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NBA: Midweek preview

The NBA standings are slowly starting to take shape, with almost two weeks of the new season having been completed.

We’ve seen shock starts from the Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers, with the Brooklyn Nets and LA Lakers struggling to make any impact so far.

The next few days offers an opportunity for those sides to improve their poor records, while there are tests for sides who have made brilliant starts.

Below is a look at the biggest midweek games, featuring some of the biggest stars the league has to offer.

Hawks head north for Halloween

Monday night’s action is headlined by an Eastern Conference clash between two Play-off hopefuls.

The Atlanta Hawks head to the Toronto Raptors on Halloween night, with the pair both looking for a top-six finish this term. The Hawks are -280 to make the postseason with the Raptors -360, but one or both could need the Play-in to make it.

The Raptors are -180, but they face a tough test against the 4-2 Hawks, with Trae Young averaging 31.5 points and 9.7 assists per game so far this season.

The Raptors will hope their roster of long wing defenders can ensure Ice Trae has a quiet night.

Can the Nets set things right?

It took less than two weeks for the Brooklyn Nets’ old problems to re-emerge, with their limited scoring outside of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving hurting them.

They fell to a 125-116 loss to the Indiana Pacers over the weekend, which was a fifth defeat in six for the Nets.

Things aren’t set to get any easier, with off-court issues hampering them and a tough clash with the Chicago Bulls to come on Tuesday. The Bulls have won three of their opening seven but among those were impressive wins over the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat.

The Nets started off as outside title contenders and remain +900 for the championship, but their poor start could be about to get worse.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, the Golden State Warriors take a losing record into their visit to the Miami Heat.

The Warriors have made a 3-4 start, while last season’s Eastern Conference runners-up have lost five of their first seven. The Warriors won an entertaining clash 123-110 last week and this game should end up closer.

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Chasing pack face off

The Milwaukee Bucks carry a perfect record into this week and start things off with two clashes at home to the 2-5 Detroit Pistons. The 2021 champions will prove hard to catch this season, while the two nearest sides meet on Wednesday.

The Boston Celtics are third in the East after winning four of their first six, but they head to the second-placed Cleveland Cavaliers this week.

The Cavs have won five of their first six and they have slotted summer addition Donovan Mitchell into a good team with ease.

Having spent much of last season pushing towards the top, the improved Cavs look interesting as +1200 underdogs to top the regular season standings in the Eastern Conference.

Meanwhile, The Lakers finally won on Sunday night, with a 121-110 victory over the Denver Nuggets seeing them swerve the worst start in franchise history.

Wednesday pits them against the New Orleans Pelicans, who have started with four wins from six and they could make life difficult for the Lakers.

Raps attempt to handle Luka magic

While Thursday is a quiet one with two outmatched games, Friday has a 12-game slate with some fantastic match-ups.

Among those is the Toronto Raptors heading to the Dallas Mavericks, where Luka Doncic has made an incredible start.

He’s averaging 36.7 points, 9.5 rebounds and 8.7 assists to start the season and is just +300 to follow up that form by winning MVP this year.

The Raptors have a pretty unique defensive set-up, so the prospect of their giant switch defence rotating for shifts against Doncic is fascinating.

The fact that Dallas lack defensive solidity themselves could work for Pascal Siakam, who is averaging over 25 points per game for the Raptors so far.

Elsewhere, Giannis Antetokounmpo faces a real battle as the Bucks meet the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The 4-3 Timberwolves have a giant frontcourt and they’re each likely to battle with the MVP candidate, who is averaging a monster 34.4 points and 14 rebounds across his first five matches.

Repeating that against Rudy Gobert, Karl Anthony-Towns and Jaden McDaniels is a big ask, but it should make for a thrilling clash.

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