Sky Sports has another fantastic double-header of live NBA action on Sunday featuring teams from both conferences. Nick Shiambouros previews both games along with his best picks...
Chicago Bulls @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Live on Sky Sports 2 Sunday 19.00
The Timberwolves have slipped to 24-43 for the season. A month ago Minnesota had a chance of making the post-season but after losing 12 of 16 they have little or no chance of making the playoffs.
Forward Kevin Love is sidelined indefinitely with a hand injury, and his presence inside the paint will be sorely missed. Due to the absence of Love the Timberwolves will once again rely on their perimeter game which has not been working lately. In fact, from behind the arc, they rank last in the NBA at 29.4%.
The Bulls are 36-31 and currently own the sixth seed in the East. Chicago needs to finish the regular season with a flurry to avoid a possible first round playoff encounter with Miami or Indiana.
Superstar guard Derrick Rose has missed the entire season so far, but is expected to be back in action before the end of the regular season.
One player who has excelled this season is center Joakim Noah who is averaging 12.1 points per game. This young man never knows when to quit and will run his heart out for Chicago. He will pick up plenty of cheap points underneath the basket.
Chicago has a decent bench and should get plenty of production from Marco Belinelli and Jimmy Butler.
I think the Bulls have an excellent chance of winning this one. They are capable of hurting the Timberwolves inside the paint and should be backed accordingly.
San Antonio Spurs @ Houston Rockets
Live on Sky Sports 2 Sunday 23.00
The Spurs are riding high in the West with a record of 53-16. This veteran team manages to reinvent itself every season with a few subtle changes to the roster. The core of the team remains intact with Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
Forward Kawhi Leonard has become a valuable asset for San Antonio. In only his second year in the league he is developing in to one of the best small forwards in the NBA. Leonard is effective on both ends of the floor and is shooting an excellent 36.5 % from downtown.
The Rockets are 38-31 and currently hold the seventh spot in the West. They really need to put a good run together to avoid San Antonio or Oklahoma City in the first round of the playoffs.
On Friday night they crushed Cleveland 116-78. The starters sat out the fourth quarter ahead of this crucial game.
Houston moved heaven and earth to sign James Harden from Oklahoma at the beginning of the season, and the move has paid handsome dividends. Harden is averaging 26.3 points per game and has the ability to take over a game. He has incredible speed and can get to the hoop in any number of ways.
The Rockets have won two in a row and I think they can pull off the mild upset with a victory on Sunday.
The Miami Heat extended their winning streak to a jaw dropping 25 games on Friday by coming from behind yet again to topple Detroit. The great LeBron James shot an incredible 80 percent from the field and is averaging 26.7 points per game.
Miami should make it 26 in a row on Sunday when they host the dreadful Charlotte Bobcats. A victory against Charlotte would move them within seven of tying the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers for the longest winning streak in NBA history.
The Heat take on Orlando on Monday in what appears to be an easy task, but I think the streak will come to an end in Chicago on Wednesday. The Bulls have a lot to play for and will give Miami a real test.
2pts back Chicago Bulls with advertised handicap at around 1.910/11
1pt back Houston Rockets in the match odds market at around 2.26/5
2pts back Chicago Bulls in the match odds market at around 2.01/1 (Wednesday)