Warriors looking for Christmas statement

There are some big battles in the NBA over the Christmas period and defending champions Golden State Warriors face a stern test against two key Conference rivals.

Golden State can cut down LA pair (December 24th, 1:30am)

The Warriors have endured a tough start to the season by their standards and have some work to do to catch current Western Conference pacesetters Denver Nuggets.

Golden State entertain the Clippers, before hosting the Lakers on Christmas Day (December 26th, 01:00am) and will be looking to reinforce their Championship credentials with back-to-back wins over the two Los Angeles franchises.

GSW have been solid at home but not unbeatable, having lost to Milwaukee Bucks, Oklahoma City Thunder and Toronto Raptors, but they should be able to see off both LA teams.

Both the Clippers and the Lakers have losing overall records on the road and this looks a good chance for the Warriors to lay down markers against two teams with legitimate aspirations of going far in the play-offs this season.

Golden State remain the favourites to win the Championship outright at 1.57, the Clippers are 41.00 to win the Western Conference and the Lakers are 13.00 in the same market.

Grizzlies walking in to Lakers trap (December 24th, 2:30am)

Before their trip to the Oracle Arena, the Lakers host an out-of-sorts Memphis side and they can continue their solid home form with a win over the Grizzlies.

The arrival of LeBron James has made the Lakers look almost certain to book a play-off spot and their home form has been excellent. After losing their first two games at the Staples Center, the Lakers have lost just twice since in LA and will be confident of seeing off Memphis.

The Grizzlies have dropped away in their own battle for a post-season spot and on their travels they have struggled and head to LA with a losing record overall – despite going 5-3 on the road in November.

James managed 20 points when the Lakers ran riot in Memphis earlier this month, winning by 23 points in a one-sided affair, and it could be a similar story when the two meet again in LA.

Rockets on top in Christmas cracker (December 25th, 8:00pm)

Houston Rockets showdown with Oklahoma on Christmas Day could be an incredibly competitive clash between two teams who have Championship goals.

The Rockets took GSW to seven games in the Western Conference Finals last year, but endured a terrible start to the current campaign.

Houston appear to have got their mojo back now, particularly at home, and will be looking to make a statement against high fliers OKC.

The Thunder have picked up some big results on the road – including a demolition of the Warriors when Steph Curry was injured – but have also suffered some surprise defeats, most notably at a woeful Chicago Bulls outfit.

The Rockets may not have found their best form just yet, but at the Toyota Center they have been firing on all cylinders and can claim a big win over a key rival.

Houston are 13.00 to win the Championship and OKC are 26.00.

Boston face Philly in heavyweight East meeting (December 25th, 10:30pm)

When the fixtures were announced, there may have been a few pundits expecting this Christmas Day meeting between Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers to be a top-two showdown in the Eastern Conference.

Boston were expected to blitz the Conference after LeBron James departed the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Lakers, but it hasn’t worked out like that.

Instead, the Raptors lead the way and are closely followed by Milwaukee, while Indiana Pacers aren’t out of the equation either and both the Celtics and Sixers have some work to do.

Boston are proving to be a frustrating side, as they will appear to find some form then slip to surprise losses. The Celtics saw an eight-game winning streak ended by Detroit Pistons and followed that up with a home defeat to a Phoenix Suns team who must have already given up on any hopes of post-season involvement.

The Celtics can claim a much-needed win over a key rival in this match-up however, as the Sixers are perhaps overly reliant on Joel Embiid and have a losing record on the road.

Boston beat Philly by 18 points back in October. The margin of victory may not be so big this time around, but they should be able to claim a victory in front of their own fans at TD Gardens in this big Eastern Conference battle.

Boston are 3.25 to win the Eastern Conference, Toronto are 2.75, the Bucks can be backed at 6.50 and the Sixers are 4.50.