This is the Jump Ball’s weekly TV Guide for NBA fans. We point out what games are must-watch TV each week. This week their two homecomings and two powerhouse teams in the West meet.
Monday, a six-game night for the league.
New Orleans Pelicans (14-13) vs Houston Rockets (20-4)
The Pelicans are coming into Houston on the second night of a back-to-back to take on the hottest team in the NBA. The Rockets have the longest active winning streak in the NBA right now at 9 and haven’t lost a game since Chris Paul has come back. The Pelicans dynamic duo of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis will provide a real test for the Rockets defense when they go small.
Portland Trail Blazers (13-12) vs Golden State Warriors (21-6)
The first game at home after a six-game road trip is usually a tough one for the home team and the Curry-less Warriors will have to take on a Blazers team that is desperate for a win after losing their last four games. The good news for Portland is that Damian Lillard is beginning to heat up, scoring 29 or more in seven of their last eight games.
Tuesday, seven games on the docket, including two on ESPN
Los Angeles Lakers (10-15) vs New York Knicks (12-13)
Madison Square Garden has a tendency to bring the best out of players and there couldn’t be a better for Lonzo Ball to have a big game. That said, the Lakers have been playing well, winning their first two games on this four-game road trip. The Knicks have also been playing better than most expected and a playoff berth is not out of the question. The combination of Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Junior with Enes Kanter coming off the bench has given the Knicks quite a boast and interesting future.
Philadelphia 76ers (12-13) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (15-11)
The Sixers are in the midst of their longest losing streak of the season after losing their fourth in a row and six of their last eight. It’s safe to say they are desperate for a win. Meanwhile, the Wolves continue to win, they win ugly but wins are wins. With the way Thibs plays his starters heavy minutes, it won’t be a surprise to see them drop a few games when their big guns run out of gas. This could definitely be one of those games.
Wednesday, nine games including a special homecoming in Indiana
Oklahoma City Thunder (12-13) vs Indiana Pacers (16-11)
It is safe to assume the environment Bankers Life Fieldhouse will be quite hostile when Paul George makes his first ever return to Indiana as a member of the Thunder. Victor Oladipo has been AMAZING for the Pacers, in their last five he’s averaging 31.8 points, 45.8% from three, 7 boards, and 4.6 assists. With Oladipo playing this way and the Thunder struggle, it certainly makes Indy’s side of that trade look much better.
Milwaukee Bucks (15-10) vs New Orleans Pelicans (14-13)
Two the NBA’s brightest and younger stars will collide when Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis square off. Add Cousins to this matchup and things can get quite exciting in a hurry. The Bucks are 11-4 since the Eric Bledsoe trade and have a top ten defensive rating.
Thursday, five games on the slate but only one is really worth watching.
Los Angeles Lakers (10-15) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (19-8)
This is the first of two Laker live auditions to ‘Wow’ LeBron James with their young talent. This is the first of four tough games for the Lakers, after Cleveland, they play the Warriors twice with the Rockets wedged in between. During the Cavs 13-game win streak the much-maligned defense had a defensive rating of 102.4 much improved from their 113.1 before the streak began.
Friday, 11 games for another fun NBA Friday night.
Detroit Pistons (14-12) vs Indiana Pacers (16-11)
Heading into this week the Pistons are riding a six-game losing streak and are still looking for their first win in the month of December, they’ll have to get their offense back into gear after posting a 96.8 offensive rating during this losing streak. The Pacers on the other end are on a four-game winning streak and are a solid 10-4 at home. This game can have repercussions come playoff time when both teams are fighting for seeding so it’s worth noting now.
Oklahoma City Thunder (12-13) vs Philadelphia 76ers (12-13)
As a rookie, Ben Simmons is tied for second with three triple-doubles, behind Russell Westbrook who has eight already this season. It should be a fun game to watch these two guys battle and share the court with Embiid (if he plays), Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony. On a separate note, Steven Adams has been awesome for the Thunder, averaging 19.8 points and 9.6 boards over the last five games.
San Antonio Spurs (19-8) vs Houston Rockets (20-4)
Kawhi Leonard is supposed to make his season debut earlier in the week and will probably be on a minutes restriction when these two teams meet at the end of the week. The Spurs have done a great job maintaining while he was out but his return will be a boast for them and if Aldridge can keep up his number the Spurs will be a real threat.
Saturday, eight games on Saturday, including the Melo return.
Oklahoma City Thunder (12-13) vs New York Knicks (12-13)
It would be surprising if Melo’s greeted by the MSG crowd to anything other than cheering. It is safe to assume Melo will be trying a little extra hard to make sure they get a win. The Knicks have been strong at home with a 12-5 record while the Thunder has been terrible on the road so far this season at 3-10. This game will definitely get a lot of eyes for Melo’s return, should be a fun environment.
Milwaukee Bucks (15-10) vs Houston Rockets (20-4)
As mentioned earlier the Bucks have been improving on defense since they got Bledsoe, and it will be interesting to watch how their length will affect the Rockets. Another thing to watch for this game, if the Bucks aggressively trap the Rockets, both James Harden and Chris Paul could really make them pay. The Bucks give up the league’s highest three-point percentage so it would be wise for them to change their scheme a bit.
Sunday, 4 games for the NBA but only one that catches our eye.
Cleveland Cavaliers (19-8) vs Washington Wizards (14-12)
This is always a fun matchup considering how much the Wizards talk about the Cavs. This game loses it’s luster a bit with John Wall being out but Beal, Porter, and company can certainly give the Cavs a game.
That is it for this week in the NBA!