NBA Game Previews for December 31st

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The last NBA Game Previews for 2020. Even though it is New Year’s Eve, we all know that this NBA carrousel never stops. Seven games will take place tonight, four in the East and three in the West.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Indiana Pacers

I start the NBA Game Previews with this Central Division clash. No one would ever expect that the young Cavaliers team will play like this. They are 3-1, and they are facing a regular playoff participant – tonight’s home team. Everything indicates that we will have an interesting game. Motivated with the record they have thus far, and with the fact that Collin Sexton scored 18.3 PPG in three games against the Pacers last season, I assume Sexton will steal the show.

Empowered by Andre Drummond, who also had great stats against Indiana last season (17.8 RPG in five games), the Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t come to lose tonight. Meanwhile, in the home team, the atmosphere is very good, and they will give their best to win. Quality is on their side, that’s clear, but they are weakened by TJ Warren’s absence (left foot soreness). The Cavaliers are not famous for the defense, but they let opposite shooting guards only 16.3 PPG, so Victor Oladipo will be on a tough task. Odds are on the home side, but the final result is still difficult to predict.

Chicago Bulls @ Washington Wizards

I don’t know what to say about tonight’s home team. Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal have an embarrassing slow start. With a 0-4 record, they are the worst team in the Eastern Conference and also in the Southeast. Their last loss came by the hand of Zach LaVine and the Bulls two days ago. Young Bulls have lost to the Warriors by only one point difference, so we can easily say that they are on a positive ratio. Will it be the first victory of the season for the Wizards, or Russ and Beal will play well for their statistics and continue to lose – we will know tonight.

Philadephia 76ers @ Orlando Magic

The best squad in the NBA at the moment awaits a direct playoff opponent. Led by the amazing but very underrated Nikola Vucevic, the Magic play some fantastic basketball at the season’s beginning. The starting center of Orlando averaged 20.7 PPG in three games last season against the 76ers. Meanwhile, he is averaging 19.6 PPG and 10.9 RPG this season, which guarantees us that Orlando is a very tough rival for the Sixers. On the other hand, Joel Embiid (back tightness) is probable for tonight’s encounter, and Simmons is in his rhythm again, so this is expected to be quite an entertaining game. The deciding factor is unknown, just like the winner, but that’s the good side of this sport – everything is possible.

Sacramento Kings @ Houston Rockets

The first game where the Houston Rockets play with a full roster and the first game at the Toyota Center. You can’t find a better opportunity for the Rockets to win tonight. James Harden was magnificent and has scored 78 points in two games; however, that wasn’t enough to win. Tonight’s visitors have a positive 3-1 record, and they are playing very well. Every player gives his contribution either by scoring or rebounding, and that’s the key to their current success. If John Wall comes back after nearly two years without a competitive game in a way he used to play in Washington, and DeMarcus Cousins shows why he used to be called “the best young center in the league,” this game will be a festival for basketball lovers. If the hosts heavily rely on the Beard, the Kings may win.

New York Knicks @ Toronto Raptors

To continue my New Year’s Eve NBA Game Previews, I choose the Atlantic Division tilt. The first game in Canada was terrible for the home side because they have lost to New Orleans, but in their defense, that was the first game of the season for the Raptors. The NBA champions from two years ago play like all their quality faded away. Without significant changes on the roster, the reason why they play this badly is unknown.

Meanwhile, the New York Knicks surprised everyone by winning over the Bucks and Cavs and showed they know how to play this game. Julius Randle proved he is an excellent “big man,” and he even managed to post a triple-double last time out. Any outcome wouldn’t be surprising because Toronto is a good team, and it’s only a matter of time when they will find their rhythm. The Knicks are capable of losing a game when they lead by dozen of points or more.

New Orleans Pelicans @ Oklahoma City Thunder

The encounter of very young but high-quality teams. OKC was in the top 10 defensive teams in the league, but they allowed 20.7 PPG to the opposing power forwards. We all know that the PF of New Orleans is Zion Williamson, who is averaging 21.3 PPG this season, so this game will help him improve his stats for sure. On the opposite, the Pelicans were not that good in defending the rim last season, but they are solid at guarding opponents shooting guards, allowing them to score only 18.2 PPG. This will be a particularly difficult obstacle for the hosts at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Both squads have potential, but the odds are even. A good shooting night of an individual can change the course of the game and the winner can be any team, even a tie in regulation won’t surprise.

Phoenix Suns @ Utah Jazz

For the last game of my NBA Game Previews, I choose the final duel of tonight’s schedule. It will be a tilt between a team that played very well in the bubble last summer and continued the same way – the Suns, and the team that was a participant of the Western Conference playoffs, but this season is inconsistent, sometimes awesome, sometimes very poor. It won’t be any wonder if the visitors win today’s game, but not because of luck, just because of the very bad mood the Jazz have fallen into. But also if Donovan Mitchell plays as he knows and Bojan Bogdanovic, famous “Babo”, sets his hands the right way – Utah will manage to secure a victory. A draw is a very possible option for the final result, and if there is a winner in regular time, the margin won’t be bigger than five points.

To sum up, this year brought us different things. Quarantine, covid-protocol for the players, play-in/play-out rules, and bubble games. This was also a very sad year for the basketball world because of the tragic death of Kobe Bryant, for the Lakers fans especially, but LeBron and co. managed to bring the ring to LA, so they can call 2020 a very successful year after all. The new NBA season has just started, and New Year will begin tomorrow, so I hope that everything will be better for us, for the NBA, and for basketball itself. Thank you for reading my NBA Games Preview, enjoy this night, and a Happy New Year!

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