With just two weeks left in the regular season, everything is still to play for. Only four teams have clinched a spot in the playoffs, the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers, Utah Jazz, and Phoenix Suns. The atmosphere of playoff basketball has started to enter the remaining games. Teams are fighting for positioning in the standings, with some trying to close the door and guarantee their spot. Here are some NBA predictions for this week’s key games.
NBA Predictions: May 3-5
NBA Predictions for May 3: Indiana Pacers @ Washington Wizards
The eastern conference has been a revolving door the entire season. You have teams like the Toronto Raptors who were the four seed at one point, now the twelfth seed. On the other side, the Washington Wizards, who started the season dead last, now have the last play-in spot in their possession. Washington has gotten hot at the right time. Since April 7th, the Wizards have a 12-3 record and have extended the gap to the Chicago Bulls to three games for the tenth seed.
The Wizards will be hosting the Indiana Pacers on Monday night. The Pacers are coming off a dominant 57-point win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Despite the huge win, Indiana has been mediocre as of late. Posting a record of just 5-5 in their last ten games. Malcolm Brogdon also missed Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury. Although it didn’t seem to hinder the Pacers against the struggling Thunder. On top of that, Domantas Sabonis was a game-time decision. The injury bug has seriously thrown a wrench in the works for Indiana, and it is unclear how much they will be impacted.
This game will be critical to the play-in picture. It seems pretty clear-cut. Indiana is hurting going into Washington, and the Wizards are looking to bounce back after a close loss to the Dallas Mavericks. Unless Sabonis and the Pacers can pull off something special, the Wizards will send their fans home happy. Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal will continue their run of good form and leave Chicago in no man’s land. The pressure will be on Indiana to stop their streak of recent frustration.
Prediction: Washington wins and closes the gap to the ninth seed
NBA Predictions for May 4: Brooklyn Nets @ Milwaukee Bucks
This game is the headline of this week. With this matchup, we are getting a preview of a possible Eastern Conference Finals matchup. The Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets will be playing each other Tuesday night. This nationally televised game will be their second meeting this week. Sunday night’s game saw Giannis Antetokounmpo returning from an ankle sprain suffered last week. Giannis showed absolutely no signs of slowing down from the injury, leading the Bucks to a 117-114 win over Brooklyn. Antetokounmpo put up 49 points in 36 minutes of action. Also, Jrue Holiday put the clamps on and completely neutralized Kyrie Irving. Kevin Durant put up a huge 42-point double-double but fell short without the necessary help.
Sunday was just the beginning. Having these two games, this close together is the closest we are getting to playoff basketball right now. The only negative about this game is that James Harden is out and we don’t get the full matchup. Giannis is an absolute athletic freak, but coming off an injury, the Bucks may choose to restrict his minutes as a precaution. Furthermore, Kyrie and Durant will be eager to get rid of the sour taste that that loss left with them. Unless the Bucks can execute another flawless game, Brooklyn will win
Prediction: Milwaukee will have to nurse Giannis and the Nets take the victory
NBA Prediction for May 5: New York Knicks @ Denver Nuggets
While this game does not have any major playoff implications, it is must-watch basketball. The New York Knicks and the Denver Nuggets are two of the most fun-to-watch teams this year. Furthermore, it is a battle between this year’s most likely MVP and MIP. The Julius Randle and Nikola Jokić matchup will be nothing if not entertaining.
However, we won’t be able to fully enjoy these two teams squaring off due to injuries. Jamal Murray tearing his ACL was a shot to the heart of not just Nuggets fans, but basketball fans everywhere. He was having a phenomenal season and a major factor in Denver’s success. Now, Jokić has been having to put even more on his back. Also, Will Barton and Monte Morris have both been ruled out against the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday. It is unclear if they will play in Wednesday’s game. All due respect to PJ Dozier and Facundo Campazzo, but that’s not who you want as your go-to guys in the backcourt. Despite Denver’s stellar play this season, injuries have hit them hard.
New York’s recent play will not be helping Denver at all, either. The Knicks have been, and continue to be, one of the hottest teams in basketball. New York has gone 12-1, including a nine-game win streak since April 9th. This is a brand new Knicks team. Randle has been an absolute force, and he’s not alone. RJ Barrett and Derrick Rose, have been lights out recently. Having those two in your backcourt running the show is lethal. Not to mention, Immanuel Quickley has been one of the stand-out rookies this year, and capable of instantly heating up. This Knicks team is hungry, and they’re coming into Denver looking to make a statement against a top team and this year’s MVP.
Prediction: New York overpowers a weakened Nuggets roster
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