NBA Games of the Week 11/6-11/12
The NBA season has been quite strange since it started. As I write this on Sunday morning, the Celtics, Pistons, and Magic sit atop the Eastern Conference Standings, with the Cavaliers and Wizards both struggling as of late. In the Western Conference, the status quo has been preserved with the Rockets and Warriors up top. However, the Timberwolves and Grizzlies have surprised up to this point, while the Thunder have struggled to have their superstars gel together. Let’s get to the games of the week.
Monday November 6th
Boston Celtics at Atlanta Hawks (7:30 p.m EST)
Monday is a slow day for the NBA with only three games. In an effort to make sure that everyone is picked at least once, I went with the Hawks. The Hawks have been bad this season, as many thought they might be. They play a lot of young guys, but Taurean Prince and John Collins have looked pretty good thus far this season. Dennis Schroder has also become their leading scorer at just over 21 points per game. Hawks fans should be excited for these three moving forward. The Celtics have been one of, if not the best team in basketball. They have won seven in a row heading into Sunday and they seemed to have integrated all of their new pieces with ease. They are coming off of a great win on Friday against the Thunder. Kyrie Irving has looked great and continues to make little comments about his former team.
Tuesday November 7th
Milwaukee Bucks at Cleveland Cavaliers (7:00 p.m EST)
If the playoffs started today, the Bucks and Cavaliers would both be out of the playoffs. Both teams stand at 4-5 and have struggled this season. The Cavaliers needed a superhuman effort from Lebron James to beat the Wizards. Could that be the game that turns the Cavaliers around? It’s tough to say. While the Cavaliers have struggled, Milwaukee has lost three games in a row and four of their last five. Giannis has continued to be incredible, but it has not translated to wins. These teams have already faced off against each other and the Cavaliers dominated the Bucks, winning by 19 on October 20th. So much has changed since then and both of these teams have struggled. Milwaukee has lost to good teams including the Celtics, Hornets, Pistons, and Thunder. If they are going to be one of the East’s elite teams, they are going to need to win games against better teams and although their play might not show it, the road to the Finals still goes through Cleveland.
Wednesday November 8th
Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors (10:30 p.m EST)
The Timberwolves have played well lately and this is their first regular season game against the Warriors. The Warriors have run off a three game winning streak that included beating the Clippers by 28, the Spurs by 20, and the Nuggets by 19. They have been on a tear and the Timberwolves have also played well lately and seems to have reversed their struggles in the clutch with some big wins in close games so far this season. The Timberwolves do not have a great deal of big wins this season, but they have looked good offensively, ranking 8th in offensive rating according to Basketball Reference. Jimmy Butler has played well and Andrew Wiggins has looked good fitting on the wing with Butler. Karl-Anthony Towns has also been good this season, but it seems that more negative attention is coming his way lately due to his defensive struggles. The Timberwolves will make the Warriors defend, but the Warriors seem to have overcome their early season stink and look ready to set the league on fire. Although they have not been great defensively, they are still rated number one in offensive rating in the league and their defensive rating has improved over the last few games. The Timberwolves are hoping to be contenders this season and this is the team that they will have to beat if they have championship aspirations.
Thursday November 9th
Los Angeles Lakers at Washington Wizards (7:00 p.m EST)
The Wizards had high hopes coming into this season, but they have struggled mightily and have lost games against bad teams. They have lost four of their last five including losses to the Suns, the reeling Cavaliers, a close game to the Warriors, and an overtime game to these Lakers. That game was marred by John Wall’s terrible shot at the end of regulation. The Wizards have really struggled thus far this season and it is not a good omen for their season. The injury to Gordon Hayward and the Cavaliers terrible start seemed to be opportunities for the Wizards to assert their dominance in the East, but they sit at just 4-4 heading into Sunday. They need to win this game and win it convincingly. The Lakers are not a good team. They are 4-5 on the season, but they won close games against the Suns and Wizards, caught the Pistons in a trap game and took care of the Nets on their home court. They could easily be 2-7 or 3-6. Despite them being crappy, they still get national TV games almost every week, which makes no sense. They have some good young players in Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram. Those three have been involved in the Lakers successes thus far in the season. Unfortunately for the Lakers, they will be without Larry Nance Jr. for the next month and a half after he broke a bone in his hand. They will need Julius Randle to step up for them if they plan on winning some of these east coast games.
Friday November 10th
Los Angeles Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder (9:00 p.m EST)
The Clippers had a tough week with losses to the Pistons, Warriors, and Grizzlies in the span of a week. Once sitting at 4-0, the Clippers are now 5-3. This game will be a good test for them against a Thunder team that is still trying to figure things out. The Thunder have really struggled so far this season, sitting at 4-4. Blake Griffin has been great to start the season, but the Clippers need some of their other players to help on the offensive end. Danillo Gallinari is a player that could do more for the Clippers. He has struggled shooting this season, shooting only 27% from three. It also seems that the Clippers could benefit from allowing some of their young guys like Sam Dekker and Montrezl Harrell get more minutes. Both were rotation guys for Houston last year. Meanwhile the Thunder seem to be a team that does not know what it should be doing. They lost a tough game to the Celtics on Friday that they dominated in the first half. The Thunder could be a defensive juggernaut and they may be by the end of the season. Their three stars have struggled to fit together, but they are showing signs of putting it together. A bright spot for the Thunder has been Jerami Grant’s amazing start to the season. He has played well as the 6th man for the team and looks to be an important piece for the team this season. The guy is also nasty under the hoop. Really nasty. This will be a good test for both teams. Coming into this game, the Thunder will play on the road against the Trail Blazers, Kings, and Nuggets. The Trail Blazers and Nuggets are two teams that hope to be in the playoff mix. The Clippers will play the Heat at home and the Spurs on the road. Both teams have slumped somewhat and every game in going to be needed in the West, this should be a good one.
Saturday November 11th
Memphis Grizzlies at Houston Rockets (8:00 p.m EST)
This is the third meeting between these teams. The Grizzlies have won both matchups thus far. The first contest was a good game that saw the Grizzlies outlast the Rockets 98-90. The 2nd contest was not a great game. The Rockets were without Eric Gordon and coming off of a game against the Hornets the night before. This time, Houston will have an off day before playing the Grizzlies. The Rockets appear to be healthy now, but have not seen the return of Chris Paul since his 33 minutes against the Warriors. The Rockets are being smart about his injury and are not going to rush him back. The Rockets struggled to shoot from deep at the start of the season and now have started to shoot it a little better from deep. The Grizzlies have continued their hot start, but have regressed in losing home games to the Hornets and Magic. The Grizzlies have to be happy with their 6-3 start. They have played 6 home games thus far and the Rockets game will be their 4th in a row on the road. The Grizzlies have continued to win behind their stellar bench play and they will need them if they are going to continue their good start. The Grizzlies really play the Rockets well and this game has meaning because although the Grizzlies might regress, it would be a nightmare for the Rockets to be matched up with the Grizzlies in the playoffs knowing that the Grizzlies have owned them during the season.
Sunday November 12th
Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics (3:30 p.m EST)
The Raptors are once again flying under the radar. In all of the talk about the Cavaliers’ struggles and the Celtics’ dominance, the Raptors find themselves top 10 in offensive and defensive rating with some good wins and tough losses on their schedule. They stand at 5-3 and have become boring because of their lack of roster turnover. Make no mistake though, the Raptors will be heard from in the postseason. They play the Wizards on Sunday, which should be a good test for them. DeMar Derozan has looked great to start the season and Serge Ibaka has really shot well from deep. Kyle Lowry has started slowly, but he is putting up decent numbers. The interesting development for the Raptors has been the play of rookie OG Anunoby. Anunoby was drafted 23rd overall out of Indiana and slid to that number due to concerns after tearing his ACL during his last season in college. Anunoby is a big wing, standing at 6’8 with a 7’2 wingspan according to Draft Express. He could make a huge impact for the Raptors before this season is over. This game against the Celtics will be a good test for the Raptors against the East’s elite team right now. They had great success against the Celtics last year, winning 3 of the 4 games, but this year’s Celtics team presents some problems for the Raptors. Kyrie Irving played quite well against the Raptors last year, averaging almost 25 points per game in three regular season contests and over 22 per game in the playoffs. Irving went undefeated against the Raptors last year and he has looked even better for the Celtics.