NBA Games of the Week 01/22-01/28
Monday January 22nd
Miami Heat at Houston Rockets (8PM EST)
This will be the first meeting between these two teams and it comes in the midst of great basketball from both sides. The Heat are 8-2 in their last 10 games and aside from a letdown in Brooklyn on Friday night, they have maintained their great play and are getting wins. They are only a half game behind Cleveland for the three spot in the East. They are dealing with some injuries to Goran Dragic and Tyler Johnson and both players are uncertain for this game in Houston. They have done it by committee and you never know which Miami player is going to have a big game for them. With so many talented perimeter defenders and Whiteside down low, the Heat are a formidable defensive team with the 10th best defensive rating in the league.
On the other hand, the Rockets are coming off of a huge win against the Golden State Warriors that oozed with playoff intensity. They have to feel good about getting that win without Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green, who were serving their suspension from the Clippers fallout. This game reeks of a let down game for the Rockets and if they are not ready to play, Miami can blow them out. Chris Paul has been outstanding and the Rockets have not lost when they are healthy this season. This should be a fun game.
Tuesday January 23rd
Cleveland Cavaliers at San Antonio Spurs (8PM EST)
This is the first meeting of these teams. The Cavaliers are 3-7 in their last 10 and they did not have a good week. The Thunder came into Cleveland on Saturday and put the boots to the Cavaliers in a game that could cost Tyronn Lue his job. Whether or not Lue gets fired, the Cavaliers are struggling and they look eerily reminiscent of the 2012 Lakers. They look old and it doesn’t look like they can guard anybody. They are floating almost every player on the roster in trade rumors, which is the best medicine to help your team stay together. It will be interesting to see what moves they can make, if any. If they suffer through another tough week, it is difficult to see them keeping Lue around as the coach.
The Spurs are 5-5 in their last 10 and have dealt with injuries about as well as can be expected. They just shut down Kawhi Leonard for an unspecified amount of time and their lead on the Timberwolves seems to get smaller each week. This week, the lead is at just half a game. The Spurs are not going to panic and they understand that they are thinking about the playoffs and a healthy Kawhi Leonard makes them dangerous in any matchup. Offensively, the Spurs have Aldridge, but they play their game and coming into a game against a team that does not play defense is a recipe for a Spurs blowout.
Wednesday January 24th
Chicago Bulls at Philadelphia 76ers (7PM EST)
This is the second meeting of the season between these two teams. The Bulls took the first game in Chicago by two points. They seem to play great games against everybody. Games against the Warriors and the Rockets were respectable and they have been able to keep a good pace after their horrible start to the season. They are actually a fun team to watch, which makes this game against the always entertaining 76ers a must watch. Lauri Markkanen continues to play well and is looking like he might’ve been a steal at number seven in the draft. The Bulls young players have played so well that it has people rethinking the Jimmy Butler trade and how bad it may have been. Unfortunately, Kris Dunn’s great play has been interrupted after falling on his face, but he might make it for this game. More intriguing is Zach LaVine. Playing in just four games, he seems to be making his way back slowly and is still on a minutes restriction. It will be interesting to see where he is when it comes time to travel to Philly.
The 76ers have had some great news as they have their first All-Star starter since Allen Iverson in Joel Embiid. In addition, they are in the thick of the playoff race and find themselves currently at the 6th seed in the East after a nice three game winning streak that included wins over three of the East’s better teams in Toronto, Boston, and a blowout win against the Bucks. They are doing this with some injuries and Jerryd Bayless may be out for some time meaning they will have to go deeper into the bench as they are still dealing with JJ Redick’s injury. This should be a fun game between two young teams.
Thursday January 25th
Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors (10:30PM EST)
This will be the second meeting between these two teams, the first was a blowout win in Oakland for the Warriors. The Timberwolves have been one of the hottest teams in the league of late with some big wins, but they have also had some head-scratching losses. Last week they dropped a game to a bad Orlando Magic team and the week before that it was a loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Jimmy Butler will not let them get beat too often like that and his play of late has been great. The Timberwolves are going to come into this game after having a busy three days. They will play the Clippers on the 22nd, the Trail Blazers on the 24th, and then this game the next night. That three game road trip will be huge for this team. If they can get those first two I would not be shocked at them getting blown out in this one.
The Warriors lost to the Rockets, but this team is built of much harder stuff and it will not hurt their play. They understand that it is a marathon and not a sprint. The Warriors are 8-2 in their last 10 games and they have some time off to get ready for this game. They will not play again until Tuesday the 23rd against the Knicks before welcoming in the Timberwolves on Thursday. The Warriors went 4-1 on their road trip and this three game homestand against the Knicks, Timberwolves, and Celtics will be business as usual for the defending champs.
Friday January 26th
Utah Jazz at Toronto Raptors (7:30PM EST)
This is the second and final meeting of the season between these two teams, the Raptors won the first contest in Utah and now it is the Jazz traveling to Toronto. The Jazz come in as a team that has struggled to get wins lately. They are 4-6 in their last 10 and are four and a half games out of the playoff picture. Despite all of that, Utah fans are excited because of their superstar rookie Donovan Mitchell. The buzz on NBA twitter in regards to Mitchell is very fun to take in. Mitchell’s amazing play has Utah fans excited for the future and they should be. The Jazz are a team full of good players that make them suitable to make a move for great players at the trade deadline.
The Raptors have also struggled as of late and even though they are 6-4 in their last 10, they have lost some tough games. Losing to the 76ers, Warriors, Timberwolves, and the Heat is tough for a team that fancies themselves as contenders to possibly make it to the Finals. They have a firm grasp on the second seed in the East and only play three games in the next 8 days. They will have a chance to get back on track with a game against the Hawks in Atlanta on Wednesday before traveling back to Canada for this game on Friday. This should be a fun matchup.
Saturday January 27th
Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors (8:30PM EST)
This is the second and final meeting between these teams. The first game was a great one in Boston that the Celtics were able to win by four. The Celtics and Warriors are the best teams in the league by record in their respective conferences, but it feels like they are not in the same tier. The Celtics have lost two in a row heading into their Sunday game with the Magic before they head out to the West coast for a four game road trip that includes a back to back against the Lakers and Clippers with three days off before this nationally televised game. The Celtics are in a good spot and are playing with house money at this point. They look very ordinary without Kyrie Irving and they are going to need him if they hope to put up a fight in this game. The Celtics need a second scorer that they can count on from night to night if they hope to make a run in the playoffs.
The Warriors will be up for this game. They will have rest and they remember that they lost their previous game against this team. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson really struggled in Boston. The Warriors have a tendency to get up for games like this and this loss in particular was a tough one for the Warriors. The 88 points that they scored was their lowest of the season when all four of their superstars played. It should be a fun one to watch.
Sunday January 28th
Los Angeles Clippers at New Orleans Pelicans (4PM EST)
This is the second meeting of the season for these teams. The Pelicans came out on top in the first game back in November. Since then, the Clippers died and rose again to the point where they are now over .500 and in the 8th seed in the West. Despite their great play, there are a great deal of rumors of deals that they may or may not make involving some of their more important players, DeAndre Jordan and Lou Williams. It will be an interesting week for this Clippers team. They have games against the Timberwolves and Celtics at home followed by a road trip where they will stop off in Memphis before heading to New Orleans. Will they make a move before then or will they stand pat and try to get into the playoffs? When healthy this team can do some things, but this season has been tough from an injury standpoint.
The Pelicans are just above the Clippers in the 7th seed and are only a game and a half from the 5th seed. They like the Clippers are a very intriguing team as the trade deadline approaches. Do they try and move Cousins and get more rotation players to surround Anthony Davis? They seem to have a higher ceiling than some of the other teams in the West, but in order for them to reach that ceiling they need more from their wings. This should be a good matchup with Cousins and Davis going against Griffin and Jordan. Cousins and Davis combined for 60 in their first meeting. This should be a fun game, but will these teams be the same by next Sunday?