NBA Game Previews for January 22, 2017
January 22, 2017 at 12:00 PM ET
Struggling Magic Host Surging Warriors
By Joel Bartilotta
The Orlando Magic host the Golden State Warriors at Amway Center on Sunday.
The Warriors (37-6) come into this matchup winning six-straight, as they continue to suffocate teams with their elite offense. Not only do they rank first in both points scored and assists, they're approaching an all-time record for assists by a team. The thing people don't realize about this team is just how good they are on defense though. Many look at the 105 points a game allowed as an average mark, but that's not the whole story. In fact, the Warriors currently rank first in defensive efficiency, which is more indicative of how good they are considering their pace. It's one thing to have the unquestioned best offense in basketball, but this team is a whole different animal with this sort of defense behind them as well.
The Magic (18-27) have lost nine of their last 12 games, as they continue to regress. This was supposed to be the season where all this talent gels and figures it out, but it simply hasn't been the case. The big issue with Orlando is their offense, as they currently rank 25th in scoring. That's the one thing that wasn't accounted for in the offseason, as there's very little in terms of shooting on this roster. What makes that even more worrisome is the fact that the defense hasn't been as elite as expected either, ranking 16th in points allowed. This front line of Serge Ibaka, Nikola Vucevic and Bismack Biyombo were supposed to stifle opponents this season, but it just hasn't worked for one reason or another. No one doubts the talent of this core, but one has to wonder how much longer they'll keep it together, if they continue to struggle like this.
Posted on January 22, 2017 at 12:43 AM ET
Updated on January 22, 2017 at 12:45 AM ET
January 22, 2017 at 3:30 PM ET
Mavericks Host Lakers
By Joel Bartilotta
The Dallas Mavericks host the Los Angeles Lakers at American Airlines Center on Sunday.
The Lakers (16-31) have lost 21 of their last 27 games, as they continue to falter on defense. In fact, they now rank 27th in points allowed, which is actually an improvement on last seasons ugly ranking. That's the simple nature of a young team though and it's unclear if this roster has the capability to be good enough on defense to win games consistently. What's also discouraging is the fact that D'Angelo Russell (calf) got injured in the teams most recent win, as he's expected to miss this game against Dallas. It's been an up-and-down season for the top-pick and they need to get him more reps to see exactly where his progression is. Julius Randle has been progressing nicely though, as he's established himself as the Lakers most valuable player this season.
The Mavericks (14-29) are slowly climbing back into the playoff hunt, as they find themselves within four games of the eight-seed in the west. It's the crafty veterans that have revived the season, with Deron Williams, Dirk Nowitzki and Wesley Matthews finally finding their form. There are some seriously glaring weaknesses though, as this team ranks dead-last in both points scored and rebounding. The obvious reason for that is the lack of frontcourt depth, as an aging Nowitzki is the only frontcourt player who has any legitimate post game. With how aggressive owner Mark Cuban can be, it wouldn't be a shock to see him add to that frontcourt in the upcoming trade deadline, as he'll want to give these veterans one final push at the playoffs.
Posted on January 22, 2017 at 12:54 AM ET
Updated on January 22, 2017 at 1:01 AM ET
January 22, 2017 at 6:00 PM ET
Raptors Look To Avoid Third Straight Loss
By Dan Bruno
The Toronto Raptors look to avoid as third straight loss, as they play host to the Phoenix Suns, at Air Canada Center on Sunday evening.
The Raptors (28-15) are coming off one of their worst losses of the season, as they were stifled in Charlotte on Friday, where they fell 113-78. The Raptors were outscored 58-30 in the second half, as they were simply not able to keep up with the buzzing Hornets. Kyle Lowry tallied 24 points, while DeMar DeRozan followed up with 23, but they did not have much help, as most of their supporting cast went missing. The Raptors have been with out Patrick Patterson for over a week now and really miss the big man, especially on the defensive end, where he provides a lot of intensity and hustle. The Raptors will look to get back on track, as they enjoy playing at home, where they are 15-6 on the season. Patterson (knee) and Lucas Nogueira (concussion) both remain questionable for action on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the Suns (14-29) are coming off a 107-105 win in New York against the Knicks on Saturday. They narrowly escaped with the win, after a Carmelo Anthony, would-be, game-winning three-pointer went in and out at the buzzer. Devin Booker finished with a team-high 26 points in the win, including some clutch shooting down the stretch. Booker has been solid lately, scoring 20 or more in his last eight games, including two back-to-back 39-point performances. Thanks to his recent streak, Booker now averages 20.4 points per game, which ties Eric Bledsoe for the team-high. The Suns already defeated the Raptors once this season but that was in Phoenix. This time they will have to overcome the challenge of playing on the road and on the second night of a back-to-back.
Posted on January 22, 2017 at 1:27 AM ET
Updated on January 22, 2017 at 1:34 AM ET
January 22, 2017 at 7:00 PM ET
Timberwolves Look To Stay Hot At Home
By Dan Bruno
The Denver Nuggets face the second night of a back-to-back, as they visit Minnesota to take on the Timberwolves at Target Center on Sunday evening.
The Nuggets (18-24) are coming off an impressive 123-98 home win over the Clippers on Saturday, where they led by as many as 35 points, before settling on the 25-point win. Six players scored in double digits for the Nuggets on Saturday, including Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler and Will Barton, who all finished with 18 points, while Nikola Jokic was the high-point man in the win, with 19. Unfortunately for Denver, the injury bug continues to be a problem, as Emmanuel Mudiay was forced to leave the game early, after he aggravated his back. He will be questionable for action on Sunday. The Nuggets have won four of their last five games and are 8-13 on the road, heading into Sunday's contest. They still hang on to the eighth spot in the West and need to keep up the wining trend in order to keep their spot.
Meanwhile, the Timberwolves (15-28) are also coming off a win over the Clippers, however theirs took place on Thursday. They managed to come away with a 104-101 win in Los Angeles thanks to some major clutch shooting by Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns finished with 37 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in the contest, while Andrew Wiggins followed up with 27 points, four rebounds and four assists. The Timberwolves are 3.5 games behind the eighth place Nuggets, after winning four of their last six games. They have won their last three games at home, where they are 9-13 this season. They will need more strong performances from the young stars in order to have any hope at staying in the race for eighth. Ricky Rubio (personal) is set to mis Sunday's contest, leaving Tyus Jones and Kris Dunn in charge of the point.
Posted on January 22, 2017 at 1:46 AM ET