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NBA Highs & Lows: Celtics Keep Streaking, Rockets Keep Sliding

Denver Still Atop West Despite Rare Loss

There’s starting to be some separation in what has been a very jumbled NBA picture, as both the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets (and just behind them, the Memphis Grizzlies) have put a little distance between them and their contenders.

Each of these teams has been a favorable choice for those making a bet online. Let’s take a closer look at what’s driving them, as well as what’s sinking others.

Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics dribbles against the Golden State Warriors during the first half
Maddie Meyer - AFP

Let’s check the latest NBA news, stats, injury report and NBA lines. We’ve got plenty of NBA picks for you to consider.

Top Five

1. Boston Celtics

The Celtics are on their second nine-game winning streak of the season. They’ll aim for their first 10-game run since early in the 2019-20 season when they visit Orlando on Monday.

The fact that the streak began after the team’s worst season loss says something. They hit bottom (the 150-117 setback at Oklahoma City was their seventh loss in a 12-game span), reassessed their situation, and then took the league by storm once again. And they did it while managing their own set of injuries.

That’s the mark of a championship-caliber squad, as is the fact that six of the nine straight wins have come on the road. Moreover, on Thursday at home, they rallied in an NBA Finals rematch to win in overtime against the Golden State Warriors, one of several gritty performances during the run.

A Sunshine State back-to-back begins this week, after which the Celtics get four straight at home. There are worse places you can go with your sports bets than on Boston to win it all.

  • +400 NBA Championship Odds

2. Denver Nuggets

They had a nine-game run of their own that finally ended Sunday night, but it was with Nikola Jokic out with hamstring tightness and by just two points. But this doesn’t mean much; any NBA betting expert will know that.

During the streak, the Nuggets averaged 122.6 points while giving up just 107.3, an absolute buzzsaw of a stretch in which they also shot 53% from the floor. When Jokic was out Friday night against Indiana, guard Jamal Murray did his best Nikola impression with his first career triple-double. On Sunday against Oklahoma City, Michael Porter Jr. joined Jokic on the sidelines.

Those absences, plus a 17-for-33 team effort at the foul line, were a little too much to overcome.

That result finished a five-game homestand. Denver now plays 10 of the next 16 on the road, including visits to New Orleans, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Miami, Cleveland and Memphis. It won’t be easy to stay atop the heap, but if Jokic returns soon, the squad will be just fine.

  • +800 NBA Championship Odds

3. Memphis Grizzlies

They carried an 11-game winning streak into Los Angeles this weekend before getting knocked off by a Lakers team in need of a win. The Grizzlies then followed that up with a setback at Phoenix, a team they had defeated by 30 points six days earlier.

The see-saw nature of the last week is keeping with the home/road dynamic Memphis has had much of the season. The Grizzlies’ 20-3 record at home is the best in the NBA based on winning percentage, but they’re only 11-12 on the road.

Memphis is such an electric club. A little more consistency would help pave a path to the NBA Finals.

  • +900 NBA Championship Odds

4. Philadelphia 76ers

They’re threatening to move even higher after a 5-0 road trip, the last of which was a huge win at Sacramento with both Joel Embiid and James Harden resting.

“That was a resilient win by our guys,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers said on Saturday after the 129-127 triumph over a really good Kings team. “Everyone who played did something to help us win tonight. It’s a team win.”

Philadelphia’s reward is a stretch in which it plays 10 of the next 14 at home. There are two massive matchups with Boston in that span. The Sixers entered Monday 4½ games behind the Celtics in the East. Additionally, to check out more specific information about the NBA props available for the 76ers vs Mavericks matchup.

Philadelphia has the worst championship odds of our top five. It is a great pick at this point to win it all.

  • +1800 NBA Championship Odds

5. Brooklyn Nets

They were winless in their first four games without Kevin Durant, but they were mostly competitive. Behind Kyrie Irving, they figured some things out in a big streak-busting win at Utah the other night and then followed it up with an impressive triumph at Golden State on Sunday.

Irving had 86 total points in the two wins as he does his best to make up for the absence of Durant, who is expected to get an evaluation on his knee early this week.

  • +700 NBA Championship Odds

Bottom Five

26. Orlando Magic

The young Magic have been stuck in this spot for a little bit now, sort of the best of the worst the league has to offer. They followed a 2-3 road trip with a win over the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, only to go to Washington the next night and get pancaked by the Wizards, the team directly in front of them in the standings.

Monday at home against Boston is another great barometer. The Magic stunned the Celtics with two straight wins at TD Garden last month. If they can end Boston’s streak tonight, it might be enough to send them out of the bottom five next week.

  • +100000 NBA Championship Odds

27. Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets have opened a four-game road trip with back-to-back wins, their first winning streak since late November. Like the Magic, if they can win Monday (at Utah), it would go a long way toward getting them out of the bottom five. However, we might need to see some wins at home, where Charlotte is a league-worst 5-16.

  • +100000 NBA Championship Odds

28. San Antonio Spurs

They actually have a slightly better record than Charlotte entering the week, but San Antonio is trending in a bad direction. It begins a three-game road trip at Portland on Monday and plays 12 of the next 16 away from home.

When the dust settles, we may see the Spurs at the very bottom of the pile.

  • +100000 NBA Championship Odds

29. Detroit Pistons

They pop up with a win here and there but almost always follow it up with three or four losses, a consistent march toward what could be the team’s first 60-loss campaign since 1993-94.

The last loss was in Paris on Thursday, as Detroit fell to Chicago 126-108. Victor Wembanyama was sitting courtside for that one, potentially checking out some future teammates.

  • +100000 NBA Championship Odds

30. Houston Rockets

We’ve circled Jan. 28 on the calendar. That’s when Houston will travel to Detroit and snap a losing streak that stands at 13 entering Monday’s action.

The streak is tied for the sixth-longest in franchise history and the team’s defense – the one aspect of the Rockets’ game that showed some promise early on – has gone out the window. Opponents are averaging 128.3 points over the last six games, 122.9 for the duration of the streak.

  • +100000 NBA Championship Odds

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