Nets and Celtics Out to Show They are NBA Contenders

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Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics can make a statement in the East on the NBA's resumption after the All-Star break.

Head coach Steve Nash talks to his Brooklyn Nets players

Following the All-Star Game break, the NBA action returns on Thursday in what promises to be a fascinating second half of the season.

In the East, Philadelphia 76ers lead the way at present but several big names are queuing up behind them to challenge for top spot, including our pre-season tip – the Brooklyn Nets.

The Nets are currently second in the Eastern Conference with a 24-13 record, including an impressive 11 wins on the road. Steve Nash’s men were 6/1 to win the NBA Finals in pre-season and are now 29/10 to be crowned champions this year.

One team in their division to keep an eye out for though is Boston Celtics – who happen to be the Nets’ next opponents on Friday.

The Celtics have won their last four matches, including a 132-125 win over Toronto prior to the All Star Game. Jayson Tatum top scored against the Raptors and he has 72 points across the last three games.

Boston, who reached the Eastern Conference Finals last term, are now 9/1 to win the East and 28/1 to lift the trophy in June.

Milwaukee Bucks are another team hot on the heels of the 76ers, sitting third in the East with a 22-14 record.

Giannis, who is 17/1 to be the regular season MVP, has found his form in recent weeks, with the ‘Greek Freak’ scoring 35+ points in four of the Bucks’ last six games.

Suns Shining in the West

In the Western Conference, Utah Jazz top the standings with a 27-9 record although they return to action this week having lost their last two matches.

Jazz, who are 7/2 to top the West, have won 15 of their 17 games at the Vivint Arena, but they do face tough tests against Golden State, Celtics and Nets later in the month.

Despite sitting third at present, Los Angeles Lakers are still the 57/20 favourites to retain the NBA title and 6/4 to be top dogs in the West.

They have what looks like a good schedule over the next couple of weeks and with Anthony Davis expected back soon, after calf and knee problems, they could now pick up the pace.

The team in form though are the Phoenix Suns, who go into Friday’s game with Portland on a four-game winning streak, which includes a 104-114 win over the Lakers.

The Suns success has been a real team effort but one player would could be the key to any success this term is Devin Booker. The shooting guard scored 43 points in the recent win over Minnesota and is 80/1 to be named as the regular season MVP.

Dallas Can Beat Western Rivals Spurs

There are just the two NBA matches on Thursday’s return to action, with the standout game coming at the American Airlines Center.

The Dallas Mavericks play host to San Antonio Spurs, having won their last three matches and with a firm focus on making the play-offs.

The Mavericks are just one place below the Spurs in the standings and are 4/7 to win Thursday’s clash, with San Antonio available at 6/4.

*All odds correct at time of writing.

Warren has been employed as a sport journalist for over two decades and as well as years of written experience, has also worked in other areas of the media including radio and television. Football has always been his number one passion, but has also commentated and written on a number of other sports including golf, cricket, tennis and rugby.

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