The NBA season is back tonight, and we go straight in early on this time with a pick in order to try and take advantage of some poor lines early on.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been on a run with a 11-4 record and were massively upset in their last game against the Toronto Raptors; but had many injuries to contend with as now Dellavadova had to drop out due to injury meaning LeBron James had to cover up as a point forward taking their injury count to 4 of their key players with Shumpert, Irving out for longer injuries and now Mozgov and Dellavadova out for a few games.
The Cavaliers will need to rely a lot on their reserve players to chip in with the scoring and in particular to Thompson, Jefferson, JR Smith and James Jones. Kevin Love and LeBron James have been leading this offensive lineup scoring around 45-50 points per night amongst themselves; but need the rest to chip in for the balance scoring. Cavaliers had a players only meeting recently led by James Jones and LeBron James to discuss the efforts that the team are putting in. I can expect the next few games to see them focus more on the defensive side, as when the team are playing good defence they can beat almost everyone.
The Charlotte Hornets have developed their new offence for this season focussing on the 3-point shooting and have moved to a 9-6 record. In particular the Hornets are playing well at home going off to a 7-1 record. They will feel their home is a fortress considering the way they play recently, and will want to make the most of it. Al Jefferson has been a danger in the post, and a lot of responsibility will be on him to score or draw 2 defenders to him to free the 3-point zone for his team. Charlotte will rely a lot on Lin, Walker, Lamb and Batum to continue their shooting and help the team win and space the floor.
The Cavaliers have an advantage who have more quicker and mobile defenders who can stretch out to the perimeter to defend, the they need to turn things around after playing some poor defence in recent games.
The Boston Celtics have been the surprise and one of the most entertaining teams in the NBA in this short season, and a lot of it has to do with their coach Brad Stevens. Stevens is showing to be one of the best coaches in the NBA taking an average team to the playoffs last season and now after strengthening the team and having them play more together; expecting them to make the playoffs again.
The Celtics have been beaten some decent Eastern Conference teams this season including Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Atlanta and also Washington at home by 20 points earlier this month. The Celtics rely primarily on their backcourt scoring mainly for stretching the defence making a lot of 3-point shots Bradley, Thomas, Turner and Crowder. The Celtics are the top 10 in the NBA in scoring averaging 102 points per game. Boston have good rebounders in Sullinger, Olynk, Lee and Zeller averaging 25 rebounds per game, who also like to use a good pass out of their own paint to score around 15 points of the fast break which also in the top 10 in the NBA. Their defence has been what stands out as they have kept opponents down to 98 points per game, which is the top 10 also in the NBA.
The Wizards are just a shadow of themselves and particularly struggling on defence where they concede almost 106 points per game. They have been poor not only in side but also on the perimeter giving up almost 29 points from down town, where the Celtics like to shoot from, for bottom 4 worst in that category. They decided to change their team to get a 3-point scorer in Jared Dudley to compliment other scorers like Beal and Wall; but he hasn’t had the impact they needed like Paul Pierce. Wall in particular has struggled this season with 16 points per game. Their scoring only has Wall, Beal, Gortat and Porter in double digits, but everyone else is less than 8 points per game. That shows they not getting too much scoring inside also that will be beneficial for the Boston defence.
In my opinion, Randy Whittman is potentially the next coach to go in the NBA as he has failed to organise the team with a proper identity, and they are often conceding 57 points in the 1st half alone, for the worst in the NBA; which then makes it difficult for them to catch up when behind. I am backing the good Boston Celtics team to take care of business no their home floor tonight.
The Atlanta Hawks travel to Memphis having lost 4 straight on the road by an 8 point margin on average to poor teams likes Minnesota, Utah, Brooklyn and conference rivals Cleveland during that stretch. Injuries have resulted in them going 3-6 in the last 9, after going 7-1 in their first 8. Teague, Korver, Splitter and Bazemore have missed time across those games, and Splitter will definitely miss tonight, while Bazemore is questionable. The Hawks defines has regressed in the past few games giving up around 103 points per game as compared to 99 points per game during this poor run. Atlanta have struggled without home comforts averaging only 99 points per game away from home as compared to 104 in front of their fans. The Hawks bench has struggled reducing their scoring from 32 points per game last season to 28 this season; and that has not given the starters enough time to rest before they have to come in and catch up on the scoring.
The Memphis Grizzlies are on a tearing 6-1 run after starting 3-6; and have really improved by focussing one defence over this run. They have improved their opponents points per game from 99 points per game, down to 91 points per game. Once Randolph went injured, everyone thought this team will struggle but infact it meant that 2 good defensive players could suit up in the front court with Barnes and Allen there. Gasol (15 points), Green (17 points) and Conley (21 points) have focussed on improving their scoring to help the team starting putting points on the aboard and putting pressure on their opponents. The 3-point shooting has also slightly improved with the addition of Chalmers, and the spacing of the floor with just one big man in Gasol in the middle.
The Grizzlies have enjoyed the home ‘Southern Comfort’ this season, going 5-2 at home, and I expect them to add another victory to their campaign against the struggling Hawks who have been poor on the road.
The Golden State Warriors host the high octane Phoenix Suns in order to try and continue their winning streak taking it to a record beating 17-0. The Golden State Warriors have been tearing it apart on the offensive end averaging 115 points per game. The Warriors have relied a lot on Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes are averaging is 65 points per game. The team are shooting 48% from the field and 41% from 3-point territory to lead the NBA in both those marks. The Warriors love taking on poor defensive teams like the Phoenix Suns who have struggled to protect themselves from the 3-point territory giving up a lot of points to their opponents as was seen the in the 2 games against the Pelicans.
The Suns are giving up around 104 points per game on average and 113 points over their last 4 games, of which 3 of those 4 were on the road, much like tonight’s game. The Suns might be good in front of their fans to entertain the crowd, but struggle giving up 107 points per game away from home throughout this campaign. The Warriors looking at those stats will be excited by the fact that they have scored 111, 118, 106, 124, 115 in their last 5 games to average over 114; and I definitely think they can add to their total tonight.
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