Analyzing and Predicting Tonight's match ups in the NBA: Tuesday, January 15th
Highlighted by a high scoring, tightly-contested affair between the Pelicans and Clippers; last night in the NBA provided some interesting developments across many story lines in the league. League powers San Antonio, Boston, and Portland all fell in surprise upsets while Utah continued their resurrection behind yet another strong defensive performance.
Although we have another light slate of 6 games on the day, the lineup definitely does not lack star power. Beyond the premier Warriors-Nuggets showdown, we have a laundry list of superstars, exciting youngsters, and unexpectedly hot teams all taking the hardwood on Tuesday night.
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Philadelphia 76ers - 7pm ET
This will be the first matchup of the season between the resurgent Minnesota Timberwolves and the inconsistent Philadelphia 76ers.
Coming off another monster performance from the recently unchained Karl-Anthony Towns, the Timberwolves are looking every part of a team capable of making a second half playoff push. Posting a 27/27/3/2/4 stat line in his last outing, Towns has been playing some of the best basketball of his entire career.
Meanwhile, the Sixers have struggled as of late. Despite picking up a win in their last game, the lowly Knicks played them tight to the final buzzer. They previously had dropped their last two games to the actively tanking Atlanta Hawks and a Wizards team missing their key offensive weapon.
Prediction: Despite the Timberwolves battling through injuries to key players in Rose, Covington, and Teague; the fact remains that the team is rolling behind the otherworldly play of Towns.
He draws the challenge of doing battle with Embiid down low, so look for the game to be won or lost on the low block. Embiid has notably had conditioning issues that hamper him late in games, and if this one is close heading into the 4th, look for Towns to go to work and put the game out of reach. Minnesota continues their hot streak with another upset win over a quality opponent on the road.
Phoenix Suns @ Indiana Pacers - 7pm ET
This will be the second go-round between these two squads with Indiana barely sneaking by the young and exciting Phoenix Suns.
Despite not having the record to show for it, the Suns are truly one of the most exciting teams in the NBA. Frankly, if you have NBA league pass and aren't keeping up with the Suns, you're doing yourself a massive disservice. Coming off a shocking win against Denver, the Suns will look to continue their streak against a dangerous Pacers squad.
The Pacers have undoubtedly picked up steam since the start of the year. Going a scorching 8-2 across their last 10 games, the Pacers have picked back up since the clock turned to December. While most of those recent wins have come against sub .500 teams, the fact remains that the Pacers are hot.
Prediction: As important as the emergence of rookie off-ball guard De'Anthony Melton has been to the defensive energy and unselfish play the Suns have been bringing to the table recently, it simply won't be enough to take down the Pacers. Known for feasting on sub .500 teams, the Pacers get a team that is 4-16 on the road coming to their home court. This should be a fun game, but the Pacers should control this one throughout.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Atlanta Hawks - 7:30pm ET
These two teams have met just once prior on the year with Oklahoma City delivering a beatdown to the rebuilding Hawks.
Since Christmas, the Thunder have faced a grueling stretch of the schedule that they were able to escape from at 5-5. Doing battle with the league's best almost each and every outing, the Thunder showed the basketball world that they are talented enough to play with any team on any night.
Following a surprise win over Philadelphia, the Hawks returned to their old ways and were run out of the building by the Bucks in their last outing. However, the Hawks have steadily improved throughout the year and look like a team that actually may have a promising future for the first time in years. A gritty young bunch, the Hawks have a propensity to play to the level of their competition (but more often fall just short).
Prediction: This should be a pretty clear-cut case for the Thunder to make a statement and move on from the gauntlet of talent they've faced the past few weeks. The Hawks are scrappy and might keep it close early; but the George, Westbrook, and Adams trio should be more than enough to go out and take care of business.
Miami Heat @ Milwaukee Bucks - 8pm ET
This is the second meeting on the year for the two squads with the Heat picking up a surprise win against the Bucks back in December. In fact, that win was part of an extreme hot streak for the Heat that was a catalyst in turning their season around.
Miami will come into the affair missing a few key components. With Whiteside questionable and Richardson probable, the Heat's hopes against a deadly Bucks team lie in the hands of those decisions. While Justice Winslow has been a revelation after taking on increased ball-handling responsibilities, he needs those weapons around him to truly make the defense pay.
The Bucks got back on track with a clobbering of the Hawks and look to keep the train rolling against the Heat. With Giannis back, the Bucks are once again a fully operational death star and will pose a matchup nightmare for the Heat.
Prediction: If the Heat come into the matchup shorthanded, the Bucks should cruise wire-to-wire and win this game with ease. However, if you factor in the rebounding prowess of Whiteside and the multi-level scoring of Richardson, this game becomes a much closer affair. All things considered, Giannis and the Bucks should be able to pull this one out either way.
Golden State Warriors @ Denver Nuggets - 9pm ET
Our marquee matchup tonight comes in a showdown between the Western Conference's top two teams, the Warriors and Nuggets. Denver snuck away with the first game in a game that went down to the final buzzer, so expect another tightly contested battle this time around.
At this point, we all know what Golden State brings to the table. They are leaps and bounds the most well-rounded unit in the league and can beat you on both ends of the floor in a variety of ways. Despite dropping the occasional game where they overlook an opponent or simply losing a tight contest to another elite squad, the Warriors are still the most dangerous team in the league based solely off of talent alone.
The Nuggets are coming off a hard-fought win against the Blazers and will look to keep that momentum rolling against what will be their toughest challenge since the last time they played Golden State. Jokic and company have proven their ability to do battle with any team (including these same Warriors who they previously beat).
Prediction: Despite the Nuggets picking up the first win of the season series and playing this matchup on their home court (where oxygen is a limited commodity), I can't find it in myself to pick against the Warriors right now. Klay was slumping horribly the first time these two teams met and in recent weeks, he's finally found his stroke again. Klay operating at full potential unlocks a whole new level Warriors offense and they become nearly unstoppable. Look for the Warriors to take this home in the highest scoring game of the night.
Chicago Bulls @ Los Angeles Lakers - 10:30pm ET
Bringing up the rear on the evening is a matchup between the abysmal Chicago Bulls and the crippled Los Angeles Lakers. This is the first matchup between the teams on the year.
The Bulls have not been good in the slightest this season. Losers of 7 straight in which they haven't looked competitive in the slightest, they are clearly in a "Not tryin' for Zion" mentality. More concerned with getting their young players quality looks and opportunity to grow, winning isn't the Bulls top priority.
The Lakers have been up and down since losing the veteran duo of James and Rondo. Without the veteran leadership, the team very often looks the part of an inexperienced basketball team with an inability to finish out games. Consider the fact that they just dropped a game against Cleveland (yes THAT Cleveland that had not won a game in a month) and all signs point to this being a near must-win game for the young Lakeshow.
Prediction: While the Bulls are definitely better than the Cavaliers, don't expect a repeat of the last Laker outing. A loss to Cleveland at home is embarrassing and the Lakers will be out to do so against a team with no desire to actually win. Lakers comfortably pick up a win in this one.
All in all, should be a very fun night of NBA basketball. I'll be back tomorrow for more analysis and predictions on the day's games in the NBA as we have a slightly larger slate of 8 games in store.
As always, enjoy the games and see you all tomorrow