It was great to finally have the NBA back and the four teams that played certainly didn’t disappoint, with both games going down to the wire. We now turn our attention to the second day of action in the bubble where there’s a tasty six game slate set to play out. We bring you our three best picks from the Friday slate right here.
NBA Picks Friday, July 31st
Phoenix Suns at Washington Wizards
The Suns were the last of the 22 teams to qualify for the bubble and have it all to do if they’re to make the playoffs. Coach Monty Williams will see this as a great opportunity for his young players to get invaluable experience at the business end of the season.
The Wizards were also lucky to make the cut and are the only team in the East outside of the top eight to feature. They’ll be without both Bradley Beal and Davis Bertans in the bubble which will make things very tough, particularly on offense.
The Suns are the clear favorites in this matchup and it doesn’t take a genius to understand why. If both clubs were at full strength it would be a genuine 50/50, but that just isn’t the case here. We expect the more talented Suns bubble roster to get the job done by a big margin here.
Memphis Grizzles at Portland Trail Blazers
The Grizzlies have been one of the great surprise packets this season and come into the bubble sitting eighth in the West. They do have one of the toughest schedules of any of the 22 teams, so picking up wins will be crucial whenever they’re on offer.
The Trail Blazers perhaps benefitted the most of any team from the four month hiatus. They welcome back fit versions of Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic who can both make an immediate impact. The Blazers are currently ninth in the West, 3.5 games back from eighth.
This is a crucial game for both sides and may play a big role in who ends up making the playoffs. On Day 1 we saw teams struggling to shoot the ball due to rust, and we think this will be a common theme as teams find their feet. The 224.5 point total looks far too high here, especially considering these teams have gone under that in four of the past five times they’ve met.
Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks
The Celtics have been one of the best teams in the East all season and come into the bubble sitting in the third seed. They have arguably the best starting five of any team and their ability to switch 2 through 5 on defense is second to none and will cause teams plenty of trouble in the playoffs.
The Bucks probably lost the most of any team due to the four month hiatus and relocation to the bubble. They were absolutely storming to the finish line and would have had home court advantage in all four rounds in the playoffs. That said, they’re the number one seed in the East for a reason and will be a tough proposition for whoever they match up with.
This, in our opinion, could very well be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. We rate both of these clubs highly and we should be in for a good showing on Friday. What could be the difference here is the number of bodies the Celtics can throw at Giannis on the defensive end, which could slow them down immensely and disrupt any rhythm they have. For that reason, we love the Celtics with a five point head start on the neutral court.