The NBA was on fire this weekend. The highlight of a busy couple of days on sports betting sites was Sunday's playoff-caliber rematch of the 2022 NBA Finals. Golden State showed why it is still the team to beat in professional basketball with a win against Boston.
Elsewhere, Philadelphia nearly blew a 16-point lead but finally got the job done in overtime against the Lakers. Los Angeles looked to improve to .500 but can’t seem to get the balance right, and time is running out for them to put it all together to compete in the West. Finally, Zion Williamson showed why he might be MVP material. The Pelicans are now the best in the West and on a seven-game winning streak. Read our best bits from the weekend below.
It looked like it would be an easy win for the Philadelphia 76ers against an ever-inconsistent Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. Suddenly, it didn’t look easy anymore. The Sixers had a 16-point lead with four minutes to go in the matchup on Friday, but a ton of turnovers, mistakes and general haphazard play allowed the Lakers to take the game to overtime.
“I thought we would start this about 15 minutes ago,” said 76ers Head Coach Doc Rivers when he started his post-game press conference. Philadelphia sealed a 133-122 win in overtime but found themselves wondering how the game had been able to go to OT after it had spent most of the matchup dominating Los Angeles.
This game was a perfect illustration of the 2022-23 Los Angeles Lakers, too: incredible in patches but not enough consistency to challenge good basketball teams regularly. Despite the heroics of Patrick Beverley, Austin Reaves, and Anthony Davis in the fourth quarter, the Lakers missed its chance to get to .500 over the weekend, and time is running out for this star-studded team to come good.
They recovered on Sunday with a 117-124 win against the Pistons, but it was no consolation. To get back-to-back wins, the Lakers will have to win the latest chapter of the NBA’s most iconic rivalry against the Celtics on Tuesday night – but this team is so unpredictable that even we’re not going to try predicting what might happen in that matchup. Expect the Celtics to be favored by NBA betting sites, however.
The marquee matchup of the weekend between Golden State and Boston did not disappoint. The 2022 NBA Finals rematch delivered a stunning victory for the Warriors, who look to have recovered the defensive steel that took them to the Championship six months ago.
The Warriors were able to hold off the dynamic duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown even without Andrew Wiggins, its best defensive player. Jordan Poole stepped in to replace him even though many had expected Steve Kerr to give Jonathan Kuminga the opportunity due to his size.
The defensive unit forced a quiet night for the NBA’s best offense - besides 31 from Brown, no Boston player scored more than 20 points. Jayson Tatum’s struggles continued - he went 6-for-21 from the field and 4-for-7 from the free-throw line.
Golden State’s offense wasn’t at its fluid best, but big players for the team stepped up. Steph Curry finished the game with 32 points, six rebounds, and seven assists, and Klay Thompson scored 34, going 14-for-26 from the field.
The win was pivotal, and Golden State can start to see its path to back-to-back championships emerging. The Warriors are now +800 with some USA sports betting sites to win the 2023 NBA Finals, closing in on the top two favorites, the Bucks, and their weekend opponents, the Celtics. Next up for Golden State? A trip to Milwaukee to face the Bucks.
At the end of overtime, MVP chants came from around the Smoothie King Center directed at Zion Williamson. It’s hard to argue with the New Orleans faithful – Williamson has been a class above in 2022.
Despite heavy coverage from Deandre Ayton, Zion Williamson ran the game Sunday night as the Pelicans beat the Suns 129-124 in OT. He scored 35 points, including some magical three-pointers, and collected eight rebounds. He’s been pivotal in every game during this seven-game winning streak that has taken the Pelicans to the top of the Western Conference.
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During the streak, he’s averaged 30 PPG, 9.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists, and a 66.9% shooting percentage from the field. Those are MVP numbers. NBA betting apps still regard Williamson as an outsider, offering +3500 for him to pick up the award at the end of the season.
As with much of the season, the Pelicans had a balanced offense to complement Williamson’s talent. CJ McCollum scored 29 points and was an effective threat, and Dyson Daniels took the sting out of the Suns offense for the second time in a weekend. In Friday night’s win, he shackled Devin Booker effectively; on Sunday, it was Chris Paul’s turn to have Daniels full attention. CP3 scored just 11 points.
With the win, the Pelicans improved to an 18-8 record – that’s the best record in franchise history after 26 games. Is there a better team in the NBA than the Pelicans right now? The scariest thing is that they look set to get better.