NBA Daily Preview, January 11: Toronto Rules
For now at least, the Raptors are still the second-best team in the East. The Raptors beat the Celtics by a score of 114–106 last night, shoring up their position as the two seed for the time being. This win should be taken with the caveat that that it was played in Toronoto: a game in Boston could have produced a much different outcome. However, the Raptors are still playing like a borderline-elite team and looked very impressive last evening.
The Jazz beat the Cavaliers last night, a good victory for a team still trying to break into the league’s upper echelon. Utah is currently tied for fifth place in the West right now, stuck in the Grizzlies/Thunder/Clippers morass. The Jazz’s ace in the hole is that this team hasn’t been fully healthy all year, and could be primed to make some noise in the standings at full strength.
I got both games right again last night, moving to 4–0 for this week so far. Tonight, ESPN has two fairly interesting games:
Memphis at Oklahoma City: Memphis
The Grizzlies are a half-game up on the Thunder in the standings right now, and tonight could be important for tie-breaking purposes in a few months. Even though the game is in Oklahoma City, I think that Memphis will get a key victory here. This team has been playing very well recently, and matches up fairly well against this opponent.
Cleveland at Portland: Cleveland
Portland needs every win it can get, but tonight is an unlucky draw. Few teams can exploit subpar defenses like the Cleveland Cavaliers, and tonight could end up being a nightmare for the Trail Blazers. If there’s any good news for Portland, it’s probably that this team is still the front-runner for the eight seed in the West. That may not be much of a consolation, though.