Milwaukee - Brooklyn
The Charlotte Bobcats, if the NBA’s regular season ended today, would officially be the worst play-off team in history. And the Eastern Conference would be crowned as an apocalyptic wasteland where very little of significance survives.
With Atlanta crushing Cleveland on Friday, it raised the number of teams in the East to three with winning records but the Hawks, Indiana and Miami apart, it’s a sea of mediocrity. The likes of Boston, Washington and, yes, the woeful Bobcats, are on track to make the post-season. No wonder many are openly pondering whether a .500 record should be the minimal required to advance.
The saving grace is that these are early days still and a solid winning streak will propel those on the outside of the top eight into the race. Which offers hope for both the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks, the Conference’s bottom two, ahead of their Saturday clash.
No-one expected the Bucks to contend, however. The Nets have no such excuses. But they showed in their Thursday annihilation to the Knicks that even against fellow strugglers, they have the ability to self-destruct. One key reason is that Brooklyn are a terrible defensive team on the perimeter, allowing opponents to convert 41.6 percent of their three-point attempts. That could help Milwaukee, who are shooting 37.7 and coming off a morale boosting overtime win over Washington.
The Bucks are 2.25 to win but they’ll fear Brook Lopez, especially if Zaza Pachulia continues to join Larry Sanders on the sidelines. The Nets centre could find easy scoring opportunities inside and with that focus, look under the total points line of 189.5 in the battle of the uglies.
The Western Conference is holding up a little better with ten teams above .500 and all but two within one win of parity. The gruesome twosome that are seemingly out of contention are the Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz, who square off in Salt Lake City.
The Kings have lost six straight while the woeful Jazz – who are 1.75 to win - were down by as much as 42 in their Friday’s humbling to Portland. But both have sieve-like defences so look over the total points line of 193.5 at 1.90.
Go under the total points line of 189.5 in Milwaukee-Brooklyn at 1.92
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