Surprise comebacks, fun with COVID-19 protocols, and surprise wins are all in store for this week’s catch-up on everything concerning the NBA and NFL.

NBA Standings & News to Focus On

  • Grizz defeat 76ers without Embiid, Memphis 4th in West NBA standings
  • Rox make huge comeback with win against Hawks
  • Celts get victory over Bucks, Middleton leaves game with knee injury
  • Two Bulls games rescheduled after 10 players enter COVID-19 health and safety protocols
  • Warriors get close two-point win over pacers, Curry now two three-pointers away from all-time record

Houston digs deep to get huge comeback victory over Atlanta

Houston proved that they’re no longer the laughing stock of the NBA. After an eyebrow-raising 15-game losing streak, the Rockets got their act together and reeled off an equally eyebrow-raising seven-game win streak. In Monday night’s road game against the Hawks, the Rockets pulled out one of the best comeback wins of the season and defeated Atlanta, 132-126.

At the end of the third quarter, the Hawks led the game 101-88 and things didn’t look so great for the Rockets. Atlanta’s Trae Young was on fire from the floor and looked unstoppable going into the last 12 minutes… or did he? The Rockets went bonkers and came back from 19 points down to not only outscore the Hawks 44-25 in the 4th quarter, but shut down Young’s three-pointers and alley oop lob attempts. In the end, Young finished with 41 points, but the Rockets’ Eric Gordon picked up 32 and D.J. Augustin chipped in with 22.

The Hawks, it seems, continue to have trouble sealing the game in the fourth quarter and now slip to 11th in the East NBA standings. Hopes were higher for a team that fought hard against Milwaukee in last season’s Conference Finals, but it could be that Atlanta needs more than miracles from Trae Young. John Collins was the next highest scorer with 14, but otherwise it feels a bit of a one-man army with the Hawks. Atlanta is still missing guard Bogdan Bogdanovic for the sixth straight game with a sprained ankle, but let’s see if the Hawks can claw their way up the standings after this disastrous performance.

NBA postpones two Chicago games due to 10 Bulls players in H&S protocols

It turns out you do actually need professional players to compete in an NBA game. In what should come as no surprise after 10 Chicago Bulls players were sidelined after entering COVID-19 health and safety protocols, the league has rescheduled two upcoming games.

Chicago’s matchups against Detroit and Toronto will be played at a later date to give the Bulls a chance to bring back healthy players and stop the spread of the virus. After forward Alize Johnson tested positive for the coronavirus, he joined an extensive list of players out of action for the same reason, including Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Troy Brown Jr., Coby White, Javonte Green, Matt Thomas, Derrick Jones Jr., Ayo Dosunmu and Stanley Johnson.

The Bulls were down to eight healthy players, which is the minimum required for an NBA game, yet most of those left on the roster are nowhere near the top-flight players we’re used to seeing. This break gives stars like LaVine and DeRozan, in particular, a chance to get back on the court and display the incredible form we’ve seen early in the season.  Despite the setbacks, Chicago remains second in the East NBA standings at 17-10.

The moment a player enters the NBA’s H&S protocols, they have to quarantine for 10 days until they deliver two negative PCR test results during a window of 24 hours. This is the first instance of the 2021-22 season where games have been rescheduled due to the pandemic.

Two Exciting NBA Games Coming Up

Warriors @ Celtics on Friday 17th December

By the time the Warriors face the Celtics on Friday, Steph Curry will most likely have scored two shots behind the arc to have the all-time record of made three-pointers, currently held by legendary sharpshooter, Ray Allen. Still, we don’t expect Steph to slow down any time soon and the Warriors will be a tough challenge for a Boston team still finding its identity.

The Celtics have renewed hope of moving away from 9th in the East NBA standings now that star guard Jaylen Brown is back from a hamstring injury. Brown’s ability to drive to the hoop and his outside shooting makes the Celtics a far more offensive threat alongside Jayson Tatum. We all know Tatum’s ability to score and rebound, as he’s currently averaging 26.2 and 8.6 per game, respectively, but hopefully the ability the co-exist with Brown can propel the Celtics to new heights. The “my turn, your turn” scoring option with Tatum and Brown won’t work forever.

The Celtics will put up a good fight, but against the Warriors? It’s going to be a Golden State win but there should be some positives for the Celtics to take away from this upcoming NBA game.

Cavs @ Bucks on Saturday 18th December

Don’t look now, but the Cavs are sneakily good. The LeBron Era in Cleveland is more than over, yet the team has displayed an exciting, up-tempo identity on the back of Garland, Allen, and Mobley’s performances. Even long-standing forward, Kevin Love, is helping out here and there as a threat in the post or behind the three-point line. Love is the only player left from Cleveland’s championship roster in 2016.

At 17-12, Cleveland has every chance to knock off the Bucks, especially now that Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton will be out with a worrying knee injury he suffered Monday night. The Bucks are still one of the title favorites, don’t get us wrong, but the Cavs are rolling and will take the victory in Milwaukee.

NFL Power Rankings & News

  • Cardinals lead the Power Rankings despite recent loss to Rams
  • Washington TE Logan Thomas has surgery on torn ACL, expected for start of 2022 season
  • 36 NFL players placed on COVID-19 list due to positive tests
  • Brady gets 700th career touchdown pass against Buffalo

Cardinals lose to Rams in thrilling Monday night football

Off the back of Matthew Stafford’s three touchdown passes, the L.A. Rams pulled out a huge 30-23 victory against Arizona on Monday. The 9-4 Rams played arguably the best game of their season and handed the Cardinals their third loss in this epic battle of two NFC West juggernauts.

While Stafford impressed with the aforementioned three TD passes and threw for 287 yards, it was also defensive tackle Aaron Donald who helped the Rams snatch the victory. Six-time All-Pro Donald ended the game with three hugely important sacks and was instrumental in stopping the Cardinals’ QB, Kyler Murray, from having his usual outstanding game. Two Rams touchdowns came from interceptions thrown by Murray.

L.A.’s offense looked better than ever and quelled the doubters especially in the third quarter, where the road team crushed the Cardinals 14-0. Rams’ wide receivers Kupp and OBJ also finished strongly, with Kupp ending with 123 yards, one touchdown, and a career-high 13 receptions, while Beckham Jr. grabbed six receptions and one touchdown.

L.A. got the much-needed win despite five players out of the game due to COVID-19 protocols, including cornerback Jalen Ramsey and tight end Tyler Higbee. The Rams are hovering around sixth place in our NFL Power Rankings but could easily jump up a spot or two with this type of performance in their upcoming matchups. Don’t expect the Cardinals to linger on this loss, however, as the team still looks like a Super Bowl contender this season.

Two Exciting NFL Week 15 Games Coming Up

Panthers @ Bills on Sunday 19th December

The Bills are on a two-game skid and could certainly use a win against the Panthers to get back on track. This NFL Week 15 matchup should very likely be a one-sided event with the 7-6 Bills stomping all over the 5-8 Panthers, who will struggle to score against an unrelenting defense. Bills QB, Josh Allen, is currently day-to-day with a foot injury that might be cause for concern, but it would still be hard to see Carolina taking the win even without Allen playing.

Packers @ Ravens on Sunday 19th December

The 10-3 Packers are holding firm to their fifth spot in the NFL Power Rankings, but will certainly meet their match when they travel to Baltimore for a key game against the 8-5 Ravens. Both team’s QBs are still coping with minor injuries, so don’t be surprised if Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Ravens’ Lamar Jackson aren’t performing at their usual best, or even play at all, for that matter.

The Ravens offense has been more miss than hit in the last month, and on the flip side, the Packers are averaging 37.3 points per game on offense in the last three weeks. Green Bay should grab this victory, but it’s going to be very close in an exciting NFL Week 15 matchup.

Author: Joe Garland