Talking points ahead of this weekend's live NBA action on Sky Sports – Sky Sports

From the Brooklyn Nets vs the Miami Heat to the Orlando Magic vs the Golden State Warriors, we go into detail on all the stats, information and TV coverage ahead of this weekend’s stacked live NBA schedule
By Maryam Naz
Thursday 5 January 2023 09:43, UK
Sky Sports’ weekend NBA action is just around the corner, so we’ve taken a look at the teams involved, the permutations, where you can access coverage and live streams, and so much more…
Where to watch: Sky Sports Mix and Sky Sports Arena (11pm)
The San Antonio Spurs will need to take a page out of Oklahoma City Thunders’ book if they are to find a way to defeat the Boston Celtics this weekend.
Indeed, Mark Daigneault’s team beat the top seed in the Eastern Conference 150-117 on Tuesday night, without their talisman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. They went on to set a franchise point record, with four players racking up 20+ points.
It’s quite the defeat to dish out to arguably the league’s best team, but the Celtics haven’t been helping themselves, especially with the recent drop off in their three-point shooting.
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They had been shooting at 40.9 per cent in the opening stretch of the season, but in the pre-Christmas slump, fell to 32.5 per cent. Sprinkle in some mid-range regression, and you provide opposing forwards with the hope of springing traps within the paint.
Can the Spurs use this to their advantage? They were unable to demonstrate as such against the New York Knicks, with Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle scoring freely from all angles of the court.
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More worryingly, they were unable to finish their own chances. Spurs had several chances to net a three-pointer and take the game to overtime against the Knicks in the fourth quarter and failed to do so – something they cannot afford against MVP contender Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown.
The Celtics should be able to secure victory on this occasion, but Gregg Popovich will not make it easy for them.
Where to watch: Sky Sports Arena (01:30am)
Here’s a question to consider: what happens when a Stephen-Curry-less Golden State Warriors locks horns with an Orlando Magic side missing four suspended players after their brawl in last week’s game versus the Detroit Pistons?
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Well, the fact that the former still won against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night should serve as a reminder that though they are undermanned, Paolo Banchero is still capable of making game-changing plays.
The rookie forward snapped up 25 points, eight rebounds and seven assists that evening, with Gary Harris and Terrence Ross each adding 18 points too.
All this scoring makes you wonder where this version of the Magic has been hiding. Will they be able to get past the Dubs, and Draymond Green’s impeccable defending? The Warriors have only allowed 96.9 points per 100 possessions in the big man’s last 132 minutes.
They may have the means to keep Banchero quiet, but they will have to find a way to rev up their own attack after the midweek defeat to the Pistons.
It was Saddiq Bey who sunk a three-pointer with 2.3 seconds left on the clock, sealing the Warriors’ fate. Clutch moments have been close encounters for Steve Kerr’s side. If the Magic can keep firing away in the fourth quarter, they may just have the opportunity to deliver another blow to their opponents’ waning playoff hopes.
Where to watch: Sky Sports Arena (8:30pm)
The Raptors are in trouble, and they know it. With 18 different starting line-ups in their last 36 games – and still searching for answers – there’s no way they will be able to fight off a fit Damian Lillard and Pascal Siakam, right?
Well, the Blazers’ 106-113 defeat to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night might provide some insight into how to dismantle a team operating with the league’s most improved defense.
For starters, get yourself an Anthony Edwards and Rudy Gobert. These two really did the bulk of their damage against the Blazers in the fourth quarter, but more compellingly, by dominating the rim and rebound defence, instigating quick attacking patterns in the process.
Though Lillard and co have developed more strength in how to combat teams such as the Raptors, it’s clear that there are still some issues to smooth out in the clutch moments.
Expect a tense game this weekend, that the Blazers will edge with their superior fitness and physique.
Where to watch: Sky Sports Arena (11pm)
All good things must come to an end. If you’re a Brooklyn Nets fan, it won’t be an especially thrilling feeling having had your 12-game win streak snapped by the 17-21 Chicago Bulls. Especially when one of your star players, Kevin Durant, put up 44 points.
It was a strange defensive display on Wednesday night from the Nets, who gave the Bulls all the space and time in the world, allowing DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Williams to each score 22 points as they attempted to hit their opponents on the counter. Instead, what unravelled was a free-scoring contest, which the Bulls edged 121-112.
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This weekend’s opposition, the Miami Heat, are in the troublesome position of being the first team Durant and co will play on the other side of that memorable defeat. And if stats are anything to go by, it could be a long evening at the FTX Arena.
For starters, the Nets have a ruthless efficiency when it comes to shooting, finishing on over 40 per cent of their shots from the deep. Kyrie Irving has led that charge, especially in fourth quarters, giving his team one of the best clutch rates in the league.
The Heat, however, are the best clutch team in the league. Combine that with their impressive turnover record and you get a thrilling affair.
Our projections point to another late win for the Brooklyn Boys.
Click here to check out our 2023 All-Star predictions
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