NBA Games of the Week 12/25-12/31
Merry Christmas! We have reached the point in the season where it’s a great time to assess what we have seen so far. Christmas seems to be the date that the NBA really gets into full swing with games becoming more and more meaningful. Heading into Christmas there are some interesting developments. The 76ers have fallen off of a cliff. They have lost 5 in a row and Embiid has had to miss some games with back issues. The Heat and Knicks have overtaken them in the standings and it looks like the East playoff race will be a good one. Out West, the Warriors and Rockets continue to sit atop the standings, but the Rockets are enduring a two game losing streak and the Warriors just dropped a game to the Nuggets. The Thunder seem to have found their way with a good four game winning streak. Let’s get to the games.
Monday December 25th
Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder (8PM EST)
Of all the Christmas Day games, this one feels the most important. As mentioned above, the Rockets are on a two game losing streak and seem a little on edge. James Harden has scored over 50 points in both games, but had some issues with the referees. Chris Paul and Clint Capela may be out for the Rockets and a big win in Oklahoma would be huge for the Rockets. On the other side, the Thunder have put together a good run winning four in a row. It would be great if they could get it to five. Westbrook has been on an absolute tear during their win streak, averaging 29 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists. The most impressive stat during the win streak has been his field goal percentage. He has made 49 of his 82 shots and only 8 of those shots have been from three. When Westbrook shoots like that, the Thunder will not be easy to beat.
Tuesday December 26th
Indiana Pacers at Detroit Pistons (7PM EST)
The Pacers are one game up on the Pistons in the win column making this game feel a little more important. The Pacers have continued their strong start and after 33 games, they are 19-14 with a fun team to watch. Victor Oladipo has continued to make a strong case for All-Star consideration with his latest huge game. The Pacers were able to hold off the Brooklyn Nets in overtime thanks to Oladipo’s 38 point night including 10 points in the 4th quarter and another 6 in overtime. The Pistons have righted the ship after enduring that tough losing streak winning four of their last five. At 18-14, they are back on track. They have won 2 of their 3 games with the Pacers so far this season and winning this one would solidify their head to head advantage if that comes into play for playoff seeding.
Wednesday December 27th
Toronto Raptors at Oklahoma City Thunder (8PM EST)
The Raptors have won 6 games in a row and have taken over the number 2 spot in the East. They are quietly having a great season and once again are generating buzz that this could be the year for them to get over the hump. They have played one of the easiest schedules thus far, but they are a good team. During their 6 game winning streak, they have won four games by double figures and this will be a good test for them on the road. This will be the Thunder’s first game against the Raptors this season. Paul George averaged 27 points per game against the Raptors last season while Carmelo Anthony put up 24 points. They have had individual success against the Raptors, but last season their teams went a combined 1-5 in the games they played against the Raptors.
Thursday December 28th
Houston Rockets at Boston Celtics (8PM EST)
This will be the first meeting of the season between these two teams and it is exciting to see a matchup of a great offense and a great defense. Hopefully, this game will include key members of the Rockets that are currently injured. The Rockets will come into this game with two days of rest after their Christmas Day game. However, the Celtics will play in Charlotte the night before making this a back to back for them. The Celtics have cooled down since their huge winning streak going 5-5 over their last 10 games. They lost two games in a row to the Knicks and Heat that had some wondering what was going on with the Celtics. Offensively, they have struggled and it has been the brilliance of Kyrie Irving that has kept them afloat. This should be a great game.
Friday December 29th
Brooklyn Nets at Miami Heat (8PM EST)
The Nets have struggled recently, but they are a fun team to watch and have played in some great games this season. They are still missing key players and it has hurt them this season. The Nets are shooting more three pointers and it has kept them in some games, but they have also managed to shoot themselves out of games. In the last 7 games, they have shot over 40 three point shots 4 times. The Heat have really been good recently despite missing Hassan Whiteside, who might be back by the time of this game. They have won 6 of their last 9 games and they are doing it by committee. Josh Richardson has played quite well for the Heat recently and he is a player to watch for the Heat.
Saturday December 30th
New York Knicks at New Orleans Pelicans (7PM EST)
The battle of the unicorns in New Orleans. Kristaps Porzingis has had a great season for a surprising Knicks team that has played well lately. They have won 6 of their last 9 and during that stretch they have enjoyed some great play from Michael Beasley. He is one of the ultimate heat check players as evidenced by his three game stretch scoring 85 points including two 30 point games. The Pelicans have some big scorers of their own with DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis that have helped them get to 17-16. They have not been able to put together long stretches of great basketball and their longest winning streak of the season is 3. Both of these teams struggle with inconsistency so this should be a very interesting game.
Sunday December 31st
Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards (3:30PM EST)
The Chicago Bulls have been a fun team to watch recently. They enjoyed a great winning streak after such a terrible start. They are currently 10-22, but are 7-3 in their last 10. They were blown out on Saturday by the Celtics and this could be the unraveling of the Bulls. This week they will play the Bucks, Knicks, and Pacers coming into their Sunday showdown with the Wizards. It could be a tough week for the Bulls. All three of those teams have playoff aspirations and need wins. I am interested to see how the Bulls fare and if they can compete against a Wizards team that has been solid as of late. They are 6-4 in their last 10 and seem to be fighting for some consistency. This could be a tough matchup for the Wizards. It feels that this team should be much better with the talent of John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Otto Porter. If the Wizards hope to make a run at a top four seed, they really need to start winning games against inferior teams. On Friday, they were blown out by the Nets and followed it up with a 27 point win over the Magic. They are a tough team to figure out. If they are not ready to play, this Chicago team will eat them up.