The NBA is live on Sky Sports every Sunday and there is a fascinating encounter taking place between two Western conference teams with playoff aspirations this week. Nick Shiambouros previews the game along with the picks for the rest of this weekend's action.
Golden State Warriors at Minnesota Timberwolves
Live on Sky Sports 3, Sunday 20.30
I am delighted that Sky Sports has chosen this game highlighting two of the lesser-known NBA teams.
The Warriors are having an outstanding season under second-year coach Mark Jackson. They have a 32-23 record and are poised to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Warriors' point guard Stephen Curry is having another super season averaging 21.1 points per game. He can do it all and is shooting an incredible 44 percent from the three-point line.
Power forward David Lee is another player putting up some impressive numbers. Lee is averaging 19 points per game and is a real powerhouse inside the paint.
Golden State will have the luxury of playing 16 of its last 22 games at home, a huge advantage heading in to the latter part of the season. They should make the playoffs with a handsome winning record.
The Timberwolves come into the mix with a 20-32 record. Twelfth place in the Western conference, the team still has an outside chance of making the playoffs.
Despite injuries to Kevin Love and Chase Budinger, the Timberwolves have resisted making a move before the trade deadline. Although the team is in need of outside shooters, management wisely passed over an opportunity to trade just for the sake of doing so.
Timberwolves center Nikola Pekovic has stepped up his game over the past few seasons. Averaging 16.1 points per game, he is capable of scoring heavily from underneath the basket. Minnesota will rely extensively on his physical presence inside the paint on Sunday due to its lack of perimeter shooters.
Point guard Ricky Rubio has taken a while to adjust to life in the NBA but remains a star-in-the-making. If Rubio can improve his shooting, he will become a valuable asset to the Minnesota franchise.
I think the Timberwolves can pull off an upset win over the Warriors. They have a home-court record of 13-13 and can take advantage of a team that carried a five-game losing streak into the All-Star break.
The Dallas Mavericks host the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday in a nationally televised game in the United States. Both teams have losing records, thus I am scratching my head as to why this game commands national attention. Nevertheless, the Mavs have been playing well recently and should have the edge.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will play host to the Chicago Bulls late Sunday. The Bulls have played remarkably well without superstar Derrick Rose. The point guard has been out this season with a knee injury and only recently returned to practice.
The Thunder has lost only four home-court games this season and should prevail in this intriguing encounter.
The Boston Celtics, limping in to the post-season due to a spate of injuries, travel to the Utah Jazz on Monday. The Jazz has a super home record and should take advantage of a veteran Celtics team that has one eye on the playoffs.
Sunday: 2pts back Minnesota Timberwolves in match odds market at around 2.56/4 Live on Sky Sports 3 20:30.
Sunday: 1pts back Dallas Mavericks in match odds market at around 1.84/5
Sunday: 1pt back Oklahoma City Thunder with advertised handicap at around 1.910/11
Monday: 2pt back Utah Jazz in match odds market at around 1.75/7