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NBA Preview: Raptors Go for Sweet 16, Best in the West Do Battle

The NBA is back with another busy 11-game night on Wednesday. All eyes will be on Brooklyn as the Raptors look to extend their incredible winning streak to 16 games. The Nets very nearly ended that streak when they met a few days ago and will be eager to get the job done this time around.

Meanwhile, LeBron James and the West-leading Lakers face a tough road test as they take on the current No. 2 seed, the Denver Nuggets.

Here’s SBOTOP’s quick guide to everything you need to know about all 11 of those games.

 

Atlanta Hawks @ Cleveland Cavaliers

Despite Trae Young (32 PPG in February) and John Collins (26.5 PPG, 11.3 RPG in February) putting up some impressive numbers, the Hawks are still struggling to string together wins. They have won back-to-back games just twice all season and remain second from bottom in the East.

Luckily, the NBA 2020 predictions like their chances of picking up another win as they face the struggling Cavs. After suffering their worst home loss in franchise history against the Clippers, the Cavs have now lost six games in a row and 13 of their last 14 games.

 

Detroit Pistons @ Orlando Magic

The Pistons continue to plummet down the standings. With top scorer Derrick Rose still out, they lost their third game in a row — and their ninth in 11 games — against the Hornets as they scored a season-low 76 points.

Their lack of reliable scoring will once again be a problem against the Magic, who finally snapped out of their recent slump (eight losses in their last nine games) by dropping 135 points on the Hawks. Nikola Vucevic came close to a triple-double with 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists, and is now averaging 20.8 points and 9.5 rebounds on 57 per cent shooting this month.

 

Milwaukee Bucks @ Indiana Pacers

Even with new dad Giannis Antetokounmpo out of the line-up, the Bucks just keep on winning. They won their fifth game in a row at home against the Kings. Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe each scored 28 points in Giannis’ absence, while big man Brook Lopez added 20.

Giannis Antetokounmpo will miss his 2nd straight NBA game after the birth of his son, Liam Charles
                                                           Despite missing the reigning MVP, the Bucks are backed to get the win

Giannis will once again miss out on Milwaukee’s trip to the Pacers, who have now lost six games in a row after a one-point loss at home to the Nets. That’s despite All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis recording his second triple-double this month and fourth of the season.

 

Washington Wizards @ New York Knicks

The Wizards ended their six-game homestand on a high with a 126-114 win over the Bulls last night. Bradley Beal led the way with 30 points as seven Wizards finished in double-digits. That includes rookie Rui Hachimura, who is averaging 15 points and 7.3 rebounds in four games since his return from injury.

They will look to continue their push for the final playoff spot in the East as they take on the Knicks, who saw their four-game winning streak snapped in a 140-135 double-overtime loss to the Hawks. Julius Randle continued his fine play of late with 35 points and 18 rebounds in a losing effort.

 

Toronto Raptors @ Brooklyn Nets

The Raptors have been simply unstoppable. Their amazing winning streak is now up to 15 games after beating the Timberwolves in D’Angelo Russell’s Minnesota debut. Pascal Siakam put up 34 points, while Rondae Hollis-Jefferson popped up with 21 as the Raptors continue to get great production from all across their roster.

The Nets will have the next crack at ending the Raptors’ incredible run. They very nearly ended it a couple of games ago, but they fell just short as they suffered a heartbreaking one-point loss at Toronto. Look for the Nets to put up another strong fight at home, where they have been significantly better this season, but the Raptors should still prevail.

 

Portland Trail Blazers @ Memphis Grizzlies

The Blazers were the unlucky victims of the Zion Williamson wrecking ball last night. The Pelicans rookie burned Portland for a career-high 31 points in just 28 minutes. Meanwhile, All-Star Damian Lillard once again struggled against Jrue Holiday’s defence as he finished with just 20 points and had only four 3-point attempts.

Even on the second night of a back-to-back, the Blazers should be hungry to bounce back against Memphis. The Grizzlies continued their fine play of late (seven wins in their last nine) with victory over the Wizards. Rookie sensation Ja Morant recorded his first career triple-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.

 

Charlotte Hornets @ Minnesota Timberwolves

The Hornets finally snapped their five-game losing skid with an ugly 87-76 win over the shorthanded Pistons. Miles Bridges led the way with 18 points as the starting backcourt of Terry Rozier and Devonte Graham struggled from the field (25 points on 10-of-30 shooting combined).

But Charlotte will face a harder test against the Timberwolves. D’Angelo Russell impressed with 22 points in his first game with the team against the Raptors and will be eager to lead the team to victory in his home debut.

 

Sacramento Kings @ Dallas Mavericks

The Kings’ mini three-game win streak was snapped as they fell on the road to a Giannis-less Bucks squad. Harrison Barnes led the way with 23 points in a losing effort.

They will look to bounce back right away as they face the Mavericks, who will finally get All-Star Luka Doncic back after a seven-game absence due to an ankle injury. However, the Mavs have struggled at home this season; they are just 14-14, the only current playoff team without a winning record.

 

Miami Heat @ Utah Jazz

The Heat finally put a mini three-game losing skid to bed by beating the league-worst Warriors at the Chase Center on Andre Iguodala’s homecoming. Jimmy Butler and Jae Crowder had a team-high 21 points apiece and Goran Dragic added 15 big points off the bench.

However, they will be hard-pressed to stop the streaking Jazz, who have now won three in a row after losing their previous five. Although, one of those was a controversial win over the Blazers. Sixth man Jordan Clarkson has continued to produce NBA 2020 highlights in Utah and is averaging 22 points on 55 per cent shooting over his last seven games.

 

Golden State Warriors @ Phoenix Suns

The Warriors have yet to pick up a win since trading for Andrew Wiggins. But their new recruit has played well in his two games thus far (21 points per game on 54 per cent shooting) against tough teams in the Lakers and Heat.

Golden State will get a good shot to return to winning ways as they take on the Suns, who have lost six of their last seven games. Devin Booker had one of his worst games of the season in their loss against the Lakers as he finished with a season-low 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting from the field.

 

Los Angeles Lakers @ Denver Nuggets

The Lakers have bounced back nicely from their loss to the Rockets with back-to-back wins over the Warriors and Suns. Anthony Davis took care of business with a double-double in both games, with LeBron James providing his usual overall brilliance.

The level of competition will jump up considerably, though, as the Lakers take on the Nuggets in the Mile High City. The Nuggets came back from 23 points down to beat the Spurs, which was their fourth win in a row. Jamal Murray has been the key catalyst for the Nuggets’ surge, with the point guard averaging 28.3 points on a blistering 59 per cent shooting over his last four games.

 

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