What a great way to kick off the week. The Clippers have already reeled off wins against the Grizzlies, Heat, Lakers, and these Spurs. Can they continue their early dominance? The Spurs have taken down the Thunder, Lakers and Jazz, but would love nothing more than to avenge one of their two losses on the season.
Keys to Victory: The dynamic duo of Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili were anything dynamic but in their earlier matchup, as they were held to 13 points COMBINED and -22. Parker needs a return to the Tony of old – the same Tony Parker that led the Spurs to wins in all six matchups with the Clippers last season (Two regular season + four straight in the playoffs). For Los Angeles, Jamal Crawford will need his hot 20.0 points per game start to continue as he goes head to head with an extremely deep Spurs second-unit.
Prediction: 98-94 for San Antonio
Brooklyn visits Tinsel Town to face the Lakers. The Nets are arriving at the right time as L.A. will be adjusting to Mike D’Antoni’s system. Brooklyn is ranked 4th in Offensive Rating. L.A. has struggled defensively to start the season and, with Mike D’Antoni’s offense-heavy system coming into play, the Nets have an opportunity to light up Los Angeles.
Keys to Victory: Joe Johnson and Deron Williams need to combine for 50+ and ride an offensive outburst for Brooklyn to lead to a W. For L.A., they need to show the defensive intensity they displayed in their first three games under Bernie Bickerstaff (opponents averaged only 84 points).
Prediction: 105-101 for Los Angeles
Jason Kidd returns to Dallas where he played 7 ½ successful seasons and helped achieve the franchise’s only championship. I guess you could say that Kidd’s new team is playing pretty well. The Knicks have the best record in the East and have already beaten the Heat, Spurs, and…..the Mavericks. The Dallas crowd will show their respect to Kidd (I think), but Mark Cuban would like to end the night with everyone’s respect, if his Mavs are able to pull off the upset.
Keys to Victory: These are two of the top 3-point shooting teams in the NBA (New York is 2nd in 3pt FG%. Dallas is 4th). Dallas is also the #1 team in opponents’ 3pt FG%, which they will need to use to get by New York. For the Knicks, Carmelo Anthony needs to take advantage of Dirk Nowitzki’s absence and work the post. Whether it’s kicking out to open shooters while being double-teamed, or using his well-established post game to score at will, Anthony will be the key to a New York victory.
Prediction: 110-98 for New York
Thursday, November 21 – No games scheduled: HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
This was supposed to be the 2012 NBA Finals. LeBron James’ historic game 6 performance in Boston had something to say about that. This will be the first time Kendrick Perkins visits Boston since he was shockingly traded last year for Jeff Green, who is also facing his old team for the first time. There will be high emotion and respect for Perkins as they warm up, but once the ball is tipped off, expect nothing less than a battle royale between Perkins, Kevin Garnett, Serge Ibaka, and Brandon Bass.
*I’m fully aware that Jeremy Lin and his Rockets also face the Knicks, but it’s in Houston, which won’t be as insane (Lin-sane?) as when they play at MSG*
Keys to Victory: Let’s have a little fun with this one. Let’s assume that the front courts will battle to a draw (very likely). It’s also likely that Kevin Durant and Paul Pierce match each other point for point. I believe this will simply boil down to who has the higher combined total of points, rebounds, and assists between Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo.
Prediction: 93-91 for Boston
The Indiana Pacers have failed to live up to their high expectations so far. The Bulls are treading water while they await Derrick Rose’s return in 2013. The Bucks have taken advantage and seized an early lead in the division. This game serves as a warning to the rest of the Central Division – these Bucks are here to stay.
Keys to Victory: Joakim Noah will need a monster game to overcome the Bucks’ legion of shot-blockers (Larry Sanders, Samuel Dalembert, Joel Przybilla, and Ekpe Udoh). Milwaukee needs to control the tempo (they rank 1st in pace). Brandon Jennings can continue his strong candidacy as Most Improved Player by scoring 30 on the Derrick Rose-less Bulls.
Prediction: 96-84 for Milwaukee
Sunday, November 25 – San Antonio Spurs (8-2) vs. Toronto Raptors (2-7)
Upset special of the week! Every season the Raptors pull off an upset at home vs. a Western Conference power (2012 – Denver; 2011 – Oklahoma City Thunder; 2010 – San Antonio; 2009 – San Antonio; 2008 – San Antonio). Notice a certain team popping up several times? Toronto ranks 5th in turnovers and can very well win the turnover battle – which was the Achilles Heel in both of San Antonio’s losses this season.
Keys to Victory: Tony Parker needs to take advantage of the absence of Kyle Lowry and torch Jose Calderon for 25 & 10. This is definitely a statement game for the Raptors’ defense. Using the crowd as a catalyst and reminding the Spurs why they finished last season in the top 10 in FG% and 3pt. FG%, Toronto is capable of pulling off the upset.
Prediction: 98-93 for Toronto
Last week: 4-3
Season record: 9-4
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