Paul George and Kawhi Leonard played together this past weekend for the first time in a month, giving Clips’ fans hope they can buckle down for the NBA‘s stretch run and pass the Lakers.
After Monday’s action, the Clippers are 35-15 and trail the Lakers by three games in the West, so the question is, can the Clippers catch the Lakers and lay claim to home court advantage in the conference finals? It looks to be a pretty steep climb. Clippers are 16-4 when both Kawhi and PG play. If, by some miracle, they managed to play together with that kind of success for every game the rest of the way, they’d win 60.6 games.
More realistically, given Kawhi’s status on the bleeding edge of the “load management” movement and the spotty injury history of both Leonard and PG, it seems unlikely they’ll play much more than 25 games together, thereby knocking one or two wins off that total.
At 37-11 (.771), the Lakers need only go 24-10 (.706) to top 60 wins, a totally achievable goal, even with Anthony Davis’ recent back troubles. The Lakers also have the advantage of LeBron likely wanting to get back to the Finals after a one-year layoff and trying to chase down one last MVP award.
As we near the All-Star break, here’s a look at this week’s nationally televised NBA schedule on Sling.
Tuesday, February 4
Milwaukee Bucks (42-7) vs New Orleans Pelicans (20-30)
7:30pm ET on TNT
Giannis Antetokounmpo on Sunday scored 30 points to go along with 19 rebounds and 9 assists as the Bucks steamrolled the Suns 129-108. Also on Sunday, the Pelicans took a 1-point lead into the 4th quarter against Houston, but couldn’t make it stand up; they lost 117-109, despite Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson going 28-12 and 21-10, respectively.
San Antonio Spurs (22-27) vs Los Angeles Lakers (37-11)
10pm ET on TNT
The Spurs were up by as much as 15 in the 2nd quarter against the Clippers Monday, only to watch that margin wither away to less than nothing, as San Antonio lost 108-105, wasting LaMarcus Aldridge’s 27-9-5 line. The Lakers notched their first win since the death of Kobe Bryant on Saturday, beating the Kings 129-113, with LeBron James posting his 11th triple-double of the season (15-10-11).
Wednesday, February 5
Orlando Magic (22-28) vs Boston Celtics (34-15)
7:0pm ET on ESPN
On Monday, Aaron Gordon had 16 points, 12 rebounds, 5 assists, and 2 steals in the Magic’s 112-100 win over the Hornets. Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown each scored 20+ in the Celtics 123-115 win over the Hawks on Monday.
Miami Heat (34-15) vs Los Angeles Clippers (35-15)
10pm ET on ESPN
Jimmy Butler scored 38 points in 29 minutes on Monday as the the Heat buried the Sixers 137-106. Behind Paul George’s 19 points, 12 boards, and 8 dimes, the Clippers beat the Spurs 108-105 on Monday.
Thursday, February 6
Philadelphia 76ers (31-20) vs Milwaukee Bucks (42-7)
8pm ET on TNT
With Monday’s loss to the Heat, the Sixers dropped to 9-18 on the road this year. Unless they can figure it out, they may not have home court in the playoffs, which would be devastating since they’re 22-2 at the Wells Fargo Center. Giannis Antetokounmpo is on pace to be the first player since Moses Malone in 1981-82 to average 30 points and 13 rebounds.
Houston Rockets (31-18) vs Los Angeles Lakers (37-11)
10:30pm ET on TNT
James Harden just keeps rolling along. On Sunday he scored 40 points, grabbed 10 boards and dropped 9 dimes to lead the Rockets to a 117-109 win over the Pels. With 47,838 minutes played (the equivalent of over 33 days), LeBron James is 23 minutes short of passing Wilt Chamberlain for 9th all-time.
Friday, February 7
Toronto Raptors (36-14) vs Indiana Pacers (31-19)
8pm ET on ESPN
The Raptors smoked the Bulls 129-102 on Sunday, as rookie Terence Davis came off the bench to score a game-high 31 points. Victor Oladipo continues to struggle following his return from injury, as he scored just 9 points on 4-of-17 shooting in the Pacers 112-103 loss to the Mavs. Oladipo has made just 8-of-39 shots (20.5%) in the three games since his return.
Portland Trail Blazers (23-27) vs Utah Jazz (32-17)
10:30pm ET on ESPN
In the first of their two matchups this week, Damian Lillard’s scoring binge continued on Saturday as he topped 50 points for the third time in six games to lead the Blazers to a 124-107 win over the Jazz. On the other bench, Utah’s Rudy Gobert struggled, managing just 6 points and 11 boards.
Saturday, February 8
Los Angeles Lakers (37-11) vs Golden State Warriors (12-39)
8:30pm ET on ABC/ESPN3
Lakers backup center Dwight Howard is on his fifth team in the last five seasons, during which he’s averaged 13.4 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. Alec Burks came off the bench on Monday to score a team-high 30 points in the Warriors 125-117 win over the Wizards.