Sling TV is offering a free preview of NBA League Pass and NBATV from 12/13 through 12/19. We sat down with NBATV commentators Kevin McHale, Steve Smith and Brendan Haywood to talk about their picks for the NBA Finals and the benefits of adding NBA League Pass for the rest of the season. Here are a few games you can look forward this week in the NBA.
Both the Lakers and Bucks came out of the weekend sporting records of 24-3, the best in the NBA, which represents a 73-win pace. The Bucks point differential of 13.6 would break the all-time record; the Lakers’ point differential of 9.4 would be top 20 all-time. A year after winning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo seen a rise in his scoring and rebounding (per 36 minutes). LeBron James is averaging a career-high 10.7 assists, while still managing 26 ppg. By the way, LeBron will be passing Gary Payton later this week to move into the #9 spot on the all-time assists board, and he should pass Isaiah Thomas sometime in mid-January.
Wednesday, December 18
Miami Heat (19-7) vs Philadelphia 76ers (20-8)
7pm ET on ESPN
The Heat and Sixers finished the weekend in a virtual tie for second place in the East. The Heat beat the Mavericks in OT on Saturday, 122-118, with Jimmy Butler scoring 27 points on 8-of-22 shooting, while Philly suffered a 109-89 blowout at in Brooklyn, due in part to a respiratory illness that kept Joel Embiid sidelined.
Boston Celtics (17-7) vs Dallas Mavericks (17-8)
9:30pm ET on ESPN
The Celtics have been off since Thursday, when they dropped one at home against the Sixers, 115-109. In the loss, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum combined to shoot 8-of-27, while Philly’s Joel Embiid went off, posting 38-13-6. The Mavs played Philly on Saturday, losing both the game, 122-118, and Luka Dončić, who checked out of the game for good in the first quarter with an ankle sprain.
Thursday, December 19
Los Angeles Lakers (24-3) vs Milwaukee Bucks (24-3)
8pm ET on TNT
Oh, look, it’s the two teams with the best records in the league, featuring two players who are the best of their respective generations. James had a ridiculous 32-13-7 stat line (plus 3 blocks) against the Hawks on Sunday, leading the Lakers to a 101-96 victory and tying them with the Bucks for the best record in the NBA. Over the weekend, the Bucks notched their 18th straight win, a 125-108 defeat of the Cavs, with Giannis scoring 29 points in just 24 minutes of play. Milwaukee was clearly looking ahead to this week’s slate of opponents, which includes the Mavs, Lakers and Pacers. Bad time for PG Eric Bledsoe to be out for two weeks with a fibula avulsion fracture.
Houston Rockets (17-9) vs Los Angeles Clippers (20-8)
10:30pm ET on TNT
The Rockets failed to launch on Saturday, falling at home to the Pistons 115-107, despite 39 points from James Harden and 12 points and 19 boards from Clint Capela. The Clips are also coming off a Saturday loss, 109-106, at the hands of the Bulls, with Montrezl Harrell scoring 30 off the bench and Kawhi Leonard getting a rest due to “left knee soreness.”
Friday, December 20
Dallas Mavericks vs Philadelphia 76ers
8pm ET on ESPN
That ankle sprain suffered by Luka Dončić on Saturday in the Mavs’ loss to Philly will keep him sidelined for two weeks, and the timing couldn’t be worse as Dallas faces Milwaukee, Boston, Philly and Toronto this week. The Sixers’ opponents are last in the league in rebounds, both on offense and defense, and last in 3-pointers both taken and made.
New Orleans Pelicans (6-21) vs Golden State Warriors (5-23)
10:30pm ET on ESPN
The wheels are coming off in New Orleans, where the Pelicans dropped their twelfth straight on Sunday, losing 130-119 to the Magic, despite shooting 53.4 percent from the floor and getting 20+ points from Jrue Holiday, JJ Redick, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart. That one was lost at the free throw line, where Orlando made 21 of 26, while the Pelicans made just 6 of 12. Worse still, Zion Williamson may not make his debut until next month. Speaking of futility, the Warriors got beat at home on Sunday by the Kings, 100-79, as the team that reinvented basketball with its long-range shooting made just 6 of 25 from beyond the arc.
Stats through Sunday, courtesy Basketball Reference