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Rockets vs Lakers and Spurs vs Raptors Game Previews and Betting Odds

Now that the NBA All-Star spectacle is behind us, the race for playoff positioning is on. This week has some huge games in store for fans; on Thursday the 21st, LeBron James and the LA Lakers will host James Harden and the Houston Rockets. Currently, the Rockets sit in 5th place in the West while the Lakers are behind them hanging on to the 10th spot after a rough spell in which they have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games before the All-Star break.

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Later, on Friday the 22nd, the San Antonio Spurs head to Toronto to take on the Raptors. The Spurs currently are holding on to the 7th place spot in the jam-packed West. Only 2 wins separate the fourth place Portland Trail Blazers and the 8th place LA Clippers, so winning this game will give the Spurs a little wiggle room in the playoff race.

Rockets at Lakers

Lebron James has appeared in the playoffs for the last 14 consecutive years, but if the 2018-19 Lakers don’t get things figured out quickly, that streak may end. The Lakers have a tough schedule down the road as well, with four of the next five games against teams that rank in the top ten in offense. The Lakers have been awful defensively as of late, ranking 29th among all NBA teams over the last month in points allowed per 100 possessions.

Their opponent on Thursday is a deep Houston Rocket team that has been 15-8 this season when healthy. Bench minutes are a huge component to Houston’s success, and with Clint Capela coming back into the lineup after injury, the Rockets are all set up to start their late season push into the playoffs.

Also, the Lakers have yet to beat the Rockets this season. The two teams have met 3 times already and the Rockets have won all three contests. All three of those games have been close, however; the Rockets have only beaten the Lakers this year by a combined margin of 28 points, with the last game being a 134-138 overtime battle back on January 19th. In other words, the Lakers may be due for a win on Thursday.

Spurs at Raptors

Like LeBron, the Spurs have not missed the playoffs in a long time. To get an idea of just how long, you have to go back to the last century, before they drafted Tim Duncan in 1997. That playoff streak is also at risk this season with the Spurs sitting in the 7th spot in the Western Conference. The LA Clippers and Sacramento Kings are knocking at their doorstep with only two wins separating the three teams. To make matters worse, the Spurs will have to play most of the rest of their games this season in the Eastern Conference so that they won’t be able to steal any points away from their western rivals. Friday’s game will be a huge test as to whether or not this Spurs team is up to the task, as the Raptors currently sit in the 2nd seed in the east. The Raptors went into the break on a six-game winning streak thanks to efforts from newly acquired Jeremy Lin, who was a plus-10 off the bench in his first game against Washington.

On the bright side, the Spurs have held an edge in their matchups against the Raptors in the last 3 seasons, having won the previous matchup this season 107-125 as well as winning three out of the last four games dating back to 2017.