Matchups & Predictions:
Kings (7-10) @ Wizards (5-10)
Sixers (4-13) @ Raptors (10-6)
Thunder (10-8) @ Knicks (8-8)
Celtics (9-7) @ Heat (5-11)
Hornets (9-7) @ Grizzlies (11-6)
Jazz (9-8) @ Wolves (5-11)
Hawks (10-7) @ Warriors (15-2)
- 1: Westbrook vs Rose. This Thunder/Knicks battle has a touch of old versus new about it. Not that Russ is new but Rose was the last all out attack PG to wow the league and what Russ is currently doing is every bit as impressive. The winner of this battle will set their team up for the Dub.
- 2: Embiid vs JVal. The battle of the big men in Canada will be fun to watch. Being honest, the game result is only likely to end one way. But Embiid has proven he can be a one man wrecking crew when he is ‘on’ and any chance to watch him play is a must, given his minute restriction and nights off. You get the feeling he loves going up against other known young C’s in the league too.
- 3: Kemba vs Conley. Are there two more underrated point guards than Kemba Walker and Mike Conley? Kemba’s even $12m per year is looking like a bargain compared to the albatross that is Mike “biggest contract in league history” Conley’s. Having said that, both are having terrific seasons leading their respective teams. Going to be a good one in Elvis’ hood.
- 4: Millsap vs Green. This may be more hopeful than anything, with Green questionable going into this game. However, Millsap just turned in a stinker against the Lakers and I am hopeful he can turn it around to give the Hawks a chance to give GSW their first true test in a while. This individual matchup will be key and could be a competition for who can stuff the state sheet more.
#JerseyBet Competition: Westbrook is a walking triple double at the moment. Take a crack at his points/rebounds/assists totals against the Knicks. If neither of us get it right and you do, you win a jersey of your choice.
David: 26 points / 6 rebounds / 12 assists
Sam: 33 points / 8 rebounds / 13 assists
Spotlight Game: Utah Jazz @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Utah Jazz (9-8) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (5-11)
Target Center – November 28th @ 8:00pm ET (AUS – 12:00pm Tue 29th)
Winners of 2 straight, Utah are looking to get their season on track now that they are semi healthy. George Hill is back and continuing his breakout campaign…if you can have those at 30 years of age. Rodney Hood is just a solid ball player, and the match-up with the ignitable Zach LaVine should be all kinds of fun. Both Hood and LaVine have given some epic highlights this season. Hayward is the engine that gets this Jazz team ticking, coming off 3 consecutive 20+ point games. A unique player who will have his fair share of suitors come Free Agency 2017 – a great contest against Wiggins in this one. Diaw starts for the injured Derrick Favors, as Lyles seems better suited off the bench at this stage. The Stifle Tower aka Rudy Gobert will have his work cut out for him by the mobile Towns – can Rudy nullify this beast? He’s probably as well placed as anyone.
Let’s face it, the Wolves are struggling and it’s not about to get any easier. Only 5 wins on the season with the last one against a lowly Suns team and the first against the Grizz now a distant memory. There are a few winnable games coming up (this being one of them) before a brutal schedule in the lead up to Christmas. Wiggins has cooled off recently and KAT just doesn’t see enough of the ball. Time for Rubio to play his part on both ends of the floor to ignite this ball club. I would like to see him disrupt the Jazz sets and push the tempo to a pace they clearly don’t like to play. Find Wiggins and LaVine out on the break and get KAT touches in his spots. Dieng could be the odd man out in this contest (as noted below) and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play limited minutes if he can’t get going early. I am not going to predict a Wolves win in this one, however I would not be surprised if they could look to make a statement against a standings rival and protect home court.
Key Bench Guys:
Last time I wrote about Trey Lyles, he had struggled out of the gate and looked like he had some of the sophomore blues. It looks like he has turned that form around, averaging 11.6ppg and 6.8 rpg in 23.4 minutes over the past 5 contests. Lyles’ ability to stretch the floor needs to be respected, and the Wolves 4 men in Dieng and Bjelica will have their work cut out for them.
The Wolves bench hasn’t provided the type of punch you need to compete with top tier teams in the NBA so far. Nemanja Bjelica is an intriguing option off the pine for Coach Thibs, adding much needed shooting within the second unit. With the Jazz shorthanded at the PF slot and having to give Diaw/Lyles significant minutes, the Wolves could do with Bjelica hitting from deep and drawing the D out. If his shot starts falling, don’t be surprised to see him stay in with the starters to give KAT more space to operate.