Inform your NBA predictions ahead of this week's biggest games with Pinnacle's weekly update, including analysis, team news and the latest basketball odds.
The Boston Celtics have a league-leading record of 13-4 (.765 winning percentage), but the NBA Championship favorites (+371*) might have to deal with some injury issues in the short term. Boston’s two big offseason acquisitions, Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porziņģis, are both injured.
Holiday missed Sunday’s win against Atlanta with an ankle injury, while Porziņģis has a calf injury that will be re-evaluated in a week.
Guard Payton Pritchard and center Al Horford will likely need to take on more minutes with Holiday and Porziņģis out, and it will be interesting to find out if the Celtics can remain just as successful with two star players out of the line-up.
The good news for the Celtics is that they have a light schedule this week, hosting Chicago on Tuesday and Philadelphia on Friday.
Here are some NBA trends and topics to ponder this week.
Suns heating up
After opening the season with a 4-6 record through 10 games, the Phoenix Suns have reeled off seven consecutive victories. Suddenly, this team look like championship contenders.
Kevin Durant has been terrific for the Suns, averaging 31.4 points per game, but has missed the past two games with a foot injury.
No matter, as Devin Booker has dropped 68 points in two games with Durant sidelined. The Suns have been accomplishing this without Bradley Beal as well, who is still dealing with a back issue.
Eric Gordon, Grayson Allen and Jusuf Nurkić all have double-digit scoring averages this month, and the Suns getting reliable complementary scoring is a big deal. There is little reason to suspect that stars like Durant and Booker are going to get held down, so the Suns have the firepower to outgun the opposition. The Suns have the fourth shortest odds to win the title, priced at +755* at Pinnacle.
Phoenix heads north to face Toronto on Wednesday, before returning home to take on Denver on Friday and Memphis on Saturday.
Magic have reached a new level
Entering this season, the Orlando Magic appeared to be a team that were ready to improve on last season’s 34-48 record.
Not only have Orlando improved, but they are riding a seven-game winning streak, pushing their season record to 12-5 following Sunday’s win against Charlotte. Four of Orlando’s past five wins have included a double-digit margin of victory.
It comes as little surprise that Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner are the team’s top two scorers, but it’s worth noting that the next highest scorers on the Magic roster – Cole Anthony and Moritz Wagner – are coming off the bench. The Magic are priced at +5000* to win the NBA championship.
The thriving Magic have a favorable schedule this week, too. They host Washington for back-to-back home games on Wednesday and Friday, before visiting Brooklyn on Saturday.
Bulls parading towards the lottery
The Chicago Bulls are sinking fast. After starting the season 2-2, the Bulls have posted a 3-11 record since. They are currently riding a four-game losing streak, during which they have been outscored by 54 points.
With the Bulls falling out of playoff contention, they are an interesting team for trade partners, because Chicago have some intriguing assets to deal if they decide to go that route.
DeMar DeRozan is the Bulls’ second leading scorer and is on an expiring deal. The 34-year-old is making $28.6 million this season, which should not be that difficult to move. If the Bulls really wanted to shake things up, they could shop veteran centers Nikola Vucevic and Andre Drummond, as well as shooting guard Zach LaVine. LaVine still has two more years plus a player option left on his max deal after the current season, which might not be as easy to move, but if a contender sees LaVine as the No. 3 option that can put them over the top, the Bulls would have to consider any serious offers for him.
If the Bulls start finding contenders that will take these players, that should ensure a losing record in Chicago. While that is the likely outcome anyway, the Bulls could make a concerted effort to rebuild, maybe sooner than they ever expected.
This week, the Bulls are at Boston on Tuesday, before returning home to face Milwaukee on Thursday and New Orleans on Saturday. That is not exactly a schedule that invites the Bulls to bust out of their current slump.
Nuggets slumping without Murray
The defending champions, the Denver Nuggets, opened the season with an 8-1 record and looked like they were on track to defend their title.
However, a hamstring injury has knocked guard Jamal Murray out of the line-up, and the Nuggets have lost four of their past six contests. The wins have come against Detroit and San Antonio, two of the worst teams in the league, so they barely count.
With Murray out, Michael Porter Jr. has stepped into a bigger scoring role, putting up 18.5 points per game in November. During the most recent six games, the Nuggets have allowed 114.7 points per game, notably higher than the 109.2 points per game that they are allowing for the season. The market does not seem to believe this is a long-term issue for the Nuggets as they are still priced at +480* to win the championship, the shortest odds among Western Conference teams.
It is not an easy week ahead for Denver, either. After visiting the Clippers on Monday, they are at home against Houston on Wednesday, before hitting the road again to face Phoenix and Sacramento on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
Bet: Latest NBA odds