Eagerly anticipated matchups between the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, and the Philadelphia 76ers and Denver Nuggets didn’t disappoint this weekend as the NBA served up drama, controversy and thrilling action for fans and those who had money riding on the games with NBA betting sites.
A controversial final regulation-time play in the Lakers and Celtics game might have snatched a statement win away from Los Angeles. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Joel Embiid made a splash with a phenomenal individual performance in a comeback win for the Sixers against the Nuggets. Keep reading for our highlights of the weekend’s action.
There was a controversial end to a thrilling Saturday night game between two of the league’s most bitter rivals, as the Boston Celtics beat the Los Angeles Lakers in overtime at TD Garden.
At the end of regulation time, LeBron James was incredibly animated at the failure of the officials to call a foul by Jayson Tatum to have a chance at a walk-off game-winning free throw. The Lakers would go on to lose in OT.
James had another prolific night, finishing with 41 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. With consistent stats like that, he is an easy NBA prop bets pick right now. He’s also just 117 points away from breaking the all-time NBA scoring record. It won’t comfort him, as his Lakers side went toe-to-toe with the Celtics but couldn’t get the win after a call that cost them the game. Postgame, even the officiating team acknowledged their mistake, claiming they missed the foul.
Eleven overtime points for Jaylen Brown, who scored 37 points overall, sealed the win for Boston and ended a three-game losing streak. After the win, the Celtics improved to 36-15 and remained in first place in the Eastern Conference. Los Angeles fell to 23-27, only good enough for 13th place in the West.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ chances to make the play-in are slipping away with each loss, and they next face off against the Brooklyn Nets. The Lakers are 8.5-point underdogs for the Nets game with some US betting apps. They will have to pull together a considerable run to move up the standings and have a hope of playoff basketball this season.
Sometimes when two MVP candidates meet, it can change the MVP conversation overnight. Philadelphia’s comeback win over Denver, led by Joel Embiid’s mesmerizing 47 points, 18 rebounds and five assists, has changed the MVP conversation considerably.
It certainly changed the odds: Embiid was offered at +900 pregame and is now as low as +250 with some NBA betting apps to win the Michael Jordan Trophy. Embiid played a different sport from the other players on the court in this game, and his heroics have taken the Sixers to within 2.5 games of first place in the East.
Embiid has finished in second place in the MVP voting the last two years, each time behind Denver’s Nikola Jokic. On Saturday, in prime time, there was no doubting who deserved the accolades. “He’s really talented,” Jokic said of Embiid postgame, “really shifty.”
Embiid had plenty to prove after missing out on a starting place in the Eastern Conference All-Star lineup. “I’m used to it, and it’s not the first time,” said Embiid about the snub. “It’s more of a motivation to go out there and win the whole thing. That’s the only way I’ll get that respect.”
Philadelphia’s supporting cast also had big games against the best in the West, with James Harden scoring 17 points and contributing 13 assists without a turnover in the win. The Sixers are now seven games without a loss, the longest active winning streak in the NBA, and their odds of winning the NBA championship are narrowing with USA sports betting sites.
With two winnable games against the Orlando Magic before hosting against the 12-28 San Antonio Spurs and 27-24 New York Knicks, this 76ers team might go into a mouth-watering matchup with the Boston Celtics on February 9 on an 11-game win streak. After the Philadelphia Eagles made the Super Bowl, could the 76ers reach their first NBA Finals since 2001? If Joel Embiid continues to post big numbers, there’s no reason why not.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has had a breakout season in 2022-23 and led his Oklahoma City Thunder team to another win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night. He scored 30+ points for the fourth consecutive night on the way to a 112-100 win.
SGA made 12-of-21 shots from the field to shoot 35 in the win, adding eight assists and five rebounds. Cleveland was without All-Star Donovan Mitchell due to a groin injury, and Darius Garland scored 31 points and had 13 assists in his absence. Still, it wasn’t enough to prevent the Thunder from notching up its sixth win in eight games to take it to within half a game of the play-in places – they would have been unlikely NBA picks for the postseason before a ball was tipped this season.
"I thought the guys played with great force,” said OKC head coach Mark Daigneault, “The physicality tonight, you’re not beating a team like that the way that we did unless you’re physical. And I thought we were physical on both ends.”
With a record of 24-25, putting them in 11th place, OKC is only half a game behind the Utah Jazz. With two games against both the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets in the next 10 days, consecutive wins now could help them break up the NBA standings.
Oklahoma City is only three games behind third place in a competitive West. The Thunder are valued at +100 to win over 38.5 games with some sportsbooks, which is likely to be enough for a play-in spot.