NBA Weekend Preview: Lakers and Celtics Renew Historic Rivalry

By Ziv Chen
 |  3 mins
8E3DFB6F-93D4-478C-99D9-112C2BB6C04E  Fact Checked by Mark Fordham
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NBA Weekend Preview: Lakers and Celtics Renew Historic Rivalry

While every weekend in the NBA is filled with mouth-watering matchups, this weekend looks set to be a thriller for basketball fans and those of you trying to find value on NBA betting sites. Saturday boasts two marquee matchups as the Denver Nuggets travel to face off against a red-hot Philadelphia 76ers side in a nationally televised afternoon game before the latest installment in the rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics tips off in the evening.

On Sunday, the New Orleans Pelicans face off against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Pelicans are still missing key man Zion Williamson but need to snap a morale-sapping six-game losing streak after regaining Brandon Ingram from two months out. Check out our NBA picks for the weekend’s action below.

Denver Nuggets @ Philadelphia 76ers

Two championship hopefuls meet at the Wells Fargo Center for a Saturday afternoon matchup as the Denver Nuggets travel to face the Philadelphia 76ers.

The game is a battle between two of the best big men in the league, with Joel Embiid facing off against Nikola Jokic. Jokic is the current favorite with most USA sports betting sites to take home the MVP this year, with odds of -150, while Embiid is third favorite, valued at +800.

Jokic deserves his status as MVP-elect, as the Nuggets are just so much better with him on the court than without him - 20.8 points per 100 possessions better, to be exact. However, Denver has been learning to win without him, which is a good sign for Michael Malone and the coaching staff.

But the team is undeniably better with Jokic on the court, and he’s been averaging nearly a triple-double every game he plays; his 9.9 rebounds a game leave him just shy of that mark. Embiid, too, is crucial for Philadelphia and leads the league in scoring with 33.4 points a night – making him a must-pick in NBA prop bets. The 76ers come into the game on the back of six straight wins, and they won’t be afraid of facing up against the Nuggets. The 76ers also have the home-court advantage. With two red-hot offenses, this could be the matchup of the weekend. 

Los Angeles Lakers @ Boston Celtics

The Los Angeles Lakers travel to TD Garden to face the Boston Celtics in the 372nd meeting of two of the biggest rivals in the NBA.

While the two franchises have met a record 12 times in the NBA Finals, Los Angeles sits in 13th place in the Western Conference, and their quest for championship glory in 2023 looks already over. On the other hand, Boston is a +400 favorite with most NBA betting apps to win the NBA Finals this season, and they have the best record in the NBA at this point.

However, Los Angeles has solved a few of the offensive problems from earlier this season by dipping into the trade market for former Washington Wizard Rui Hachimura. Adding more depth and variety to its offense will be critical to sneak into the play-in tournament. Beating their rival on the road would be a great momentum-builder ahead of that daunting task.

Boston will be confident heading into the game, despite losing their last three games. The team still sits in first place in the Western Conference and boasts a 5-2 record against Pacific Division opponents. Still, it did take overtime for the Celtics to beat the Lakers in the first meeting in December.

Another key element to this mouth-watering matchup will be LeBron James’ pursuit of the NBA scoring record. Needing 158 points to break the record, he’s recently posted some unbelievable numbers. He has scored 20, 46, 37, 23, 32, 48 and 35 points in his last seven games, and if the Lakers are going to have a chance against the Celtics, he will need to keep that hot streak alive. Doing so will take him a step closer to the record.

New Orleans Pelicans @ Milwaukee Bucks

Having fallen eight games back from the leaders in the Western Conference, New Orleans travels to Milwaukee on Sunday Night, hoping to snap its six-game losing run. The Pelicans have collapsed without their star man, Zion Williamson, and he’ll be absent again for the trip to the Fiserv Forum. The team’s medical department confirmed he’d face another week on the sidelines earlier this week.

The Bucks recently had their own injury issues, losing Giannis Antetokounmpo for an extended spell. He returned this week to help his team to morale-boosting wins against the Detroit Pistons and the best in the West, Denver Nuggets. Milwaukee is looking to win its third NBA championship this season and is valued at +750 with US betting apps to do it.

A season that began with so much promise for the Pelicans has descended into mediocrity recently. Losses against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Orlando Magic, Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers showed that teams across the league could compete with the Pelicans when they’re missing their leading light. 

With question marks surrounding the Pelicans’ ability to win games without Zion, there would be no better way to put those questions behind them than a statement win against a championship-caliber team. Snapping the losing streak, too, would be a big confidence boost for this team. With Brandon Ingram back in the lineup, New Orleans has no better time to prove it’s not a one-person team. 

Ziv has served for two decades in senior positions with online gambling operators and software companies. In recent years he decided to combine his passions for writing, gambling, and sports, and became a fulltime casino and sports betting writer. Ziv’s biggest loves are the NFL (Pittsburgh Steelers), college football (Maryland Terrapins), casino games and online slots.

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