THE WEEK THAT WAS:
Line Of The Week: LeBron James had a vintage 44/9/10/3/1 performance vs CHA.
Longest Active Winning Streak: Rockets 8 in a row.
Longest Active Losing Streak: Lakers 8 in a row.
East Playoff Bubble: Bucks (12-12) currently hold 8th, with the Hawks (12-13) and Pacers (13-14) both sitting half a game behind.
West Playoff Bubble: Blazers (13-14) are sitting comfortably in 8th, 2 games clear of an unlikely challenger in the Nuggets (10-16).
Tank Watch: Sixers & Mavs (6-19) winning the race to the bottom, each keep their pick.
Recap: The Russ triple double streak ended at 7 early on in the week and he doesn’t want to talk about it anymore apparently (Not buying it Russ). Lebron was back to his best and then the Cavs rested their Big 3 and everyone had a hot take on the resting issue. Personally, I don’t get the mass hysteria even though I get that it sucks. It was a big week for Damian Lillard (even if his team sucks), releasing these new shoes and cracking this great achievement. The Grizzlies upset the Warriors (and Conley is almost back ALREADY?!), the Sixers beat the Pistons and the Magic and Hawks put up 251 points in regulation. Last but certainly not least, the NBA world lost Craig Sager. If you haven’t done so already, do yourself a favour….
Pistons (14-13) @ Wizards (10-14)
Nets (7-17) @ Magic (11-16)
Hornets (14-12) @ Celtics (13-12)
Hawks (12-13) @ Raptors (18-7)
Bucks (12-12) @ Bulls (13-12)
Kings (9-16) @ Grizzlies (18-9)
Pelicans (9-18) @ Rockets (19-7)
Lakers (10-18) @ Sixers (6-19)
Clippers (19-7) @ Heat (9-17)
Mavericks (6-19) @ Jazz (16-10)
#JerseyBet Competition: Harden vs Davis. Both stat sheet stuffers, choose only one of them and tell me what their line will be today. Points, Rebounds, Assists for Harden and Points, Rebounds, Blocks for Davis. If you guess right, you win a jersey of your choice… as long as I don’t get it right too!
Harden: PTS 29, REB 7, AST 13 .
Davis: PTS 27, REB 11, BLK 4.
- Bucks @ Bulls – The second leg of a rare home and home matchup in 2 days. The Giannis/Jabari show took it up to Jimmy & Friends yesterday. Can they lead the Bucks to victory again?
- Hornets @ Celtics – Two East teams on the outside looking in when it comes to serious threats for the playoffs. I’ll be watching to see if one can begin to make a jump.
- Lakers @ Sixers – These 2 will be linked for many years to come. A win to Philly would be sweet but could put LA one step closer to keeping their draft pick.
- Clippers @ Heat – Exactly the type of game LAC should win and that’s why it’s dangerous. Can Dragic or Whiteside catch fire?
Atlanta Hawks (12-13) @ Toronto Raptors (18-7)
Air Canada Centre – December 16th @ 7:30pm ET (AUS – 11:30am Sat 17th)
Perhaps the story of the season in the East so far is the rise and fall of the Hawks, who are currently below .500 and on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Coach Bud has tweaked his starting lineups to try get this team going and it worked momentarily before a bad loss to the Magic. Although the recent decline has been largely down to poor guard play, Millsap and Howard have to put this team on their shoulders as the elder statesmen and drag them out of this rut. This is even more important in a game versus the Raptors, as it’s where Atlanta’s clear advantage lies.
Not too long ago, this matchup would have been a true test for where the Raptors sit in the Eastern landscape. They need to be careful here for that very reason and still take care of business. The backcourt have catapulted the Raptors to the best Offense in the NBA (117.6) and Lowry (who is WHITE HOT! right now) should prove too much for Schroder. They will need him to continue being special, along with DeRozan for that matter, as the rookie Siakam and J-Val are going to have their hands full with the frontcourt of the Hawks. Meanwhile, DeMarre Carroll comes up against his old team and is starting to show signs of life in Toronto.
Kyle Korver has been on a rough slide to start the year, resulting in a move to the bench. But as I outlined in my latest Roster Roundup, Korver is professional enough to turn this into a positive for the Hawks (and maybe his career). The second unit lacks true shooting versus a Raptors bench mob that has plenty of it albeit without much defense, which is where Korver could find form from deep.
The easy choice here was Terrence Ross, who along with Lowry is a major reason this team has a much better offensive rating than their coach deserves (I’m not a fan). Cory Joseph is very important to this matchup though, as he should be able to really take care of the Hawks backup PG in Delaney. Joseph is on a recent good run sharing the rock and will be key to getting guys like Ross and Patterson going from behind the arc.