With the Philadelphia 76ers breaking all records for being bad and the Memphis Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors playing better than any other team in their respective conferences, the NBA has proven to be a very interesting league this season. Here’s a look at six of this week’s most intriguing games, including a consideration of the Heat and their status in the league.
Miami at Washington (Monday, Dec 1st)
The Miami Heat and the Washington Wizards meet in a Southeast Division contest. Once an ultra-dominant team, the Heat aren’t as good as they used to be, and teams like the Wizards have improved enough to be competitive. In the league, Miami puts a decent defense on the court, but they are 21st in scoring and 30th in rebounding.
For Miami upfront, center Chris Bosh (.452 FG%, 28.7 PPG, 8.8 RPG) is a stable force with a solid shot; he’s the team’s most consistent and proliferate contributor. The high percentage shooters on the team are SG Dwyane Wade and SF Luol Deng; both are plus-50% field goal shooters. Still, Miami is a team that doesn’t quite have enough, as they struggle in major areas such as offensive rebounding and blocked shots. They bring a sound free throw percentage, which stands at 76%, and a good three-point completion rate at 39%.
The Wizards are not a whole lot better, but they are more dominant in the paint, grabbing 42.1 RPG, and they offer more assists, totaling 24.6 APG. Washington has a strong outside game, which is anchored by PG John Wall (9.2 APG, 2.29 SPG). Center Marcin Gortat is their most consistent shooter, hitting just over 50% of his field goal attempts. This game will give you a good idea of where these teams are in relationship to one another.
Dallas at Chicago (Tuesday, Dec 2nd)
The Southwest Division is one in which just about every team has a shot at the division crown or at earning a playoff berth. The Dallas Mavericks may be in first or fifth place in the division, but they will still be in the playoff hunt. The team is average on defense, but they are monsters in points scored and assists. The Mavs averages 109.1 PPG, and PF Dirk Nowitzki leads the club with 19.7 PPG and a .511 shooting percentage. The Bulls are one of the top clubs in the Central Division, but their point total, which stands at just over 100, and shooting percentage, which is .458, are no match for Dallas. You have to like the Mavs in this one.
Memphis at Houston (Tuesday, Dec 2nd)
The two top teams in the Southwest Conference meet on Tuesday. For the Grizzlies, it’s their defense that keeps them in the game, as they put an average offense on the court. PF Zach Randolph is a rebounding magnet; he’s averaging over 11 rebbies per game. The team totals of 11.0 OFFR, 42.7 RPG, 8.07 SPG, and 3.47 BPG are topnotch. The Houston Rockets are also very good on defense, as they are ranked first in points allowed. Dwight Howard is the team’s leader on the court. He’s averaging 11.3 RPG and 2.30 BPG. Team totals that tell the tale of their impressive D are 43.1 RPG, 11.9 OFFR, 9.40 SPG, and 5.13 BPG. This will be a close one, but look for the better defense, which the Rockets have, to win it.
San Antonio at Brooklyn (Wednesday, Dec 3rd)
The San Antonia Spurs come to Brooklyn with a solid PF/PA differential of 5.8 PPG. Brooklyn’s differential in PF/PA stands at -0.7 PPG. Two reasons for the Spurs sound differential are PF Tim Duncan (10.2 RPG, 2.08 BPG, .489 FG%) and PG Tony Parker (17.1 PPG, 5.3 APG, .514 FG%). Both vets are playing very polished B-ball. For the Brooklyn Nets, PG Deron Williams (18.4 PPG, 6.6 APG) is a major force, and center Brook Lopez (15.6 PPG, 1.83 BPG, .503 FG%) can be an important factor if he can stay in the transition game. This is a time for Brooklyn to step up, especially with the Spurs in the middle of an East Coast swing when they may be tired and vulnerable.
Cleveland at Toronto (Friday, Dec 5th)
When Cleveland visits Toronto, they will be tested. The Raptors are averaging 108.0 PPG, while they are allowing just 96.4 PPG. On the other hand, the Cavs are scoring 102.9 PPG, while allowing 99.5 PPG. The difference-makers for the Cavaliers will be SF LeBron James (25.3 PPG, 7.2 APG) and PG Kyrie Irving (20.9 PPG, 4.8 APG). They can ensure a win. For the Raptors, center Jonas Valanciunas (12.2 PPG, 8.0 RPG, 1.29 BPG), who hits 59% of his shots, can have a major influence with tough, upfront play.
Miami at Memphis (Sunday, Dec 7th)
This is an interesting matchup as the former unbeatable team, the Heat, take on the new kids on the block, the Grizzlies. It tough not to like Memphis, as their tight defense should be able to keep the Miami offense in check.
Next Week in the NBA
Next week will include some great matchups, starting with Dallas visiting Memphis on December 8th. This should be a good test for both teams. Also, Portland is at Chicago on the 12th in a battle between a Western and an Eastern Conference contender. The struggling L.A. Lakers go back to the state where the franchise was born to play another team that’s struggling equally, the Minnesota Timberwolves. Check out these teams and more in one week!