ROCKETS V CELTICS

The Christmas season was a thrilling time for the Celtics. Kyrie Irving scored 40 points for Boston in their match against the 76ers. The game concluded in a 114-121 victory for the Celtics.

Boston had just ended their three-game skid last Monday as they beat Charlotte Hornets to a 103-119. The skid involved a Boston defeat to the Bucks 120-107, 113-104 to Pistons, and even a 111-103 loss to the Suns in an inter-conference match in Thursday last week.

Nevertheless, the losing streak was only a brief interval as the Celtics had enjoyed an eight-match winning streak prior to that. They defeated the Pelicans into a 124-107 from the previous month. Then they won against the Cavaliers to 128-95.

Earlier this month, Boston also scored a 118-109 victory over Timberwolves, and a 128-100 win over New York Knicks. They also humiliated the Bulls in their 133-77 domination, followed by another win over the Pelicans. Their last two wins before the skid was a 13-125 over the Wizards, and a 129-108 against the Hawks.

The Celtics would be hoping to complete another winning streak in their upcoming match with the Rockets on Friday. The task would surely be an uneasy one as James Harden will still be out to the courts averaging 32.3 points a game. Harden’s stats are enough for Houston to make a strong flex to the Celtics and Irving’s 23.3 points per game.

Standing fifth in the Eastern Conference, Boston has an established image of superiority, compared to the Rockets’ 7th place in the West. But their loss to Phoenix betrays this.

Last Wednesday, the Rockets defeated Oklahoma City into a 109-113 with Harden scoring 41 points in the game.

Houston’s performance in their match with the Thunder, and Boston’s standing is enough to say that their upcoming Friday match will probably be one of the most thrilling games in the league season so far.  

KINGS V LAKERS

The Lakers stunned the Golden State last Wednesday with Kyle Kuzma making much of the points, while LeBron James making only 17 points and 13 rebounds as his best performance for that night.

Los Angeles lost LeBron in the third quarter after he strained his left groin. LA, nevertheless, scored a 127-101 win over the Warriors, despite Andre Iguodala making 23 points in the game. Prior to that, the Lakers lost to the Grizzlies 107-99 after LA beat the Pelicans 112-104. The Lakers also lost to the Nets 115-110 and to the Wizards 128-110. Earlier this month, they lost to Houston 126-111, while they beat Charlotte Hornets to 128-100.

Sacramento’s Buddy Hield, on the other hand, emerged as a potential All-Star as he scored 19 points in the Kings’ 102-99 win over Memphis Grizzlies last Friday at home. The young shooting guard is currently averaging 20.4 points, 2.4 assists, and 5.2 rebounds per game and he will be a significant force from Sacramento as they will face the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

Additionally, Hield peaked in performance in the Kings’ 117-122 win over New Orleans as he made 28 points in that match. Earlier this month, he also made 28 points in Sacramento’s 120-113 victory over Dallas Mavericks.

Hield will be complemented by teammate De’Aaron Fox’s 18.1 point a game average, and a 15.1 from Bogdan Bogdanovic. With LeBron out from the Friday match, an 18.1 point a game average from Kyle Kuzma will be the only numbers left to face the young Kings’ guard’s performance in progression. JaVale McGee who is averaging 2.6 blocks per game currently has a questionable appearance due to an illness.

WARRIORS V TRAIL BLAZERS

The Trail Blazers were proven not good travelers as they dropped 6-10 on the road with loss after a 117-96 defeat to Utah Jazz last Christmas day. Damian Lillard’s 20 points and 4 assists, and Jusuf Nurkic’s ten rebounds was not enough for retaliation after Portland also lost to Utah last Saturday in a humiliating 120-90 with thirty points of deficiency for the Blazers.

Before that Saturday night though, the Trail Blazers had just completed a winning streak as they beat the Grizzlies to a 99-92 score, avenging their 92-83 loss to Memphis prior to that. Earlier this month, they also made a 131-127 victory over the LA Clippers and a stunning 128-122 win against Toronto Raptors.

Meanwhile, expectations have been high for the Golden State in their race to the top of the Western Conference, but a 127-101 defeat to the Lakers have kept them from earning the topmost tier of the West, not mentioning their 108-103 loss to Utah Jazz.

Kevin Durant has been doing much of the job for the Golden State nowadays, now averaging 28.8 points a game, while Stephen Curry dropped stats to a 28.6. While contributing only 7.1 points per match, Warriors’ power forward Draymond Green has been doing much of the rebounds, assists, and steals with 7.9, 6.6, and 1.9 respectively.

Comparatively, Portland’s key players need a little catching up to do. Trail Blazers’ top scorer Damian Lillard is currently averaging 26.9 points per game, while CJ McCollum has 20.9.

Portland and Golden State had the same amount of wins and loses in their last five matches, and both lost in their latest match so far. The upcoming Friday match will surely break the balance in form for both of the teams.

By @FitsEly

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