Portland Trail Blazers vs Indiana Pacers (BET and STREAM LIVE on Unibet TV from 03.00 GMT)
The team with the best record in the NBA meets the side with the most surprising mark to date on Monday when the 16-1 Indiana Pacers travel to the 14-3 Portland Trail Blazers.
And Indy continues to demonstrate they’re an exceptional team with their 105-100 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, despite an immensely favourable fixture list over the season’s opening month, they’re every inch a genuine rival to Miami for supremacy in the East.
Paul George has been in MVP form, leading the Pacers in scoring in all but two games in averaging 23.6 points and 6.1 rebounds. And although strength of schedule is a factor here, his further improvement has Indiana believing that they can be a championship contender – with their title odds now at 5.50.
Portland’s emergence has them down to 20.00 for the championship but there’s little prospect of them being in that race despite their improvements. LaMarcus Aldridge will have to break through the most efficient interior defence in the NBA while the Pacers starting line-up is by far the most effective.
Back Indiana to prevail but with Portland coming off a tough win over the Lakers on Sunday, go under the total points line as the pace slows a little.
Utah Jazz vs Houston Rockets
Another team to keep a close eye on over the next month is the Houston Rockets, who have won eight of their last nine while averaging a league-high 111.6 points, making them the NBA’s most potent offense. They visit the Utah Jazz, who were beaten 104-93 when the sides met earlier in the season.
The Rockets were mis-firing a little then but they’re now on a roll. And if they can keep up that momentum during a December spell in which they also meet Golden State, Portland, Memphis, Indiana and San Antonio, then their current title odds of 18.00 might look a little generous.
Best bet: Take Indiana on the handicap over Portland at 1.85.