NBA Week Preview
There is more midweek action in the NBA, with three huge games across the conferences as the season continues through the winter.
Washington Wizards vs Minnesota Timberwolves
First up, the Washington Wizards take on the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wizards sit seventh in the Eastern Conference, but come into this game on the back of some poor form.
They have lost their last two outings, against the Trail Blazers and the Hornets, and are looking to arrest what could well become a worrying slide. The Wizards could claim to be the most inconsistent team in the Eastern Conference – they undoubtedly have a talented roster, but do not seem to be able to put a sustained run of form together.
The Timberwolves, by way of comparison, sit fourth in the Western Conference and won their most recent encounter against the Phoenix Suns this past weekend. Their recent form has also been somewhat patchy, with two wins and two losses in their last four games, and this should make for a compelling contest.
The key strength for the Wolves is strength in depth; this is not a side which is prone to over relying on any single player. In that victory over the Suns, five players reached double digits with three scoring over 20 points, and that balance could help them get past the Wizards as well.
And owing to their recent form, not to mention a better balanced squad, it is the Wolves who should win this one. The Wizards have lost four of their last five and as they continue to look disjointed on the court their form is bound to suffer.
Odds: Washington Wizards (3.06), Minnesota Timberwolves (1.44)
Utah Jazz vs Denver Nuggets
Another intriguing match-up is that between the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets . Utah sit eighth in the Western Conference but can come into this contest brimming with confidence, having won their last two matches in a row.
Having faced a string of hurdles in the early part of the season Utah have more than held their own, and find themselves in a solid position after a quarter of the campaign. Their record stands at 9-11 after 20 games, but there is a feeling that now the team is finding their rhythm and can go from strength to strength.
The Nuggets, sitting slightly higher up in their respective table, are sixth in the Western Conference, having won two and lost two of their last four encounters. This past Saturday evening they saw their way past the Grizzlies in a 104-92 triumph.
However, the Nuggets have been dealt a serious blow by the news that forward Paul Millsap will miss several months of the season following surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left wrist. The Denver outfit are striving to make their first post-season appearance since 2013, and if they are to achieve that now then they will have to do things the hard way.
Yet it is the Jazz who currently look the stronger side and should take the points in this one as they continue their ascent up the Western Conference. Their form has been much improved of late and this looks to be a promising season for Utah.
Odds: Utah Jazz (1.81), Denver Nuggets (2.07)
Indiana Pacers vs Houston Rockets
And finally, the Indiana Pacers are set to do battle with the Houston Rockets. The Pacers are sixth in the Eastern Conference and come into this game with morale on a high, having won five of their last six contests.
They were, however, overcome by a strong Boston Celtics side, and their weaknesses were left exposed. If the Rockets play to a smart game plan and stick to it, they can inflict a second defeat in seven on the Pacers.
Encouragingly, the Pacers record currently stands at 11-9 after 20, and that loss to the Celtics should take nothing away from their excellent recent run of victories. If they can put that set back to one side they can give the Rockets a difficult evening in the extreme.
Houston, however, are quite simply in fantastic nick themselves. They currently lead the Western Conference and have won their last four matches on the bounce – this match looks to be a mouth watering prospect between two highly confident sides.
It has been a sensational start to the new season for the Houston outfit and, although this will be a severe test of their character, they should keep that run going. Their strength of character has also been on show; having fallen 20 points behind against the Knicks, they stormed back to record a win by a 15 point margin, and they should get one over the Pacers as well.
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