There’s a quarter of the NBA season remaining with only five full weekends of action left on the schedule. The Milwaukee Bucks have two big games this weekend against the Chicago Bulls and the Phoenix Suns, which marks a rematch of the 2021 NBA Finals. The top two teams in the Eastern Conference meet on Saturday when the #2 Philadelphia 76ers head to South Beach to play the #1 Miami Heat.

76ers Harden Embiid Heat Suns Bucks Bulls NBA
Joel Embiid from the Philadelphia 76ers congratulates teammate James Harden on hitting a bucket. (Image: David Sherman/Getty)

The #10 New Orleans Pelicans and the #9 Lakers are jockeying for spots in the Western Conference play-in game with the #11 Portland Trail Blazers sitting on the bubble. The utterly lost LA Lakers are in a tailspin and have a tough foe this weekend when Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors visit Hollywood.

Meanwhile, the #1 seed is up for grabs in the top-heavy Eastern Conference with six teams within five games of first place. The surging Philadelphia 76ers won four games in a row and they’re 3-0 with James Harden in the lineup since joining the team in a mega-trade for Ben Simmons in February.

NBA Friday: Greek Freak vs DDR, Embiid vs Mobley

Cleveland Cavs (36-26) at Philadelphia 76ers (38-23)… The Cavs are the surprise team in the Eastern Conference this season thanks to inspiring play from Rookie of the Year candidate Evan Mobley. He will have his hands full trying to defend the NBA’s leading scorer and MVP frontrunner Joel Embiid.

Milwaukee Bucks (38-25) at Chicago Bulls (39-24)… The Bucks and Bulls meet as the marquee matchup of the night on Friday in the Windy City. DeMar DeRozan (28.1 ppg, 51.5% FGs) has been playing like an MVP candidate this season, and Zach LaVine returned after a minor knee injury. Alas, the Bulls slipped to the #3 seed in the East, and the Bucks are right behind them with the #4 seed and trail by one game.

Utah Jazz (39-22) at New Orleans Pelicans (26-36)… The Jazz are one of the hotter teams in the NBA right now riding high on a 9-1 clip thanks to Donovan Mitchell. Spida dropped 30-plus points in four out of his last five games. The Pelicans are playing their best ball of the season right now, but we’ll see how they really hold up against a top-tiered team in the Western Conference.

Houston Rockets (15-47) at Denver Nuggets (36-26)… The lackluster Rockets are in the middle of another double-digit losing streak after dropping 11 losses in a row. The roughshod Rockets have to contend with the thin air of Colorado and battle the Joker. Nikola Jokic (25.4 pgg, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists) and the Nuggets are 8-2 in their last ten games.

NBA Saturday: Steph Curry vs LeBron James, Heat/76ers East Showdown

Philadelphia 76ers (38-23) at Miami Heat (42-22)… Are the 76ers and Heat a preview of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals? The addition of Harden makes the 76ers even more dangerous, but they’ll meet their first big challenge since the Simmons/Harden swap when they hit the road to play the Heat. The Heat went 8-2 in their last ten games to claim a solo hold on the #1 seed, but they’re trying to fend off the new and improved 76ers in the #2 seed, who trail them by 2.5 games.

Orlando Magic (15-48) at Memphis Grizzlies (43-21)… The inexperienced Magic are in contention for worst team in the league, but we adore Ja Morant so much that we’ll gladly watch the league’s most exciting player go to work against one of the bottom feeders in the NBA. The Grizzlies are the best betting team in the NBA with a 42-22 ATS record.

Golden State Warriors (43-20) at LA Lakers (27-35)LeBron James insists the Lakers can fix their leaks and avoid bubbling the playoffs, but time is running out. The Lakers have one of the hardest schedules in the last quarter of the season, including this tough matchup against the Splash Brothers in prime-time.

NBA Sunday: Suns/Bucks Rematch

Brooklyn Nets (32-32) at Boston Celtics (38-27)… Despite holding down the #8 seed, the Nets are in a dangerous spot and just two games away from missing the play-in tournament. The good news is that Kevin Durant returned to the lineup since missing over 20 games with a knee injury, but Ben Simmons has yet to play for his new team due to a sore back. The Nets are fadeworthy as the worst betting team in the NBA at 24-39-1 ATS. The Celtics have been on a roll with a 13-2 run over their previous 15 games.

Phoenix Suns (50-12) at Milwaukee Bucks (38-25)… The Suns meet the defending champs for the first time in Beer City since they were eliminated in the 2021 NBA Finals in Game 6. The Suns enacted revenge in their first meeting of the season back in February when they crushed the Bucks in a 24-point defeat at Phoenix. It might be tough for the Suns to go on the road and pull off another blowout without Chris Paul (fractured thumb) and Devin Booker (COVID-19) in the lineup.

New Orleans Pelicans (26-36) at Denver Nuggets (36-26)… The Pelicans have a chance to pick up ground on the struggling Lakers when they head to the Mile High City to battle the reigning MVP Nikola Jokic. CJ McCollum has been on a tear since joining the Pelicans in a trade. With McCollum in the lineup, the Pelicans went 4-2 in their last six games and seized the #10 seed away from the Portland Trail Blazers, who are now on the bubble.

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