At the start of the final week before the All-Star Break, five hot teams won at least five consecutive games. The Boston Celtics (33-25) extended their winning streak to eight games in a row thanks to their top-notch defense. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat (37-20), Phoenix Suns (46-10), Memphis Grizzlies (40-18), and Utah Jazz (35-21) each have a five-game winning streak on the line with a couple of games on deck before the break begins later in the week.
Jayson Tatum from the Boston Celtics takes an uncontested shot during a 38-point performance against the Atlanta Hawks to keep their winning streak alive. (Image: Winslow Townsend/AP)
The NBA trade deadline is finally behind everyone. The Boston Celtics were active, but they did not break up Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown despite numerous rumors swirling around New England since Christmas.
Just before the trade deadline, the Celtics and Houston Rockets worked out a trade. General manager Brad Stevens sent Dennis Schroder, Enes Freedom, Bruno Fernando to the Rockets in an exchange for big man Daniel Theis. Theis returned to the Celtics after spending the first half of the season with Houston.
The Celtics also snagged Derrick White (14.4 ppg) in a trade with the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs acquired Josh Richardson, Romeo Langford, and a couple draft picks for White.
On the flip side, the Brooklyn Nets continued their slide even after they announced a trade with the Philadelphia 76ers to acquire Ben Simmons in exchange for James Harden. Their losing streak reached 11 losses in a row and counting.
Celtics: Big D, Ocho Wins
In the first week of January, the Celtics were 19-21 and two games under .500. Since then, they went on 12-4 streak including an eight-game winning streak and 10 wins in their last 11 games. On Sunday, Tatum lit up the Hawks for 38 points to lead the Celtics to their eighth win in a row.
The Celtics laddered up to the #6 seed, but they’re just 4.5 games out of first place thanks to tough-as-nails defense. The Celtics allow only 103.6 points per game, which is the second-best scoring defense in the Eastern Conference and the four-best defense in the NBA.
During their recent eight-game winning streak, the Celtics held opponents to under 97 points six times. Their lockdown defense even held four opponents to 93 or fewer points. In their last five losses, they allowed teams to score 108-plus points against them.
If you like betting NBA totals, the Celtics are the fifth-best under team in the NBA with a 34-23-1 clip. The under is 9-2 in their last 11 games.
The Celtics have two more games before the break and could extend their winning streak to double digits. They have a back-to-back against Joel Embiid and Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, and then host the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday. Harden should make his debut on Tuesday, so the Celtics/76ers game will be must-see TV.
Despite the surge, the Celtics are only +4000 odds to win the 2022 NBA championship.
Heat: 5 Straight
The streaky Miami Heat ended a three-game skid with a five-game winning streak. They held on to the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings with a big win over the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday thanks to 19 points and 14 rebounds from Bam Adebayo. The Heat are thrilled he’s back in the line up after missing time recovering from thumb surgery.
The Heat host Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavs on Tuesday, then head to Buzz City on Thursday to play the high-octane Charlotte Hornets. The Hornets seek to avenge an 18-point loss from last weekend.
If you’re an NBA totals bettor, the Heat are the best over team in the NBA with a 35-22 clip.
The Heat had a slight imbalance in their schedule with more road games in the first half of the season. They get to play 16 out of their final 25 games at home this season, with just nine more games on the road. Their worst stretch occurs at the end of March and early April with three away games against the Celtics, Bulls, and Raptors. With so many extra home games in the last eight weeks of the season, the Heat are in a good position to retain the #1 seed and secure home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Heat are +1200 odds to win the NBA championship, but only +550 odds to win the top-heavy Eastern Conference and lock up a spot in the NBA Finals for a second time in the last three seasons.
Suns Still Hot
Suns padded the best record in the lead thanks to a five-game winning streak with impressive wins against the Chicago Bulls, Philadelphia 76ers, and Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks defeated the Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals, but the Suns got a bit of revenge on the Bucks with a 24-point blow out last Thursday.
The Suns opened up a 4.5-game lead over the Golden State Warriors in second place. Only 7.5 games separate the top seven teams in the Eastern Conference, but seven games separate the top three teams out west. It’s tough to make up ground on the Suns, when they follow up a loss with a win. The Suns dropped only two games since the start of 2022, and they saw their championship odds improve to +425.
Grizzlies 40 Wins, Jazz Bounce Back
The Grizzlies continued to hold on to the #3 seed in the Western Conference and they only trail the Suns and Warriors. They became only the third team in the NBA to win 40 games behind the Suns and Warriors. Betting wise, the Grizzlies are the top team in the NBA with a 39-19 ATS record.
Ja Morant leads a high-energy, full-gas offense that generates 113.6 ppg as the second-best scoring team in the west. The Grizzlies cranked out 132-plus points in three out of their last four games.
The Grizzlies have just two more games before the break against playoff bubble teams like the New Orleans Pelicans and Portland Trail Blazers. Despite holding the third-best record in the NBA, the Griz are still long shots to win the title at +2500 odds.
The Utah Jazz were spinning out of control in January with a 5-12 record before they finally corrected their ship after ending a five-game losing streak. They’re holding steady with the #4 seed in the Western Conference, but trail the Suns by 11 games.
After getting Donovan Mitchell (concussion) back in the lineup, the Jazz bounced back with a five-game winning streak with key wins against the Denver Nuggets, Brooklyn Nets, and Golden State Warriors. Jazz blew out the Warriors by 26 points to end their nine-game winning streak.
With two more games before the All-Star Break, the Jazz are in a good spot to extend their winning streak. They host the last-place Houston Rockets tonight, and then head to Hollywood on Wednesday to play the struggling Los Angeles Lakers. Bettors are not too keen on the Jazz, who are +1600 odds to win the title.