Last week’s Super Bowl was a bit boring in the 2nd half, but the hardwood action didn’t disappoint and this weekend looks to be loaded. Let’s get to the top five games on NBA League Pass this weekend.
Is that you Coby White?
Los Angeles Clippers at Chicago Bulls – Friday at 8pm EST.
It seems Coby White broke out of his recent slump on Wednesday in a win against the Pelicans. White became the youngest Bulls player to score 30 points, dish out seven assists and hit eight 3’s in a game. The Clippers have 18 wins, which is good for 3rd place in the West and 4th overall in the NBA. As the League’s cream is starting to rise to the top, the Clippers are trying to keep pace with the Lakers and Jazz. The Bulls are plagued with inconsistent play from every player not named Zach LaVine, but find themselves only 1 game out of the 8th spot in the East. This should be a good game to watch, and I wouldn’t bail on this game if it gets out of hand early as the Clippers have a way of letting teams back into the game. White will have to tag-team with LaVine if the Bulls want to pull off this upset.
Jazz ain’t Buck(ing) around.
Milwaukee Bucks at Utah Jazz – Friday at 9pm EST.
I debated on calling this the NBA Regular Season Championship game, but decided against it and went with the headline above. It’s hard to think anyone will dethrone Lebron James and the Lakers, but it’s harder to convince me it’ll be one of these two teams. The best part of this game for all of us? It’s in the regular season and that’s when these teams play the best. So be prepared for an amazing game. The Bucks are coming off a 1-point loss to the Phoenix Suns as Giannis Antetokounmpo missed a last second shot. The Jazz have won five-in-a-row after suffering a loss to the Nuggets and seem to be ready to make a deep playoff push. Who knows, I might be too cynical and this could be the start of the Jazz Dynasty. But we don’t have to worry about that right now … as this is the regular season… where champions go into chill mode and these two teams fight it out to be the regular season champions. Who’s bringing the champagne?
Denver Nuggets look to keep pace in the West
Oklahoma City Thunder at Denver Nuggets – Friday at 9pm EST.
The Nuggets are fresh off a soul-crushing beat down of the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday – their first win in four games. The Thunder are coming off consecutive losses to the Lakers, including an overtime thriller where they let LeBron be LeBron. OKC has been flirting with .500 for a few weeks now and I’m wondering when, or if, they will get back there. The Nuggets are trying to get back into the top of the West playoff picture. The top three teams are starting to pull away from the field, while the Nuggets and a handful of other teams are trying to catch back up. If the Nuggets want a chance at a top four spot in the West, they need to take care of teams like OKC on Friday. If Wednesday’s games are any indication, this one should be good.
Jazz can learn from Heat
Miami Heat at Utah Jazz – Saturday at 9pm EST.
The Jazz have a tough back-to-back this weekend and both games make it into the top five. The Heat have struggled with injuries and inconsistent play for most of the season and are currently outside of the East playoff picture. That doesn’t mean the Heat can’t teach the Jazz a lesson or two on Saturday about what a championship organization looks like. I am a firm believer that the excellence of the Heat organization led them to the NBA Finals last year. The expectations set during the bubble will continue to carry this young Heat team throughout the rest of this season. That championship mentality is something that is learned through hard work and struggle. The Jazz are an extremely talented team that will need to learn what it takes to be an NBA champion. They have two tests this weekend. Let’s see if they can continue to ace them.
On the outside… looking in…
Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings – Sunday at 9pm EST.
Before this weekend’s games both of these teams are .500 and sit a half game out of the West’s last playoff spot. Both of these teams also have two of the most dynamic young point guards in the league in De’Aaron Fox and Ja Morant. Fox is on fire and has been averaging over 27 points in his last 10 games leading the Kings to a 7-3 record. While Ja has struggled in his 9 games since coming back from injury, averaging 16 PPG and leading the Grizzlies to a 5-4 record. Looking deeper at Ja’s stats since his injury, you’ll see that he hasn’t scored 20 points since coming back and the Grizzlies are just 1-4 in their last five games. There is a time in every good NBA player’s journey where they take that next step. Fox appears to have done that, but now it’s time for Ja to take that next step. I over-analyze things though, so let’s just enjoy this one.
Thanks again for taking the time to read the top five. I hope everyone has a safe and healthy weekend … oh and don’t forget to enjoy the games.