NFL POWER RANKINGS AND HOTTEST NBA NEWS IN MID DECEMBER
We’ve got age-old team rivalries, concerns for the future in Portland, and big news for Washington Football Team fans. Make sure you read all about the latest news and game previews for the NBA and NFL right here.
NBA Standings & News to Focus On
- Tatum scores 34 but LeBron and co. crush Celtics
- Jimmy Butler to miss games with tailbone injury
- Knicks stop three-game losing streak with victory over Spurs
- DeRozan out due to health and safety protocols
- Blazers’ McCollum sidelined indefinitely due to collapsed lung
- KD and Harden carry Nets to close win over Mavs
Lakers’ big three ball out for win over long-time rival
The age-old conflict between the Lakers and Celtics might have gone from burning hot to slightly warm since the last decade or so, but it’s nevertheless always enjoyable to see an NBA game with the famous jerseys of green and white versus purple and yellow.
In last night’s matchup, L.A. managed to hold off Boston for a healthy 117-102 victory at home. Things started out well enough for the Celts, as they entered the second quarter with a 33-31 lead – 14 of which came from Jayson Tatum in a blitzing scoring run to begin the game. If you didn’t check the highlights, then you’ve got to witness the Celts’ Robert Williams hammer down a truly thunderous alley oop dunk over Lakers’ big man Anthony Davis.
Then… things got a bit dicey. The Lakers outscored Boston 86-69 in the next three quarters from primarily their stars in Davis, LeBron, and Westbrook. LeBron shined with 30 points, five assists, and four rebounds, while Westbrook, who has taken a lot of heat since his trade to the Lakers, poured in 24 points from 9 of 16 shooting and also delivered 11 assists.
Despite Tatum’s 34 points, the Lakers were simply too big and too fast in the end, scoring 25 points from turnovers (Boston scored 17) and getting 66 points in the paint over the Celtics’ 42. Rebounds also killed the Celtics, as the Lakers destroyed the Celtics on the boards with 51 (16 from Anthony Davis alone) compared to Boston’s 34.
One huge shame about the matchup was the absence of Boston’s Jaylen Brown, who is still suffering from hamstring tightness and has missed three straight games. As talented as Tatum is, Boston can’t rely on one major offensive player and desperately need Brown back in the lineup to help spread out their scoring options. The Celtics remain 10th in the East NBA standings at 13-12, and the bad news is that there’s currently no timetable for Brown’s return to the team.
More drama in Portland after McCollum injury
Amidst all the spectacle in Portland right now, there’s also the problem of star guard CJ McCollum’s significant injury. McCollum was hurt in the Blazers’ embarrassing 145-117 defeat to Boston on Saturday and is now diagnosed with a collapsed right lung. He’ll be out indefinitely and reassessed in a few weeks. This injury is one of many in Portland, along with Lillard’s lower abdominal strain, Simons’ right ankle sprain, and Little’s left ankle sprain.
If that wasn’t enough, then there’s more off-court drama to keep Blazers fans up at night. Portland recently fired GM Neil Olshey for violations of the team’s code of conduct – something that has been simmering for several months and comes as no surprise. Then there are the trade rumors. McCollum has been linked to a trade with Philadelphia’s disgruntled star, Ben Simmons, way before the start of the season and this hasn’t changed.
Blazers franchise player, Lillard, is visibly frustrated with the team and tension with the front office and new coach, Chauncey Billups, is at an all-time high. Lillard would ideally like to stay and see roster improvements around him, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Portland tries to cash in on Lillard’s talent and trade him for new assets to start a rebuild.
Portland is 10th in the West NBA standings at 11-14, and even with a new coach and slight changes to the roster, are an average team with the prospect of not even reaching the playoffs based on current performances. February 10th is the NBA’s trade deadline, so we’re all waiting on bated breath to see if things are shaken up in Blazerland.
Two Exciting NBA Games Coming Up
Cavaliers @ Timberwolves on Friday 10th December
Even with the team’s season-ending injury to emerging point guard, Collin Sexton, the Cavs have still been rock solid, playing fun and fast basketball not seen in Cleveland for some time. Carried mostly by so-hot-right-now Darius Garland, rookie of the year lock Evan Mobley, and the hustling defense of Jarrett Allen, Cleveland is looking awesome again.
The Cavs will visit the Timberwolves, who at 11-13 and 9th in the West NBA standings, are still looking great thanks to KAT’s 24.3 PPG and 9.3 RPG. The Wolves are in need of a win and by playing at home, should get it against Cleveland, but this one will go down to the wire.
Warriors @ 76ers on Saturday 11th December
It’s the battle of the Curry brothers when the Warriors visit the 76ers on Saturday. Younger brother Seth is a lights-out shooter, but you just can’t ignore the season Steph is having with the Warriors. The team is 20-4 in the West NBA standings and is currently first in the league’s overall defensive rating and third in offense. Curry is averaging a wild 27.7 PPG and shooting a very respectable 43.9% from the field.
The 76ers are still getting their act together from many injuries and COVID-19 protocols, as well as missing Ben Simmons, who still refuses to play until he’s traded, so expect the Warriors to crush Philadelphia in a blowout win.
NFL Power Rankings & News
- Packers still ahead of Cardinals in Power Rankings
- WFT’s QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has season-ending surgery
- Ravens’ CB Humphrey out for season with right pectoral muscle tear
- Saints waive veteran WR Kenny Stills
- Tom Brady is SI’s Sportsperson of the Year
Washington’s Fitzpatrick is out for the season
The 6-6 Washington Football Team still remains in a tight playoff race, but the official loss of star QB, Ryan Fitzpatrick, is a heavy blow that the team really didn’t need right now. Four wins in a row have carried Washington to second place in the NFC East (just below Dallas), but they’ll hope they can carry on the good form without Fitzpatrick for the season.
The return of Fitzpatrick was always a slight possibility, but after the news that the talented QB will miss the season due to arthroscopic surgery on his right hip, the door to his comeback will remain shut for the time being.
Fitzpatrick played only one game this season, and it was during that loss to the Chargers where he suffered a major hip joint injury in the second quarter. The 39-year-old has been on the injury reserve list and Washington fans still hoped for a return to help a playoff push before the arthroscopic surgery was announced.
It remains to be seen what will happen to Fitzpatrick and WFT, as the team only signed the veteran quarterback to a one-year, $10 million deal back in March. His expertise and consistent play after 17 seasons could have been vital to Washington, as his career 223 touchdown passes and 169 interceptions are hard to replace.
In Fitzpatrick’s absence for Washington, backup Taylor Heinicke has done remarkably well and filled the void well enough, throwing 2,809 yards, 18 passing touchdowns, and 11 interceptions for the season.
Two Exciting NFL Week 14 Games Coming Up
Raiders @ Chiefs on Sunday 12th December
The 8-4 Chiefs are currently rolling with six straight victories primarily from their incredible defense. On the other side, the 6-6 Raiders have slipped to 21st in the NFL Power Rankings and seem to be missing a spark that only resurfaced against the win against Dallas on Thursday. The Chiefs should get the win easily if QB Patrick Mahomes is returning to the form we know he can reach. Raiders will make it tough but it’s still going to be the Chiefs in this battle of the AFC West.
Bills @ Buccaneers on Sunday 12th December
The NFL’s best-ranked offense (Tampa Bay) takes on the best-ranked defense (Buffalo) in a matchup that many are predicting for the 2022 Super Bowl. Bills’ QB, Josh Allen, still has a great deal of offensive threats surrounding him and can certainly pick apart the Buccaneers on a good day. There’s a bit of symmetry with the Bills losing star CB Tre’Davious White and with Tampa Bay’s WR, Antonio Brown, still serving a three-game suspension from the league.
You just can’t ignore Brady, however, with a league-best 34 touchdown passes and his ability to tear apart defenses when he spots a weakness. Buccaneers will win a nail-biter against the Bills in probably the best game for the NFL week 14 schedule.
Author: Joe Garland