NBA Games of the Week 01/29-02/04
Todd Korol / Toronto Star
This week in the NBA ended with some big injuries and included the unveiling of the All-Star teams. DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Roberson both appear to be out for the season after suffering injuries over the weekend. While Cousins’ injury will get more attention for its huge impact on the Pelicans, Roberson’s injury will hurt the Thunder. Stephen Curry and Lebron James have their All-Star teams and we will see if it makes a difference in the quality of the game. Also, the trade deadline is a week and a half away. If you are not checking out the awesome trades on OTG, shame on you. Check them out here with more content coming every day. Let’s get to the games.
Monday January 29th
Philadelphia 76ers at Milwaukee Bucks (8PM EST)
These two teams played each other a little over a week ago and the Bucks were embarrassed by the young up and coming team from Philly. They lost by 22 points and Jason Kidd was fired a day and a half later. Superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was upset about it and this might be a revenge game for the MVP candidate.
The 76ers are currently 24-21 sitting at the number seven spot in the East. They have won 5 of their last 6 games and will play the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road on Sunday and then travel into Milwaukee for this game. It will be a test for the young team. Joel Embiid got some good news and will be starting in the All-Star game representing the 76ers as their first All-Star starter since Allen Iverson. Ben Simmons did not make the team, but it is easy to see that it is in his future.
The Milwaukee Bucks will be represented with their own starting All-Star in Giannis Antetokounmpo. The team is currently 25-22 sitting in the 8th seed in the East behind the 76ers. They are 2-0 since Jason Kidd’s firing heading into a Sunday showdown with the Bulls. They will play in Chicago before flying back to Milwaukee to take on the 76ers on Monday night.
Tuesday January 30th
Oklahoma City Thunder at Washington Wizards (7PM EST)
This game comes just five days after the Thunder took down the Wizards in Oklahoma City behind Russell Westbrook’s insane performance that was motivated in part because he mistakenly thought that he was the last pick of the All-Star game. You cannot make this stuff up. The Wizards look like a team that is in real trouble at the moment. Although they played the Thunder close, they were embarrassed by the Mavericks last week on the court and then John Wall was embarrassed off the court by JJ Barea.
The Thunder are one of the hottest teams in the league in the midst of a 7 game winning streak. They got some tough news over the weekend about Andre Roberson’s injury. They will miss his defensive impact, but they have the star power to absorb the blow. Russell Westbrook was the only player from the team in the All-Star game and he will play for Team Lebron, but Paul George will now join him after Cousin's injury.
The Wizards are a hard team to get a feel for. They have been able to maintain the 5th spot in the East, but they are not a team that you would feel good about picking to move on in the playoffs. They have lost four of their last six games and have had some issues amongst themselves. John Wall and Bradley Beal both made the All-Star team and will be on Team Lebron.
Wednesday January 31st
Miami Heat at Cleveland Cavaliers (7:30PM EST)
This will be the 2nd game between these two teams. Their first took place at the end of November and was won by the Cavaliers, who were in the midst of their big winning streak that now feels like a long time ago. The Heat since that game have come on strong and are close to Cleveland for the number three spot in the East.
The Heat have had a great January going 10-4 with only a game against the Mavericks on Monday and this game on Wednesday left for them. They are currently 28-21 and are only one game behind the Cavaliers for the third spot. The Heat are a team that can give Miami some problems because they defend and they can hurt the Cavaliers in transition. Goran Dragic should also have no trouble getting into the paint against Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose.
The Cavaliers are struggling and have had a tough month. Heading into this game with the Heat, the Cavaliers will play a home and home against the Detroit Pistons, a team they have had some success against this season. A couple of wins could be big for a team struggling. The soap opera continues with Isaiah Thomas at the center. They are going to make a move and the only question is if it will happen before this game.
Thursday February 1st
Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs (8PM EST)
The Rockets won the first meeting between these two teams in the middle of December and since then both teams have stayed their course. The Spurs are dealing with drama that they do not usually deal with in regards to Kawhi Leonard and whether or not he is unhappy. The Rockets continue to play well and look unbeatable at times.
The Rockets finally lost a game with their full team healthy, falling to the Pelicans on Friday. They are still sitting at the number two spot in the West, but they are four and a half games behind a Warriors team that may not lose four games for the rest of the season. The Rockets main focus should be on getting healthy. They will play the Suns and Magic at home before heading to San Antonio for this one.
The Spurs are always the team without inner turmoil, but that changed last week. They are still having success, but will they actually trade Kawhi? Whether or not they will, they are still the number three team in the West at the moment. Their lead over Minnesota has shrunk to only half a game. This game’s outcome could push them to the fourth spot if they come out with a loss. LaMarcus Aldridge is the team’s only All-Star and he will suit up for Team Lebron.
Friday February 2nd
Portland Trail Blazers at Toronto Raptors (7:30PM EST)
This will be the 2nd and final game of the season between these two teams and the Raptors were able to steal a win in Portland and the Trail Blazers would love to return the favor in Toronto. The Raptors seem firmly entrenched at the top of the Eastern Conference standings with the Celtics while the Trail Blazers are in a fight for their playoff lives every night. Every game is important for this Portland team.
Damian Lillard did make the All-Star team after letting his frustrations loose. He will suit up for Team Stephen. The Trail Blazers are currently 27-22 sitting at the 7th seed in the West. The injury of DeMarcus Cousins could have a huge impact on their playoff seeding and it may help them move up in the standings. They have been hot winning five of their last six games.
The Raptors had two players selected to the All-Star game including the starting DeMar DeRozan. He and Kyle Lowry will both suit up for Team Stephen. The Raptors find themselves with a firm grip on the two seed in the East with only a game and a half separating them from the Celtics.
Saturday February 3rd
New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves (9PM EST)
The Timberwolves have won all three games that they have played against the Pelicans this season and they hope to complete the sweep next Saturday. Minnesota has to be happy that they are currently in the top four in the Western Conference, but they have struggled somewhat over the last few games and were again outclassed by the Warriors last Thursday. These two teams will more than likely be in the playoffs giving it more significance for both teams. Wins are not easy to come by in the West and Minnesota has a chance to make a move on a San Antonio team that is dealing with in house drama. Moving up to the three seed would be huge for the Timberwolves.
This will be the Pelicans’ fourth game without DeMarcus Cousins and by this point they should have an idea what their expectations for the season may be. If they find themselves 0-3 heading into this game, will they stand pat and chalk it up to bad luck or will they make a move? They are currently in possession of the 6th seed in the West and had been on a roll winning seven of their last 8 games. Cousins and Anthony Davis were both voted as starters for the All-Star game on Team Lebron.
The Timberwolves are still in the 4th seed in the West. They have had chances to overtake the Spurs, but they have been up and down. They are 3-4 in their last seven games. It feels like they should have a better record than they do, but Jimmy Butler has missed some time due to injuries. They went 2-2 during the four games they missed. Their ceiling is drastically lower without Butler. Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns will play in the All-Star game for Team Stephen.
Sunday February 4th
Portland Trail Blazers at Boston Celtics (12PM EST)
The Trail Blazers are going to be quite busy next week and their week comes to an end with an afternoon showdown with the Boston Celtics. Heading into this game the Trail Blazers will have played in Los Angeles on Tuesday, back to Portland on Wednesday, and gone to Toronto for a game on Friday. This could be a tough one for the Trail Blazers to win. They play the very next day on Monday February 5th against the Pistons in Detroit. It’s a tough stretch for a team that needs wins. The Celtics went through a mini slump losing four in a row before finding a win against the Clippers. The Celtics have seen their lead over the Raptors in the East shrink and it is not crazy to think that the Raptors may go into the All-Star break with the best record in the conference.
The Celtics lost a tough game to the Warriors on Saturday. They are still number one in the East over the Raptors sitting at 35-15. They have lost five of their last six games and appear to be hitting a wall with their young players. This week will be big for them with a game in Denver on Monday before playing at home against the Knicks and Hawks. This will be a great matchup with Kyrie Irving against the two Portland guards. Kyrie and Al Horford made the All-Star game. Kyrie will start for Team Lebron, that won’t be awkward, and Horford will play for Team Stephen.