HEAT V RAPTORS

Miami has been unbeaten in all their last five games, but this hardly-earned unbeaten streak could be in danger as they will face the Raptors on Thursday.

Miami defeated Orlando 115-91 last Sunday at the Amway Center. Tyler Johnson contributed 25 points for the team to take the lead in the game. Justise Winslow complemented TJ’s performance with the seven points he made during the fourth to make sure Orlando will not make any magic to catch up with the Heat. Off the bench, Dwayne Wade had 10 points and four assists that Sunday night.

Prior to that, Heat beat Milwaukee Bucks 94-87. They also won against Houston Rockets 101-99 last Friday, and the Pelicans 102-96 last week. The Grizzlies too were not spared by the Heat when Memphis lost 100-97 in a Saturday night.

Miami might be in a handicap on this Thursday as their upcoming rivals Toronto stands top of the Eastern Conference. One of Heat’s top players Goran Dragic might also miss the match as he is expected to be out for eight weeks after undergoing anthropic surgery on his right knee. Dragic is expected to play again on February, almost a month from now.

The Raptors are not expected to lose a bit of form so far. They lost to the 76ers 126-101 last Sunday, and to Denver Nuggets 86-95 last week. They also been defeated by Portland Trail Blazers 122-128. These losses do not suggest a decline in performance, but rather an indication that Toronto could only be beaten by the league’s top teams so far.

In addition, the Raptors also made a 99-96 win over the Pacers last Thursday with Kawhi Leonard making 28 points. Fred VanVleet also hit a g-ahead 3-pointer with 25 seconds left that night.

BULLS V TIMBERWOLVES

The Timberwolves are not good travelers this season after losing 13 of their 16 games away from home. But Minnesota will not be going to Chicago with low spirits on Thursday as they are able to gain a 114-112 victory over Oklahoma City Thunder last Sunday, breaking a 12-match away losing streak in the Western Conference.

Timberwolves lost 124-98 to the Spurs last Saturday, and 129-123 to the Pistons last Thursday, but they are able to score a 132-105 victory against the Kings last week where Andrew Wiggins shot 17 points.

Thursday appearance of point guard Derrick Rose is deemed questionable due to a sore in his left ankle.

The Wolves are currently recovering from a four-game losing streak that was capped last weekend. First, they lost to Trail Blazers 113-105, then to the Warriors 116-108. Their third lost was a 141-130 to the Kings, then a 107-99 to the Suns. Nonetheless, they have since recovered as their win over Kings ended the streak.

Chicago, on the other hand, also suffered from a losing streak. Their last match with the Celtics ended in a 133-77 lost of the Bulls with a hugely significant point deficiency. They also lost to the Kings with a 108-89 tally, again with a notable deficiency. They did better in their match with Magic albeit the game concluding in a 97-91 Chicago loss.

The Bulls have since recovered though, winning 98-93 against the Spurs. They initially lost 121-96 to Thunder, and 96-93 to the Nets, but they won 90-80 against Magic, and a 112-92 over the Cavaliers.

Chicago would be hoping to cap a winning streak, but Minnesota has beaten the likes of Thunder and Kings that are way higher than them in the Western Conference. Given the Timberwolves’ show of great strength in their recent matches with higher ranking teams, they would pose a serious threat to the Bulls’ recovery.

CLIPPERS V KINGS

Stephen Curry built up 42 points leading the Golden State into a 129-127 win over Los Angeles Clippers last Sunday. But casting aside this Warriors flex on LA, the Clippers are doing fine so far. Prior to their Golden State match, the Clippers humiliated the Denver Nuggets, winning 111-132 with Tobias Harris scoring 21 points compared to the 19 point from Nikola Jokic.

The Clippers’ win over the Nuggets was quite a strong filler after their four-match losing streak. Toronto scored 123-99 over the Clippers earlier this month. Spurs also beat them with 125-87. The run was completed when they lost to Thunder, then stretched more to their defeat to the Trail Blazers. The run was only broken by their 125-121 victory against Mavericks.

Meanwhile, Sacramento is doing better than the Clippers, having recorded their last losing streak from the previous month. The losing streak was then filled by an excellent winning run after the Kings scored a 111-110 win over the Pacers, then a 122-105 against the Suns, and a 129-110 victory in their match with the Cavs.

The Kings recently won 102-99 over the Grizzlies, and 122-117 against the Pelicans, and they will be hoping to complete their second winning streak for the month. Sacramento’s Thursday rivals, however, are not expected to lose form.

The Clippers will be flexing their win over Denver, but they will not be flexing in vain as premier player Tobias Harris is still averaging 21.6 points and 8.2 rebounds a game, while the Kings’ Buddy Hield is slightly yet significantly handicapped at 20.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per match.

In addition, LA clippers are two steps above Sacramento in the Western Conference.

By @FitsEly

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