NBA Games of the Week 01/01-01/07
Oct. 16, 2017 - Source: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America
2017 has come to an end and it came to a strange end. Some of the top teams have gone through a tough stretch. The Celtics, Cavaliers, and Spurs are 6-4 in their last 10 games. The Rockets are 5-5 in their last 10 and are dealing with a number of injuries. The Raptors even went on a two game losing streak after emerging as the number one seed in the East. The Warriors have continued to coast, although Draymond Green has been ejected twice recently and Stephen Curry made his return from injury. You can consider the 1st part of the season over and there are some exciting events upcoming including the trading deadline and the All-Star game. Let’s get to the games.
Monday January 1st
Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors (7:30PM EST)
The Bucks and Raptors are two Eastern Conference playoff teams at the moment. The Raptors were the number one seed in the East for a couple of days, but they quickly lost two in a row to tie with the Celtics. They are coming off of a win against the Hawks that ended with Dwayne Casey yelling obscenities at Mike Budenholzer. They are currently 24-10 and have managed to compile that record without great play from Kyle Lowry, who has struggled somewhat this season. The Bucks have played better lately and are on a two game winning streak. They are currently 19-15. The trio of Giannis, Khris Middleton, and Eric Bledsoe is formidable and Middleton has been on a tear recently.
Tuesday January 2nd
San Antonio Spurs at New York Knicks (7:30PM EST)
The Spurs are struggling recently, although struggling for them is 6-4. They defeated the Knicks last week in San Antonio without Kawhi Leonard, but the Knicks are a different team at home. They are 15-6 at home and the New York crowd has energized them and helped their play this year. The Spurs were defeated soundly by the Pistons in their most recent game and it appears that they are going to be without Rudy Gay for at least two weeks. The Knicks have lost four of their last six and find themselves one game out of the playoff race. They are still waiting for the return of Tim Hardaway Jr. and they have to start playing better on the road if they hope to be in the playoffs.
Wednesday January 3rd
Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics (8PM EST)
The Cavaliers have lost three in a row and if the start to their season was any indication, there is no reason to panic. They were also on a road trip. They have played the Celtics once already in Cleveland and the story for the Cavaliers now is the return of Isaiah Thomas. This could very well be the game that Thomas makes his return. He meant so much to Boston last season and it would be a great story for him to make his return. Thomas has some feelings about management, but the Cavaliers are going to need him if they hope to make the Finals and the Celtics could be the team that stands in their way. The Celtics have played well recently and despite losing a few games have maintained a good pace. They played a great deal of games in December and in January that number will decrease dramatically. After 17 games in December, the Celtics have just 12 in January.
Thursday January 4th
Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets (8PM EST)
The Rockets have really struggled with injuries lately and that has led to an increase in losses for a team that looked invincible a few weeks ago. Fortunately for Houston, there have not been any severe injuries, but injuries that they need to be careful with. Clint Capela, Nene, Luc Mbah a Moute, and Chris Paul have missed time recently. The Rockets went out and signed Gerald Green to help deal with some of the injuries. Houston is a team that needs to be at full strength for the playoffs to be able to deal with the great teams in the West like the Warriors. This is the first of their two meetings with the Warriors in the month of January after beating the Warriors on opening night. Whether the Rockets are at full strength or not, it is likely that both teams will not be shy to rest players that need it for this game. The Warriors are on autopilot and do not seem to worry about much. They lose a random game at home to Charlotte and follow that up with a complete destruction of the Memphis Grizzlies. They are a tough team to gauge from night to night, but when they are engaged they are hard to beat.
Friday January 5th
Detroit Pistons at Philadelphia 76ers (7PM EST)
The Pistons are back in the four seed spot in the East after getting back on track recently, but they are still wildly inconsistent from night to night. They lost to the Magic by 13 points and then dominate the Spurs at home. They are also dealing with the injury to Reggie Jackson that will keep him out for some time. This is a huge stretch for the Pistons and how they fare without Jackson could determine whether or not they are able to maintain a top four seed in the East. Meanwhile, the 76ers have gone 3-7 in their last 10 games and they got a much needed win in Denver on Saturday night. It was a big win because they managed to do it without Joel Embiid. It appears that Embiid is going to need some games off from time to time and if they cannot win without him they are going to have a difficult time making the playoffs. They are going to need more from Ben Simmons, who has scored in single digits in two of their last three games.
Saturday January 6th
New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves (9PM EST)
These are two of the most difficult teams in the league to figure out. They have both been great at times, but they are not good enough defensively to win consistently. The Pelicans have been on a bit of a skid lately with two losses to the Mavericks and Knicks at home. They have also lost two home games to the Timberwolves although they have another game in Minnesota after this one. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins continue to dominate, but their team is just not good enough to help them. The Timberwolves have fared better and are 7-3 in their last 10 games. They are going to be without Jeff Teague for the next couple of weeks and they are going to need more from Tyus Jones. Jimmy Butler has also been on a tear recently going over 30 points in three of their last 6 games. With Butler playing at this level the Wolves should continue to be in that four spot behind the Warriors, Rockets, and Spurs.
Sunday January 7th
Atlanta Hawks at Los Angeles Lakers (9:30PM EST)
A game between two of the worst teams in the league is on this list because it is good to look at the future of the NBA and these two teams have some nice young talent that is getting a chance to shine. Taurean Prince for the Hawks has been great this season and he is starting to show that he can score the ball coming off of a career high 30 points in loss to the Raptors. John Collins is another player from the Hawks to watch. He has scored over 10 points in four of their last five games. The Lakers have some nice young pieces and it is good to keep an eye on the Julius Randle drama. He has earned the minutes with his play and he is still not getting too many chances. I would say that he is a candidate to get traded if there is a team willing to give something up for him or just wait until free agency. Lonzo Ball has been injured, but should be back in time for this one. Kyle Kuzma is a good young player to watch despite some recent struggles including going 4 for 24 in their loss to the Grizzlies. He must’ve done that in honor of Kobe Bryant, just like old times.
Enjoy the games and Happy New Year!