This week in the NBA: Welcome to London
Charlie Dear | 14 January 2019
Odds and review of the NBA action
Another week down as the season prepares itself for the annual jaunt across the Atlantic and rocks up in London on Thursday.
There’s been some cracking matches played in the English capital and now it’s the turn of New York Knicks and Washington Wizards.
Both sides are looking to put a string of wins together in the Eastern Conference with the likes of Bradley Beal and Kevin Knox on show.
However, there’s been some stand out performances from the last week, we wouldn’t let slip under the radar either.
James Harden’s in Beast Mode
After a slow start for player and team, this has been the month – let alone the week that James Harden has turned up!
The current MVP has rekindled Houston Rockets play-off hopes in the last 15 games. Since dropping 50 points on LA Lakers last month, his average points-per-game reads 40.5. He’s teamed this with 7.3 rebounds per game and 9.5 assists.
They’re like stats from a video game rather than real life.
It doesn’t stop there, he’s netted four 40-point triple doubles (points,rebounds,assists) this season – the rest of the entire NBA field has one combined.
What’s scary is he’s doing it without his right-hand man Chris Paul. Harden is now favourite to claim back-to-back regular season MVP titles.
He even netted 38 points in his sides defeat to Orlando Magic last night.
If you love the game, you love James Harden.
Keeping pace with Indiana
It’s hard to take the focus away from the same names in the game week on week. But sometimes a team or player comes along and snatches your attention.
This week has been all about Indiana Pacers. Led by the exciting point guard Victor Oladipo, the Pacers have raced to wins over Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks this week.
They now have the third-best record in the East and face lowly Phoenix Suns in a cross-conference clash next.
It all starts in defence for Indiana. The Pacers have the second-best defensive record in the NBA, trailing only to Oklahoma City Thunder.
This combined with having the third-most steals per game and keeping opponents off the free three throw line all proves this team could become a serious problem.
How to solve a problem like the 76ers
This is a good problem, but a problem nonetheless. The arrival of Jimmy Butler from Minnesota Timberwolves has seen the Philadelphia-based side field an all-star line-up of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Butler.
For the most part, the trio have performed.
Simmons caused a stir earlier in the month by allegedly outing Butler as a potential problem to the team to ESPN.
This was followed by ‘elbow-gate’ with Simmons and Embiid appearing to clash after the latter took an elbow to the face from Simmons.
The Sixers are a solid outfit and are currently fourth in the East. But the team will have to iron out some flaws if they have designs of grabbing a first ring since 1983.
Big Talking Point
Is it worth tanking to get first pick on the draft?
The 2019 NBA Draft is still six months away but trading talk is beginning to get louder each week.
Two names that seem to be on everyone’s lips are RJ Barrett and Zion Williamson – both of Duke University.
Williamson is already being talked about as one of the greats of the NBA and he hasn’t even played a minute of professional basketball.
He’s averaging 21 points per game and 10 rebounds so far this season. The 18-year-old is ripping up so much that teams are debating whether to thrown in the towel so they can get the first pick.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith says they definitely should.
Cleveland Cavaliers are in ‘pole’ position for the right to pick first and need a focal point after losing LeBron James.
But the Knicks and Chicago Bulls are also in the position to target the pair.
This sort of thing can be frowned upon. But Williamson and Barrett are different and could become MVP-worthy ballers.
How to watch the NBA London Game
All eyes will be on the O2 Arena on Thursday night as two of the NBA’s most historic sides clash in London.
Watch all the action live from 7:45pm on Sky Sports Main Event or Sky Sports Mix.
Boston Celtics @ Brooklyn Nets – Celtics to win on match betting 8/11
Memphis Grizzlies @ Houston Rockets – Over 207 points in the game 10/11
Charlotte Hornets @ San Antonio Spurs – Spurs to win on money line 2/9
New Orleans Pelicans @ LA Clippers – Clippers to win -2.5 10/11
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing