RAPTORS V PACERS

The Pacers will face the Raptors at Toronto this coming Thursday. The game would surely add more fuel to the heat of this season’s exciting action and drama  in the Eastern Conference.

Indiana is currently sitting third in the East, while their upcoming rivals Raptors are the top of the conference. Pacers are one of the biggest teams today with their outstanding 20 wins.

Impressively Indiana’s last seven games were all wins. Last Monday, they owned the New York Knicks to 110-99, while they beat the 76ers last Saturday. They went 113 against Malwaukee’s 97, and 109 to Washington’s 101. They also defeated the Kings and Magic.

Despite playing in limited minutes, Victor Oladipo still contributed 12 points in the Pacers’ 113-97 victory over the Bucks five days ago. The premier Indiana player is still averaging 20.8 points a game. Oladipo came back from a knee injury after being absent in over eleven games.

Despite Oladipo’s absence, the Pacers still pulled off one of the best performances in the league season so far. Players such as Bojan Bogdanovic and Myles Turner are excellent players themselves. Bogdanovic currently averages 16.5 points per game, while Turner has 12.7 as well as 6.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks.

Toronto on the other hand has been terrifying former giants in the conference, as well as in the league as a whole. They are the only team so far with 23 wins already.

Although the Raptors are defeated in their last matches with the Nuggets and Trail Blazers, they beat the Golden State to a 113-93 last Thursday. In the previous month they also beat the Warriors 131-128.

They are already successful in the season so far, but they are currently struggling with a surge of injuries. Jonas Valanciunas went into thumb surgery last thursday and was expected to miss at least four weeks worth of matches. While Pascal Siakam will be with the squad on Thursday, he will miss the Sunday play against the Nuggets.

Raptors’ biggest Kawhi Leonard does most of the team’s job with 26.3 per game average, complemented by Pascal Siakam 14.4 points.

This clash of the giants in the Eastern conference is a sure must watch that people would not want to miss.

ROCKETS V WIZARDS

James Harden’s controversial step-back jumper is one of the most hotly debated topics in the league. Harden getting free throws with 54.6 seconds was the consequence of a missed travel time at such a critical moment. He nevertheless scored 47 points and Houston hold off Utah to a 102-97.

The Rockets are currently in a winning streak. Before their victory over Jazz, they scored 105 to 97 against the Grizzlies last Sunday. They also defeated the Lakers 126-111, and the Trail Blazers 111-104 last Wednesday. They are doing fine so far today, but their current season is regularly plagued with losing streaks. They went to a three-time losing streak to Timberwolves, Jazz, and Mavericks before their current unbeaten run. They also spent the last of November in a four time beaten run to the Pistons, Cavs, Wizards, and Mavericks consecutively.

Meanwhile Washington is sitting low in the Eastern Conference at fifth to the last. Last Saturday, they fell to Brooklyn 118-125, and to Boston Celtics 130-125 before that. They also lost to the Cavaliers and Pacers. It was a four-time losing streak.

However, the Wizards stunned the Lakers last Monday, scoring 128-110. John Wall dominated in that match giving off a brilliant 40 points, 14 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks, driving past LeBron James’ 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, a block, and zero steal.

Needless to say, Los Angeles Lakers are doing fine sitting fourth in the Western Conference. It was one hell of a week for them after LeBron and Lonzo Ball each made a triple-double in LA’s win over the Hornets.

A match with the Lakers will be a tough one for the Rockets, but the LA fall to the Wizards proven that they are at least beatable. Mix this up with James Harden’s strength and Houston could surely make a dance with one of the West’s strongest this season.

TRAIL BLAZERS V GRIZZLIES

Portland’s recent performance is quite disappointing, considering their top place ranking in the West after the 11-5 start. Now, they are sitting in the eighth place. They currently have just won five of their past 13 matches.

The Trail Blazers won 131-127 to the Clippers this Tuesday, and to the Raptors last Saturday. In the first week of the month though, they just completed a beaten streak after losing to the Mavericks 111-102, and to the Spurs and Nuggets before that. They also had a terrible defeat to the Rockets last Wednesday.

Portland’s upcoming rivals the Grizzlies are sitting directly on top of them in the West. Memphis just recently capped a losing streak after their 110-93 defeat to the Golden State. They also lost to Houston last Sunday, their common denominator with the Trail Blazers.

One perceived problem with Portland nowadays is that they are not taking out much players from the bench lately, despite having a strong reserve players, as shown in their win over Toronto on Friday. The reserved players scored an excellent 58 points that night.

The Grizzlies nevertheless are currently accumulating some strength after beating Portland last Thursday. They also emerged as victors in their match with New Orleans and LA Clippers.  

Marc Gasol declined in performance this month, averaging a mere 11.1 points and 6.1 rebounds, shooting 35.1% from the floor. The present action might be too much to Gasol’s 33-year-old leg. Gasol set aside, Mike Conley is currently taking the lead for the team with 20.4 points, 6.5 assists, and 3.3 rebounds a game.

Although Memphis is sitting at a higher tier than Portland in the East, Portland will be dominating the Thursday night with Blazer players showing more offensive strength than the guests. Damian Lillard for instance is averaging 26.9 points compared to Mike Conley’s 20.4.

When it comes to blocks, the difference between the two teams are not that significant with 1.8 from Memphis’ Jaren Jackson and 1.3 from Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic.

By @FitsEly

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