Wed, Jan 11, 3:18pm by Staff Writer
Are the Cavs in danger of stumbling like the Warriors? Sure there will be a few hiccups on the road to the playoffs but they won’t stumble this week when they visit the Trailblazers. The Bulls will be looking to keep themselves in playoff contention against the Knicks in New York. We’ve run our eye over the mid-week games live on ESPN.
Cavaliers @ Trailblazers
Moda Centre, Portland – Thursday January 12, 2.30pm AEDT
TV: Live on ESPN
The Cavaliers’ offence is all about the big three. LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have all scored more than 25 points for three big wins this season. But things haven’t gone all their own way despite being 28-8, and they have relied more on James, who’ll again need to do the heavy lifting against a struggling Trailblazers side.
The Trailblazers have been unable to get any momentum all season but they are still a good bet to claim eighth spot in the Western Conference. The game against the Cavs is a big one, with a chance to get a win against the current NBA champs, they can enhance their playoff credentials.
Portland fans are hoping the franchise trade for Suns big-man, Tyson Chandler to help solve their issues with defence. Against the Cavaliers they will need to find a way to stop the Cavaliers offence. To take the workload off LeBron, the Cavaliers have just added Kyle Korver to their roster.
Portland will look to CJ McCollum to drive the offence after he had a career-high 43 points against the Timberwolves while Damian Lillard has been averaging 26.6 (PPG) and 6.3 assists per game despite missing a few over the festive season through injury.
The form of Irving and Love, plus the usual class of James should be enough for the Cavs here, especially with the Blazers on the quick back-up from the win against the Lakers on Wednesday (AEDT), where McCollum and Lillard both had big games.
If the Cavaliers can keep the turnovers to a minimum they should be able to close this one out with a close win.
BEST BET: Cavaliers to win at $1.50
Bulls @ Knicks
Madison Square Garden, New York – Friday January 13, 12.00pm AEDT
TV: Live on ESPN
Knicks fans have happily welcomed back Derrick Rose to the line-up after he went missing for the recent game against the Pelicans. With their playoff run on the line, the Knicks desperately need Rose to get out on court and Carmelo Anthony to get his temper under control. The Bulls game will be a watershed moment for the Knicks playoff chances.
Losing may build character for some but Knicks fans want to see that development kick-in at playoff time. A game against the Bulls could be the tonic to unify the team just in time for the business end of the season.
The Knicks need to find a way to put together a cohesive defence, which has been non-existent for the past month. Look for Rose to drive the offence with Brandon Jennings. Kristaps Prozingis will look to dominate the boards and could give the Bulls a few headaches.
The conversation for the Bulls has been centred around MVP for Jimmy Butler. Butler has had some big numbers this season, hitting 25 (PPG), his matchup with Anthony will go a long way to deciding this fixture. He sat out Tuesday’s 101-99 loss to the Wizards though illness but it hopefully return along with Dwayne Wade, who rested in that game as it was the second of a back-to-back for the Bulls.
The markets haven’t been released yet but expect the Bulls to have edge, with the Knicks on the back up form their game against the 76ers.
Butler’s likely return is key for the Bulls and with their bench finding some consistency then they could close out this game in the second half. I’m tipping the Bulls to turnaround their losing streak for a close win.
BEST BET: Bulls to win
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