clearing the league’s health and safety protocols. Due to his short quarantine period, it is believed that Richardson never tested positive for the virus, but that he had to enter the protocols due to a close contact. He was a “full go” in practice on Wednesday.
Rockets at Pistons
Why is this matchup between two of the NBA’s worst teams a must-bet game? Because it’s at noon Saturday, the only NBA matinee on the schedule that day opposite college football bowl games and college basketball.
Unfortunately, it will not feature a matchup of the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, Detroit’s Cade Cunningham, and the No. 2 overall pick, Houston’s Jalen Green. Cunningham is playing but Green is out injured. Green hasn’t played in three weeks since straining his left hamstring on Nov. 24. He is getting fairly close but it likely won’t be by Saturday. Green has averaged 14.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in 30.8 minutes per game this season.
Houston has used nine starting lineups this season, including one lineup 12 times after no lineup was used more than six times in 2020-21. Rockets center Christian Wood suited up for Detroit in 2019-20, averaging 13.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.9 blocks in 21.4 minutes over 62 games (12 starts).
These teams met on Nov. 10 in Houston and the Pistons won 112-104. Detroit held the lead from the 3:43 mark of the third quarter until the end of the contest, and while a 7-1 run from the Rockets would cut the lead to one with two-and-a-half remaining, the Pistons would hold the Rockets scoreless in the final two minutes. Jerami Grant led Detroit with 35 points, but he’s currently out injured. Cunningham had 20 points. Green had 23 in a losing effort.
Since 2014-15, Detroit holds a 9-5 record against Houston and has never been swept during that stretch. Detroit has won five of the last seven games played in Houston. Prior to 2014-15, Houston had won seven straight games.
- Celtics and Rockets