The Five Best NBA Games to Watch – January 5 to January 11

By Matthew Elliot,

There are certain games that coaches and players mark on their calendars to use as a measuring stick in regards to progress and overall success. It is difficult to say that players will give everything they have for each of their 82 games in a NBA season but we know these five games will bring All Star caliber competition to the hardwood this week. Here are the best 5 games to watch from January 5th to January 10th:
Thursday, January 5 – Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets: Russell Westbrook and James Harden are in a two man race for the MVP trophy this season. Both could drop a triple double with one arm if they wanted. The former teammates will be bringing individual offensive displays to the floor that young point guards across the nation will be tuning in to watch and take notes. Both coaches in this game are also top candidates for early coach of the year award. Billy Donovan and the Thunder remain a relevant team in the Western Conference after losing their best player in the offseason. Mike D ’Antoni is the main reason the Rockets offense is so scary because he has them spread the floor and let Harden conduct his symphony of scoring. This superstar matchup on Thursday night is must watch TV.

Tuesday, January 10 – Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors: Tuesday’s game in the Air Canada Centre is between two of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference. This meeting brings us a great backcourt matchup of Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley versus Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Both teams rank in the top 10 points per game this season (TOR – 111.2 points and BOS – 106.1 points) with each team using different offensive game plans. The Celtics leader is Thomas who can get into the lane every play and make a pass off a high pick and roll for an open three. Boston ranks 3rd in the league in assists with 24.9 per game. Toronto can score in bunches and is the second best 3-point shooting team in the league averaging 39.3% from beyond the arc. As long as DeRozan and his Raptors can get back on defense, they can live with a fast paced, high scoring game. Both teams have had a brutal stretch of away games last month and this game is no cake walk either.

Tuesday, January 10 – Cleveland Cavaliers at Utah Jazz: It may be insulting to compare Utah’s big 3 to Cleveland’s but it might not sound so crazy in 2-3 years. Defensive Player of the Year candidate, Rudy Gobert, has been patrolling the paint like a possessed man this season. Gobert has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in 22 straight games and is currently averaging career highs in rebounds, points, and blocks. Gordon Hayward hasn’t backed down from anyone since coming into the league and Tuesday will be no different. Hayward is shooting the ball well from outside but if he can drive the lane this game and get to the foul line consistently, his team will appreciate it. The last piece to Utah’s big 3 is at the point guard position, George Hill. A great acquisition that has struggled with injuries this year but can be that last player that makes Utah a real contender in the West.  Utah has the rebounding edge but the Cavaliers have the 3-point advantage. The Cavaliers front office has surrounded LeBron with outside shooters so Utah will have to decide if they want to defend inside or outside. The Jazz will need to decide to double team LeBron to force someone else to beat them or play good help defense and trust Hayward to not let the 12 time all-star blow by to the basket. Great matchups at each position in this battle.

Friday, January 6 – Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors: Memphis has the second best team defense only giving up 97.6 points per game. Golden State is the best offense in the entire league averaging 117.3 points per game. Something’s got to give in this Western Conference meeting. We know Memphis can slow down any game to get easy buckets by dumping the ball into Gasol and Randolph in the post or running the screen and roll with Conley. Golden State’s starting five is so quick and stable that opponents can lose the entire game in the first 10 minutes. You could take any one of the Warrior’s main 4 players off the team and they would still be considered championship contenders. Memphis will need Chandler Parsons to be in the zone as one of the off season’s biggest acquisition has been a bit of a fizzle so far. This game will have Golden State out of their comfort zone and Memphis scrambling to stick to their plan.

Saturday, January 7 – New York Knicks at Indiana Pacers:  Two sub .500 teams that are only 3rd in their respected East division’s does not sound like a great game to watch but this is a classic rivalry game that always brings out fireworks. Paul George has finally been playing up to his old self and should have at least 30 points. Carmelo Anthony will be trying to answer his production but the concern is always with Anthony’s defensive liability. The intriguing matchup in this game will be watching the bigs for each team. Kristaps Porzingis is a rim protector with length to go along with a plethora of offensive moves to score from wherever. Myles Turner is in his second year in the league and proving he is here to stay. The Texas native has great speed on fast breaks that has expanded his range to shooting over 40% from 3 point territory. Porzingis versus Turner is a bout that we will be watching for the next 10 years and we should appreciate these early battles in their young careers.

 

 

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