The countdown to the restart of this season is close with a few days left. Ahead of the restart, we preview some of the exciting first-round encounters.
New Orleans Pelicans VS. Utah Jazz
New Orleans Pelicans kick off the NBA restart in Orlando with an exciting clash against Utah Jazz. Thanks to their superior win percentage, the Pelicans have made it to Orlando as one of the 22 teams eligible teams for the remainder of the season. The Pelicans have momentum on their side heading into this game with two impressive wins over Brooklyn Nets and Denver Nuggets in their first two Entergy scrimmage games.
The Pelicans currently occupy the 10th position in the Western Conference and fourth in the Southwest Division with a 28-36 win-loss record and a .438 win percentage. They still retain a good chance of finishing the regular season in the remaining playoff spots in the Western Conference. They will be relying on Zion Williamson and their other exciting young talents to get them over the line.
Unlike their opponents, Utah Jazz has already qualified for the playoffs. However, they will be looking to move up the table from their current 4th position in the Western Conference. Utah Jazz beat Miami Heat 101-99 in their second game of the scrimmage to bounce back from the 101-88 loss to the Phoenix Suns in their first game. With the likes of Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley fit to play, the Pelicans could have a rough night.
Prediction: New Orleans Pelicans VS. Utah Jazz- 110-112
Los Angeles Lakers VS. Los Angeles Clippers
It is a clash between this season’s top two teams in the Western Conference as the Lakers battle their cross-town rivals Clippers in what could be a thrilling fourth encounter between the two sides this season.
The Lakers had already lost twice to the Clippers earlier before beating them in their last away game before the suspension of the season. They will also be looking to return to winning ways after losing their previous game against the Nets before the suspension. The Lakers have lost one (108-104 against Dallas Mavericks) and won one (119-112 against Orlando Magic) of their last two scrimmages.
The Clippers are also in search of a third win over their fierce rivals and will go into this game with momentum on their side following two crucial wins over Orlando Magic and Washington in their last two scrimmages. With most of their standout players present in Orlando, another upset could be on the cards.
Prediction: Los Angeles Lakers VS. Los Angeles Clippers- 120-116
Milwaukee Bucks VS. Boston Celtics
It is first against third in the Eastern Conference as Milwaukee Bucks take on Boston Celtics in Orlando. Both teams have already secured playoff qualifications this season.
The Bucks have lost one won one of the first two encounters against the Celtics this season. They will be looking to claim a vital win in the final game between both teams this season. The Bucks have also picked up from where they left off with two impressive wins over San Antonio Spurs (113-92) and Sacramento Kings (131-123) in their last two scrimmage games. In both games, Giannis has also continued his impressive form. With him in the starting lineup, the Bucks could grab a comfortable win over the Celtics.
Boston Celtics, on the other hand, were sluggish in their first scrimmage game as they lost 98-84 to Oklahoma City Thunder. However, they still have two more scrimmage games to improve their performances before they meet the Bucks. The outcome of both games could also possibly determine how the Celtics will fare in their remaining games of the season.
Prediction: Milwaukee Bucks VS. Boston Celtics- 121-106
Brooklyn Nets VS. Orlando Magic
The Nets take on the Magic in a game between two sides who currently occupy the remaining two playoff positions in the Eastern Conference.
The Nets are 6th on the table and are looking forward to finishing the season on an excellent note. However, the absence of Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie, and other key players is already threatening to end the Nets’ playoff dreams before the NBA restarts. In their last two scrimmage games, the Nets have lost one (99-68 against New Orleans Pelicans) and won one (124-119 against San Antonio Spurs). Interim Head Coach Jacque Vaughn would have to reshuffle his team and rely on some of the non-regular starters to help them win against the Magic.
The Magic head into this game as favorites, having beaten the Nets in their previous two encounters this season. However, two losses from their last two scrimmage games against the Clippers and the Lakers indicate that the Magic team is currently not in good form. Head Coach Steve Clifford and his men will have to be at their best if they want to get a positive result. A win for Magic will also see them leapfrog the Nets on the Eastern Conference table.
Prediction: Brooklyn Nets VS. Orlando Magic- 106-112