We’ve reached Game-week four. Since the season started, COVID-19 problems are becoming bigger daily. How it will affect this game week, you can find out if you read my NBA Game Previews every day.
New York Knicks @ Charlotte Hornets
If the season ends tonight, both of these teams would enter the playoffs. It’s a real surprise for almost anyone, even for me. To be honest, both squads deserve this record and a playoff spot for the games they have displayed so far. Julius Randle becomes a real leader of the Knicks. Some optimistic fans say he is the next Patrick Ewing. If the Knicks manage to take a playoff spot for the first time in several years, this may become a subject of debate.
Before that, they have to overcome tonight’s host. Charlotte is playing well from the season start, and they don’t tend to stop. Every now and then, the leading role is changing, and that’s their biggest advantage. I assume that the most possible outcome is a draw tonight. The Hornets will probably win in the OT because Tom Thibodeau is forcing his players too much (two of five players with the most played minutes belong to the Knicks).
Memphis Grizzlies @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Among the teams whose rosters are injury-plagued are Cleveland Cavaliers. (Un)Luckily, their reason is not Coronavirus but injuries. Without Darius Garland, Matthew Dellavedova, Kevin Porter, and maybe Collin Sexton, their only guard is Damyean Dotson, and he has a slight injury. The Grizzlies have the same problem with the injured player, Ja Morant. They have found a way to overcome it with Tyus Jones as a starting point guard. So, everything suggests that this game will be a clash of centers. On both sides, we have dominant and excellent players, Andre Drummond, and Jonas Valanciunas. Larry Nance jr. , the league leader in steals, will help Andre, while Dillon Brooks will assist a strong Lithuanian center.
The result depends on turnovers because both squads are among the league’s top defensive teams, and can make a lot of steals. I would give a slight advantage to the visitors, but if Sexton plays, the home team should win easily.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Orlando Magic
A clash between playoff rivals. After missing the previous contest, Giannis is probable to play tonight. That will affect Bobby Portis the most and move him to the bench. Portis did show that he is a very important factor in the Bucks game, improving the only thing they were bad at – the bench points. On the opposite, the home team is impacted by the injuries. Markelle Fultz has ended the season, while Evan Fournier is probable. The main figure of Orlando is Nikola Vucevic again. The Montenegrin center plays remarkably from the beginning of the season and will probably be an All-Star one more time. The visitors should win tonight, but I don’t expect a comfortable triumph, especially not the high margin.
Washington Wizards @ Phoenix Suns
A tilt between the best and the worst defense in the NBA. The home side allows only a 100.4 PPG, while the visitors allow 121.4 PPG. To make things worse, Thomas Bryant (torn ACL) and Russell Westbrook (left quad) will miss tonight’s game. We all know that Rui Hachimura and Bradley Beal are not that good at defending, so I believe they will put everything on offense. Will that be enough against the Suns’ defensive wall – we will find out tonight. I won’t bother you about predicting the winner, but I will tell you that you will be wrong if you anticipate a low amount of points because Phoenix can score a bunch of buckets, too.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Atlanta Hawks
I continue my NBA Game Previews with this Eastern Conference battle. The Sixers have injury-related concerns, but luckily for them, Joel Embiid is back tonight. Joel missed a few games due to back spasms, and now he is ready to play. Tyrese Maxey showed the last time that he can score (38 PTS, zero free-throws). How good he’ll perform alongside Joel Embiid we will see against the direct playoff opponent.
The home team welcomes Philly with a problem too – an injury of the second unit leader Bogdan Bogdanovic. It is a problem, but it is a solid chance for Solomon Hill to log more minutes, and it opens a space for more shots from Trae Young. There is a conflict between the two main stars of the team – John Collins and Young. That may be an obstacle for the Hawks. If we ignore all these problems and Trae’s bad mood in the last two games, the Hawks should win. But if all these things affect badly the atmosphere in the locker room, an outcome in favor of the 76ers is very possible.
New Orleans Pelicans @ Dallas Mavericks
Postponed due to safety reasons.
Toronto Raptors @ Portland Trail Blazers
Last night, the Raptors lost to the Warriors. Pascal Siakam had a game-winning shot in his hands, but he missed it. There is no particular reason for them to play this bad early in the season, and they need to change something fast. Nick Nurse announced a “small ball” formation with Pascal Siakam at the center – the coach’s last resort. While the Raptors are struggling, the Blazers chase down another win to continue the streak. All of the players are motivated, especially CJ McCollum, who already has two games with 35+ points. The bench is finally on maximum level, led by Carmelo Anthony and Enes Kanter. It should be a comfortable win for them, maybe a blowout, and I think the bench will have the main role tonight.
Indiana Pacers @ Sacramento Kings
I am closing today’s NBA Game Previews with this inter-conference meeting. It is a chance for the Pacers to take the leading position in the Eastern Conference. They are playing some amazing basketball and are firing on all cylinders. Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon hold the cards for Indiana, but anyone can join them any time. While the visitors are constant in winning, the Sacramento Kings can’t be constant throughout a single game. Oscillations on defense and weak offensive rhythm cost this team a positive record, even though they played fine. The odds say that the visitors have bigger probabilities to win, but I wouldn’t write off the Kings at their Golden 1 Center, even though the stands are empty.
The COVID-19 had entered every aspect of our lives. Even our beloved NBA league can’t continue without the interference of the virus. Still, I will keep you informed daily in my NBA Game Previews.