NBA Games of the Week 01/08-01/14
Oct. 19, 2017 - Source: Getty Images North America
We are pretty much at the halfway point of the season with the majority of teams having played 38-40 games in the season and there have been some interesting developments. Injuries have hit some teams hard recently and will play a pivotal role in playoff seeding. The once dominant Rockets have gone 3-7 in their last 10 after suffering a multitude of injuries, including to MVP candidate James Harden. The Clippers had put together some good basketball after Blake Griffin’s return, but Saturday night Griffin took a scary elbow shot to the head and could be out for some time. The Celtics and Raptors stand atop the East while the Warriors have maintained their lead in the West after the Rockets recent struggles. Let’s get to the games.
Monday January 8th
Cleveland Cavaliers at Minnesota Timberwolves (8PM EST)
The Cavaliers have maintained their winning ways, but have lost some games recently. They welcomed Isaiah Thomas back to the team and he has looked good in two games. He is still on a minutes restriction and it will be interesting to see how he progresses moving forward and how they implement into their rotation. The Cavaliers are still in the three spot in the East at 26-13. They have yet to play the Timberwolves this season, but they are a good matchup for the Cavs. Jimmy Butler is about as good of a matchup as there is for Lebron James and the Timberwolves. The Wolves have continued to hold onto the number four spot in the West at 25-16. Karl-Anthony Towns has been on a tear recently and he presents some matchup problems for the Cavaliers.
Tuesday January 9th
Miami Heat at Toronto Raptors (7:30PM EST)
The Heat have played well lately and are 7-3 in their last 10. They are currently 21-17, good enough to be tied for the 5th spot with the Bucks. Hassan Whiteside has recently return and he is still playing limited minutes. The good news for the Heat is that Kelly Olynyk has played great in Whiteside’s absence and has looked to be a very capable scorer at times this season. The Heat are a competent basketball team although they are still trying to find consistency. The Raptors have been very consistent this season and continue to shine in the regular season. They are 27-10 and 8-2 in their last 10 games. DeMar DeRozan has continued to shine this season and has maintained his good three point shooting at 36.8%. However, they have not played the toughest schedule up to this point and in their next 9 games, 7 are against teams with .500 records or better. This is one of those games.
Wednesday January 10th
Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets (8PM EST)
The Porland Trail Blazers continue to tread water in the West, they are 5-5 in their last 10 and it would not shock me if they went .500 for the rest of the season. They are currently 20-18 and look good enough to make the playoffs, but I am unsure if they can do anything once they get there. Jusuf Nurkic is such an interesting player for the team and it is hard to predict what he will give from game to game. If they can get consistent play from him that would make things easier for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. This is an opportunity for the Blazers to take advantage of a hurting Rockets team. The Rockets have struggled without Harden. They have not really been healthy for a large stretch of the season and if they hope to do something in the post-season they will need to make sure that their team is rested and ready. Gerald Green has been huge for them since joining the team. He has provided much needed offense in Harden’s absence including a 27 and 29 point game under his belt out of six games. He is also shooting over 50% from three. Winning as many games as they can in Harden’s absence makes this a big game.
Thursday January 11th
Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers (3PM EST) in London, England
This game will take place in London and it should be a fun one between two teams playing good basketball. The Celtics have been arguably one of the best teams in the league despite losing their huge free agent signing within minutes of their first game. Jayson Tatum looks like a future superstar and Kyrie Irving and Al Horford have had great seasons. The Celtics are 7-3 in their last 10 games and at the moment they have played the most games in the league. They are 33-10 after playing more than half of their games. The 76ers have bounced back after a really tough stretch where they went on a bit of a losing streak. They have gone 5-1 after their five game losing streak and find themselves at 19-19 on the season. They have still struggled without Joel Embiid and after having him play 29 of the teams 38 games, the 76ers have to be happy and hope that they can get at least 60 this season. Ben Simmons has been on a great scoring run in the last three games and he looks more and more comfortable on the court. The 76ers are 0-2 against Boston this season.
Friday January 12th
Golden State Warriors at Milwaukee Bucks (8PM EST)
The Warriors have continued to dominate the league despite looking disinterested at times. Stephen Curry has been a human flamethrower since returning from injury. He scored 45 points in under 30 minutes against the Clippers. His low scoring game in his last 4 is 29 points and during that time the Warriors are 4-0 with three wins by 10 points or more. There just does not seem to be a way to beat this team when they are into it. The Bucks on the other hand seem to have put together a good string of basketball and are winning more than losing. They are 6-4 in their last 10 games. They had a big win over the Wizards on Saturday night and they are going to need more of those wins to move up in the standings. They are currently tied for 5th in the East. Giannis has continued to be great and in his last three games, he has scored 89 points shooting 33 of 49 from the field. It is just unfair. With him on the roster, the feeling is that this team should be better.
Saturday January 13th
Denver Nuggets at San Antonio Spurs (8:30PM EST)
The Nuggets are 5-5 in their last 10 and have maintained a hold on the number 6 spot in the West. Jamal Murray has been more consistent in scoring the ball and is starting to shoot the ball from three at a good percentage. He is up to 36.5% on the season. He has scored over 20 points in four of the last six games, including a 31 point effort against the 76ers. The Spurs have continued to win and are still at the three spot in the West with a record of 27-13. They have continued to be cautious with Kawhi Leonard and he has played in only 8 of the 13 games for the team since his return from injury. He has started to look more like Kawhi scoring over 20 points in his last two games. The Spurs offense relied on him a great deal last year and there is work to be done to make sure that they keep LaMarcus Aldridge comfortable in the offense. This game will be a quick home game for the Spurs in the middle of a 6 game road trip.
Sunday January 14th
Indiana Pacers at Phoenix Suns (8PM EST)
The Pacers went on a little bit of a losing streak of 5 games. Four of those games they were without Victor Oladipo and in his 1st game back on Saturday, they absolutely obliterate the Bulls. In the 5 games that he has missed this season, the team is 0-5. Oladipo played well in his return with 23 points. The Pacers have a hold on the 8th seed in the East, but their lead over the 76ers is only half a game. They are only 2.5 games back of the fourth seeded Wizards. The Suns have their own great guard in Devin Booker, who has been great since returning from injury. The Suns have won 6 of their last 11 games and although they are 15-26, they at times look like a good young team. This should be a great matchup between Oladipo and Booker.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com