While the start of the 2020-21 NBA campaign was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, it has not taken long for the action to hot up. Each of the 30 teams across the Eastern and Western Conferences have lost at least two of their opening eight matches, suggesting that the season could be one of the most competitive for some time. With the games continuing to come thick and fast, there is scope for the lead to change hands on multiple occasions, but will the NBA fixtures on January 10 result in a different team sitting at the top of the standings?
When punters bet on basketball this weekend, they will naturally be interested in fixtures involving the top teams, such as the one involving the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets. Having won the Western Conference and NBA playoffs last season, the Lakers would have expected better than a 6-3 record from their opening nine matches, and their latest defeat to San Antonio Spurs was an unexpected one. The Lakers remain as favourites to get the better of the Rockets on Sunday, but their upcoming opponents deserve to be respected. Both of their victories this season have been against mid-table Sacramento Kings, highlighting that they are performing better than their current lowly position, which is partly down to having games in hand, suggests. Backing the underdogs to prevail by a five-point margin or less may be the way to go in this match.
Having finished as runners-up in 2018-19, Golden States Warriors endured a dismal time of it last season, finishing at the bottom of the Western Conference. However, there have been signs that the champions of 2017 and 2018 will be more competitive throughout this campaign after winning half of their opening eight matches. Thursday's 108-101 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers prevented them from moving into the top three, but scoring 137 points in each of their previous two games suggests that they will be a threat to anyone this season. The Toronto Raptors, who have struggled during the opening weeks, are their opponents on Sunday and we feel that there is an opportunity for punters to back a Warriors victory by a wide margin. In excess of 10 points will prove popular given the betting odds which are available, but we would err on the side of caution and opt for anything over a six-point win.
On the back of three successive wins, Boston Celtics will be hoping to take advantage of their fixture with Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference. The two teams locked horns as recently as Thursday with the Celtics edging out their opponents 107-105, a triumph which saw them withstand a stirring third-quarter comeback. As of Friday, the Celtics are one of a trio of teams who possess a winning streak of three matches, and there is every chance that the manner of their latest success will have deflated the Heat to a certain degree. However, we cannot ignore that Miami have not suffered two successive defeats this season, and we feel inclined to back the outsiders to emerge victorious by one to five points.