Boston on top, Bucks without Giannis, Heat sizzling – NBA talking points for live Sky Sports action – Sky Sports

From the Milwaukee Bucks vs the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Boston Celtics vs the Toronto Raptors, we look at the stats, information and TV coverage ahead of this weekend’s stacked live NBA schedule.
By Maryam Naz
Thursday 19 January 2023 10:45, UK
Ahead of a weekend of live NBA on Sky Sports, we’ve taken a look at the big names and big games, and how things might unfold, from the Boston Celtics’ dominance atop the Eastern Conference, to the Miami Heat’s defensive efficiency.
Where to watch: Sky Sports Arena HD (00:30)
The Cleveland Cavaliers were narrowly edged by the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night, but perhaps they won’t be as aggrieved considering that they met the same fate that all of the Grizzlies’ recent opposition have.
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That, plus the absence of All-Star contender Donovan Mitchell who sat out with a strained groin as his side lost 115-114.
Whether Mitchell will return this weekend will be key, especially against a Milwaukee Bucks side proving to be just as unpredictable.
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Indeed, the Bucks have been without Khris Middleton, and more importantly their talisman Giannis Antetokounmpo for four games now as the ‘Greek Freak’ continues to nurse a sore right knee. Without him leading the charge, they’ve struggled for points, losing twice against the Miami Heat by 22 points across a two-game series.
Their saving grace has been the rise of Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez. Both have taken the baton off Giannis and proved to be every bit as effective in scoring, with Holiday levelling 35 against the Indiana Pacers, before churning out 37 a night later.
Alongside him, Lopez has been one of 11 players across the league who’ve shot 50 per cent or better on at least 25 clutch shots.
Continue in this vein, and the duo could lift their team to yet another win.
Where to watch: Sky Sports Arena HD (22:00)
The Celtics are in clear control of the Eastern Conference and they’re starting to flex their proverbial muscles.
Now three games ahead of everyone in the loss column, and having notched big wins against key rivals, it’s open waters from here on.
The two leading the mount, Jayson Tatum, and Jalen Brown, have been pivotal in the Celts’ scoring streak, with the side hitting more than 120 points per 100 possessions across their winning streak. Sixth Man of the Year contender Malcolm Brogdon, however, warrants a mention, averaging 19.2 points per game coming off the bench.
His contributions may be needed this Saturday, as it’s quite possible Boston will be looking to rotate against a respectively weaker opposition in the Toronto Raptors.
Indeed, the Raptors have impressed recently offensively, scoring 132 points per 100 possessions over a two-game series with the Charlotte Hornets. Pascal Siakam was particularly lucrative, totalling 62 points across the fixtures.
But the starters otherwise have been flat, and it’s been a tough case to limit the minutes of Gary Trent Jr. and Fred Van Vleet. Expect another win for Tatum and co.
Where to watch: Sky Sports Arena HD (20:30)
These two have already played this week, and it was the Miami Heat who put on a blistering 124-98 display.
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Bam Adebayo scored 26 points, Jimmy Butler added 18 and Gabe Vincent hit four three-pointers as part of a 16-point night for the Heat.
Despite the fact that the Heat have only had their preferred line-up for 14 of their 44 games this season, they sure are putting on a show for their fans and becoming less reliant on their star players. Adebayo, in particular, has been a silver lining, as evident in his performance against the Bucks.
If the Pelicans are to avenge themselves, it seems CJ McCollum will be the player to instigate it.
He was the top scorer in the reverse tie, scoring 21, and is averaging 29.4 points per game as one of seven players who’ve shot 40 per cent or better on three-pointer attempts.
Given that the Pelicans are without power forward Zion Williamson, have lost seven of their last 10 games, and are coming up against the league’s second-ranked defence, there’ll be very little margin for error for McCollum and co. Expect the Heat to pull through again.
Where to watch: Sky Sports Arena HD (23:00)
If there ever was a team so consistent in their inconsistency, it’s the New York Knicks. Indeed, although they’ve had one of the league’s easiest schedules, it’s always quite difficult to believe whether any winning or losing streak is going to last or fluctuate.
The Knicks had a good run of wins against the Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards and Detroit Pistons, but then they fell again to the Bucks and then the San Antonio Spurs.
It’s not for a lack of trying, especially with Julius Randle powering through the points, averaging 24.4 points per game.
With the Raptors playing back-to-back games, the opportunity for a more substantial Knicks win is definitely on the card.
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