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NBA Midweek Preview & Predictions (Wednesday) 

Milwaukee Bucks (2-0) vs Brooklyn Nets (1-2) 

The Bucks will get a chance to extend their unbeaten run to 3 when they host Kevin Durant and the Nets. They beat the Sixers by 2 points in their opening game & held Joel Embiid to just 15pts before blowing out the Rockets 2 days later. They’ve had 3 days to rest for this game, so it’s expected they have the slim edge in terms of health.  

The Bucks are the only team holding opponents to double digit scoring as they’ve given up just 96.5 PPG. They’ve been one of the best defensive teams in the early stages of the season with Giannis Antetokounmpo ranking 4th in Rebounds (12.5) & having a league high 0.292 in Defensive Win Shares while Brook Lopez leads the league in Blocks (3.5).  

The Nets lost to the Memphis Grizzlies despite Kevin Durant & Kyrie Irving each putting up 37 pts. Ben Simmons’s struggles continued as he fouled out for the 2nd time in just 3 games. He’s averaging just 5.7 PPG with 3.6 turnovers and 4.6 fouls in that period – he has 14 fouls & 17 pts as a Net.  

This is the type of game Giannis and Jrue Holiday live for. The chance to guard some of the best players in the league is something the Bucks duo relish and I expect big performances from both on both ends of the court.  




Cleveland Cavaliers (2-1) vs Orlando Magic (0-4) 

The Orlando Magic travel to Cleveland hoping of getting their first win of the season. Individually, they’ve had some exciting performances including Bol Bol’s 19 points, 5 Rebounds & 4 blocks effort against the Knicks.  

Their standout performer, by some distance, is Power Forward, Paolo Banchero, the #1 overall pick from the draft who is averaging 22.8 pts 7.5 rebounds & 3 assists. Banchero has looked nothing like a rookie and has already proven to be a handful for defenders.  

They’ll also be without Jonathan Isaac (knee), Jalen Suggs (ankle), Gary Harris (knee) & Markelle Fultz (toe). 

The Cavs should take this, though. Unlike the Magic who are still in their rebuilding process, the Cavs are expected to make a deep run in the playoffs. They’ve started the season well and lead the NBA in 3pt percentage (44.3%) and are 3rd in Field Goal percentage (49.2%). An important factor in Cleveland’s high efficiency on offense is the addition of Donovan Mitchell. The Guard attempts the 3rd most Field Goals per game (23.0) and is making 49.3% of them.   

In the last 4 meetings between these two sides, the home side has come out with the win and this trend is expected to continue.  




Detroit Pistons (1-2) vs Atlanta Hawks (2-1) 

The Atlanta Hawks’ idea to pair Dejounte Murray & Trae Young in the backcourt is paying off in the early stages. Trae Young leads the league in Assists (11.7) while Dejounte Murray leads the league in steals (3.3). Both teams are very identical in terms of points scored through the first 3 games (111.3PPG). However, Detroit’s’ points allowed (121 PPG) is the 5th worst in the NBA through 3 games and way worse than Hawks’ (110 PPG). 

The Hawks haven’t won in Detroit since October 2019 & in that period, the home side have won 4 straight. If the Pistons are to extend that record to 5 home wins, they’ll have to rely on their rebounding. They’re 6th in Rebounds (47.7) while the Hawks are 21st with 43.0. However, coming into this game just 24 hours after playing the Washington Wizards could take its toll on the hosts.  




New York Knicks (2-1) vs Charlotte Hornets (2-1) 

The Knicks have won 2 straight after losing to Memphis in OT of their first game. New PG Jalen Brunson is running the offense well and is averaging 17.7PPG & 7 APG while shooting 42% from 3pt range. For the Hornets, Jamaican international Nick Richards has been very impactful from the bench. The Center is averaging 15pts and 9 rebounds, a huge leap from the 3pts and 1.7 rebounds he averaged last season.  

Both teams rank in the top 10 of Points Per Game with Hornets in 3rd (122.3 PPG) while the Knicks are ranked 6th with 119PPG. Since neither team is exactly known for their defense, this could be a high scoring game.  




Toronto Raptors (2-2) vs Philadelphia 76ers (1-3) 

The 76ers finally got on the win column in a 120-106 victory over the Pacers. The main reason for their early struggle is ironically the return to form of James Harden. The former league MVP seems like his former self as he looks in shape and is scoring freely. However, his style of play comes with heavy ball usage which has starved Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey of touches.  

Embiid, who won the scoring title last season, is currently 14th with 26.8PPG and the MVP Runner-Up is looking like a shell of himself. However, this is still very early in the season, and we can’t read too much into that.  

The Raptors are giving their starters big minutes right away. Of the top 10 players who have averaged the most minutes so far, 3 are Raptors and Head Coach Nick Nurse is light on his rotation. One of the major problems they’ve had so far is their scoring which ranks 27th in the league (105 PPG). The Sixers aren’t much better. Their 107.5PPG is 24th and these two playoff hopefuls know they’re a long way from where they want to be. This has all the signs of a low scoring game.   




Chicago Bulls (2-2) vs Indiana Pacers (1-3) 

The Bulls had a very important win on Monday against the Boston Celtics at home – a win bound to breathe life into their early season. They were down by as much as 19pts in the 1Q but ended up winning the game 120-102. 5 different Bulls players had double figures in points, but it was 32-year-old center, Nikola Vucevic who bullied the Celtics all night with 23 rebounds to go with his 18 points. DeMar DeRozan is averaging a team high 26.6PPG while Zach Levine has 21.0 PPG.  

The Pacers aren’t a team that poses much of a threat. They’re on Wembanyama-Watch and we expect very little effort from them on road games. The one bright spot for them this season has been their 1st round pick Bennedict Mathurin. The Canadian Rookie Small Forward is averaging 22.2pts & 5.8 rebounds while shooting 43% from 3pt.  




Minnesota Timberwolves (2-2) vs San Antonio Spurs (3-1) 

The Timberwolves are having an adjustment period as they try to fit in Rudy Gobert and play in their new system with 2 premier bigs. There are some early signs of the team building a new identity as they lead the league in Rebounds (54.8) with Ruby Gobert averaging 15.3 RPG – a league high as well.   

Both teams played on Monday night with the Spurs winning 115-106. Rudy Gobert & Anthony Edwards both had off nights for the Timberwolves as 6 different players from the Spurs got double-digit points. Spurs’ ability to give that extra pass was one of the keys to their victory as they recorded 37 assists to Timberwolves’ 24 while also out-scoring them 60-40 in the paint. I suspect the Timberwolves would want revenge for this loss when they welcome the Spurs to Minnesota.  




Utah Jazz (3-1) vs Houston Rockets (1-3) 

The Utah Jazz have a 3-1 record much to the surprise of the entire NBA. After trading away most of their key players and accumulating 14 First Round Picks, they were expected to start tanking right away in a bid to be perfectly positioned for Victor Wembanyama, but they started the season with wins against the Nuggets, Timberwolves, and the Pelicans – 3 teams with ambitions of deep playoff runs. Their first loss came to the Rockets on Monday night over in Houston and now they get a chance to avenge that loss in Utah.  

The Rockets outscored the Jazz in all but 1 quarter during that game which finished 114-108. Three Rockets players had 20 pts or more in that win: Jabari Smith, Jalen Green & Kevin Porter Jr.  

Sadly, the highlight of that win was the verbal exchange between Jabari Smith and Jalen Green late in the 4th quarter. Thankfully, it didn’t escalate further and both men later played down the incident. Their records may not reflect it, but Rockets are the slightly better team or at least the team built to perform right now and will be favoured to complete the double over the Jazz.  




Denver Nuggets (2-2) vs LA Lakers (0-3) 

The Lakers aren’t as bad as they’ve been painted to be: they’re statistically one of the best defensive teams in the league. They’re 2nd in Defensive Rating (103.4) and lead the league in 3 other key defensive categories; steals (11.3), opposition points in the paint (37.3) and opposition turnovers (20.0).  

Their biggest problem has been their historically bad offense where they rank 30th in both Offensive Rating (97.2) and 3pt% (21.2). Despite their lack of shooters, they keep shooting. They’ve attempted 118 shots from beyond the arch and have made just 25 of those. Former league MVP Russell Westbrook might be the face of the team’s struggle but it’s a problem that every person in that organisation has a hand in.  

The Nuggets have been blown out in their 2 losses so far; to the Jazz and to the Trail Blazers. Reigning league MVP had a night to forget in the loss to the Trail Blazers recording a rather unusual 9/9/9 stat line. He’ll want to bounce back and what better opponent than the King, LeBron James – who, in year 20, is already averaging an impressive 27/11/7. Due to the mixed blessing of Russell Westbrook being out through a hamstring injury, the Lakers should play much better and perhaps, an upset could be on for the Purple and Gold to record their first win of the season.  




Portland Trail Blazers (4-0) vs Miami Heat (1-3) 

The Trailblazers are 4-0 to start the season for the first time since the 1999-2000 season when they famously reached the Western Conference Finals. After a season plagued with injuries, Dame Lillard is back lighting up the league and is already averaging 33.3 pts through 4 games. However, it’s his growth as a leader that has been the most admirable thing about him this year. The confidence he continues to instil in his teammates especially Anfernee Simons has been a key to their brilliant start. In their blowout win against the Nuggets, Simons had 22 pts in the 3Q going 8-9 from FG and 6-7 from 3PT.  

On the other hand, the Heat are having a slow start to the season with 3 losses to Eastern conference rivals Bulls, Celtics & Raptors. The loss of PJ Tucker has had an impact on their defense. They rank 29th in steals & are surprisingly last in blocks despite having Bam Adebayo, one of the best Big Men in the league. They have a 110.7 Defensive Rating which is 18th in the league, a significant drop from last season when they ranked 4th overall. They travel to Golden State next, and a 1-5 record is a possibility if they don’t turn things around fast.  


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