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NBA: LA Clippers v Utah Jazz takes top billing in the latest run of games

It looks set to be another defining week in the NBA and there are some mouthwatering matches to look forward to including the LA Clippers v Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers v Brooklyn Nets. We will provide the lowdown and assess these games as well as reference the latest odds, team form and injury news.

Milwaukee Bucks need to arrest recent rut against Toronto Raptors

The Bucks – who boast a 16-12 record this term – went down without barely a whimper against Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday as they slipped to a 114-109 reverse. And their fourth straight defeat came at the hands of Toronto Raptors on Tuesday as they fell to a 124-113 loss.

Giannis Antetokounmpo – who is a reigning MVP (Most Valued Player) – continues to dominate on the floor and he drained 34 points against the Raptors as well as contributing 10 rebounds. But Antetokounmpo acknowledges the Bucks haven’t been feeling themselves as of late. He said: “I kind of have a feeling that everybody is in a panic mode which should not be the case.”

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Toronto Raptors to settle with Tampa base for now

The Toronto Raptors (13-15) will play their remaining home games this season in Tampa. The Amalie Arena has staged Raptors matches due to ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions between Canada and the United States. The decision was initially announced back in November and while Raptors president Masai Ujiri is grateful for the hospitality, he is adamant ‘home is where the heart is’, which is Toronto.

Raptors eyeing NBA play-off berth once again

Formidable is a word used to describe the Raptors who lifted the NBA title in the 2018/19 campaign, and they have reached the playoffs in seven straight seasons. However, the Bucks will represent a stiff test for the Raptors on Thursday night. Of the 94 meetings between the two sides, the Raptors have won 40 times, while the Bucks have triumphed on 54 occasions.

Paul George and Kawhi Leonard continue to help Clippers shoot out lights

The Clippers have been firing on all cylinders and they have been shooting an incredible 42.6% from beyond the arc and 84.7% from the free-throw line. Inspired by Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers are on track to become the only franchise in NBA history to shoot 40%+ and 80%+ respectively in the aforementioned stats in a single season.

Clippers have to continue to pick up the slack without Paul George

With two games in three days against the Jazz, there is little margin for error. At the time of writing, George had missed the Clippers’ last six games and he missed the first leg of a two-part header against the Jazz on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Nicolas Batum was ruled out with a ‘migraine’ when Clippers coach Tyronn Lue gave his pre-match press conference.

The Jazz sit atop the Western Conference and go into Saturday’s clash with the Clippers full of confidence. Against the Philadelphia 76ers, Jazz ran out 134-123 winners and Jordan Clarkson ripped it up when he came off the bench. He scored 40 points, two short of his career-high and the Jazz made the most of Joel Embiid’s absence for the 76ers.

Although Ben Simmons nearly pulled off a triple-double display for the Sixers with 42 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds, the Jazz have been sweeping up nearly everything that has been thrown their way. 

Lakers need to plug Anthony Davis gap

For all the great work they have put in, the LA Lakers are still lacking in one key area. They have cut down on the number of points they have been shipping in the paint, but Anthony Davis’ injury (calf) has made it more pressing to shore things up in the centre. Davis’ absence will be felt but they need an upgrade in this position.

But you can’t imagine the Brooklyn Nets will be in any mood for sympathy. After a tight 128-124 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, James Harden chipped in with 24 points. The Nets were missing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and they overcame a 24-point deficit. The Lakers can’t afford to be complacent or else they will pay the price.

 

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