NFL POWER RANKINGS AND NBA NEWS JUST BEFORE CHRISTMAS
Teams are pushing for playoff spots in the NFL and COVID-19 is wreaking havoc in both leagues, but there were still some thrilling games taking place for fans to enjoy. Here’s what you need to know about basketball and football this week.
NBA Standings & News to Focus On
- Spurs crush Clippers with Dejounte’s 24/12/13 triple-double
- OKC get victory against Grizz in Ja Morant’s return
- Anthony Davis out for 4 weeks with left knee sprain
- Over 100 NBA players in health and safety protocols during December
- Embiid drops 41 points as Phili gets close win over Celts
Murray’s triple-double propels Spurs to huge win over Clippers
A confusing team if there ever was one, the Spurs lost six in a row and then won four straight earlier in the season. The team has had an up and down mix of NBA games with a huge win over Utah and then a puzzling loss against Sacramento. It seems whatever coach Popovich yelled at them actually worked, as the Spurs earned a massive 116-92 road win over the Clippers on Monday night.
Although they might be 12th in the West NBA standings, the Spurs have shown a lot of fight over the season and at least have one major bright spot for the future: Dejounte Murray. At 12-18, San Antonio will be lucky if they can reach the NBA play-in tournament, let alone the playoffs, but this is still a team that has a solid outlook for next season and beyond. Johnson, White, Vassell, Walker, and Poeltl are all young names with oodles of talent, but it’s Murray who can carry the Spurs to new heights.
Murray grabbed his sixth triple-double of the season and was instrumental in San Antonio’s victory, helping the Texas team with 24 points, 13 assists, 12 rebounds, and even four steals.
Despite the return of Paul George (recovery from right elbow sprain) and Serge Ibaka (H&S protocols), the Spurs were simply too much in the painted area, outscoring the Clippers 68-44 from the key. It was also on the boards where San Antonio had the advantage over L.A. by completely outrebounding the Clippers, 67-43.
Paul George had a decent night by his standards, especially after a return from injury, as he poured in 25 points and added six rebounds, six assists, and three steals. However, he had little help from his teammates, as Zubac was the next highest scorer with 12 points. The Clippers are missing Marcus Morris due to (you guessed it) H&S protocols, and L.A. badly needs his scoring punch and veteran leadership on the court.
All five of the Spurs’ starters scored in double figures, but it was undoubtedly the Dejounte Murray Show, as the Clippers had no answer for his sky-high floaters, excellent interior passing, and even his four from six shots behind the arc. In his fifth season, Murray is now showing the athletic and diverse form we’ve known he’s capable of and is currently leading the Spurs in points (18.1), assists (8.6), and steals (2.0) per game.
Lakers’ Davis will miss four weeks after suffering knee sprain
The news out of Lakerland doesn’t get any better now that star big man Anthony Davis has been ruled out for a month. Davis suffered a heavy blow to his left knee in the Lakers’ loss to Minnesota on Friday night. During a play, the Timberwolves’ Jaden McDaniels was pushed and uncontrollably bowled into Davis’ knee. Davis immediately buckled and was sent to the floor, where it was clear that a nasty injury had occurred. Davis even had trouble walking back to the locker room after the incident.
An MRI on Saturday revealed the knee sprain and Davis will spend the next four weeks rehabbing the knee before being re-evaluated. Davis is, unfortunately, known to be injury-prone and already missed 36 games last season due to primarily a calf strain and Achilles injury.
Before this recent setback, Davis was averaging 23.3 PPG and 9.9 RPG, but more importantly, was playing solid defense and looked good on the floor. The 16-15 Lakers are currently 7th in the West NBA standings and are relying heavily on older, experienced players to get them through to the playoffs. It’s tough to say how the month off will affect Davis when he’s back, but he’s bounced back from worse injuries in his career before.
Two Exciting NBA Games Coming Up
Warriors @ Suns on Saturday 25th December
The top two teams in the West NBA standings will have another epic matchup on Christmas Day this year. The Suns and the Warriors are already predicted to meet up in the Conference Finals, but with such a topsy-turvy season, we’ll just pump the breaks and enjoy this game in the meantime. Both teams look in solid form and are relatively healthy, with only the Warriors’ Poole and Wiggins out with H&S protocols.
Booker is back for the Suns and is rounding into shape, but of course, Curry is still continuing to stun the league after breaking the record for the most made three-pointers in NBA history. It looks like the Suns will take this one at home, especially with a fitter roster, but it won’t come easy.
Nets @ Lakers on Saturday 25th December
Will we actually get a Nets vs. Lakers game on Christmas Day? Right now, Brooklyn has had two games postponed due to an overwhelming amount of players in health and safety protocols caused by COVID-19. Stars like Kevin Durant, James Harden, and even the recently returned Kyrie Irving (only for away games because he is not vaccinated) join the list of six other Nets players out for the same reason.
Over in Los Angeles, the Lakers’ roster doesn’t look much better. In addition to Davis’ knee injury, six players are in H&S protocols, including Dwight Howard, Malik Monk, and great up-and-comer, Talen Horton-Tucker. The good news for L.A. is that stars like Westbrook, LeBron, and Carmelo Anthony are fit and well, and the latest addition of 32-year-old former league-favorite, Isaiah Thomas, appears as if it could work out for this season.
Hopefully we get healthy rosters, but if this game happens at all, expect the Lakers to cruise over the Nets purely because of who is playing on the court.
NFL Power Rankings & News
- Vikings defeat Bears to potentially grab final wild-card playoff spot
- Raiders keep playoff dreams afloat with close win over Browns
- Giants place QB Daniel Jones on injured list
- Bucs WR Chris Godwin done for season with ACL injury
- Colts’ RB Taylor, Bucs’ Brady, and Rams’ Kupp among those added to Pro Bowl
Vikings get a must-need win over Bears to keep playoff race alive
The Minnesota Vikings had to give it all for a crucial win to lock in a playoff spot on Monday night, and boy, did they get that decisive victory. The 7-7 Vikings took care of the Bears, 17-9, on the back of Kirk Cousins’ two major touchdown passes to help grab one of the NFC’s seven playoff spots.
Cousins’ form was fine but will need to improve, as he threw 12 of 24 passes for 87 yards with one interception and was sacked four times, but showed bright spots in his connection to Justin Jefferson for a 12-yard touchdown and a seven-yard touchdown to Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
The 4-10 Bears are one of the worst teams in the league but still put up a decent fight, even scoring a late touchdown at the end of the game. This was Chicago’s eighth loss in nine games and the team is officially out of playoff contention.
The Vikings’ last three games include facing the Rams at home for the NFL’s Week 16, then later the Packers on the road, and finally back in Minnesota against the Bears again for the season-ender.
Two Exciting NFL Week 16 Games Coming Up
Colts @ Cardinals on Saturday 25th December
The Cardinals have suffered two losses in a row, one of those being an unusual loss to the Lions, and are still without star WR, DeAndre Hopkins. Still, the team ranks 5th place in the NFL Power Rankings and QB Kyler Murray is bound to have a comeback game, so can Arizona get the win over a tough defensive team in the Colts? We think not.
Indianapolis will find ways to shut down the Cardinals offense and arguably have the best running back in the league, Jonathon Taylor, to keep things energetic. The Colts will win this road game in a shock start to the NFL Week 16.
Chargers @ Texans on Sunday 26th December
It’s go-time for the 8-6 L.A. Chargers and their playoff run. A win here would help cement their spot for the post-season and as the Texans are already eliminated and have nothing to play for but pride, we’d be shocked to see anything but a Chargers victory. QB Justin Herbert and a strong offense will simply be too much for the Texans.
Author: Joe Garland