This is the Jump Ball’s weekly TV Guide for NBA fans. Kobe Bryant getting his jersey retired is the biggest event of this week.
Monday, a 10 game load for the NBA.
Boston Celtics (25-7) vs Indiana Pacers (17-13)
The first time these teams played each other the Pacers were without Victor Oladipo and only lost by 10. This squad in Indy has really surprised many folks and look to be playoff bound. The Celtics are just rolling along, even with the injury to Marcus Morris guys like Daniel Thesis have stepped up and kept the good times going for the Cs.
Portland Trail Blazers (16-13) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (17-13)
After dropping the first game on this five-game road trip, the Blazers have won three straight and are looking to finish it with a win in Minnesota. The number one topic for them has been minutes, win or lose, everyone is looking to see how many minutes Thibs is playing the guys. What is going unnoticed is Karl-Anthony Towns going on a tear in their last five games averaging 25 points during that stretch. The Blazers will have their hands full in this one.
Golden State Warriors (23-6) vs Los Angeles Lakers (10-17)
The last time they played, the Lakers pushed the Warriors to overtime in a thrilling game; their chances are even better with Steph Curry and Draymond Green out. Add in the emotion of the Lakers retiring Kobe Bryant’s Jersey on this night and it could give the young kids enough to overtake the Dubs.
Tuesday, just three games to watch on a light night for the league.
New Orleans Pelicans (15-15) vs Washington Wizards (16-14)
Anthony Davis may miss the game due to an ankle sprain suffered late in their loss to the Nuggets. But the most surprising thing about the Pelicans is the hot shooting from Darius Miller (45.7%) and E’Twaun Moore (47.5%) from three. The Wizards just got John Wall back and need to start piling up wins to get themselves deeper into the playoff race.
Cleveland Cavaliers (23-8) vs Milwaukee Bucks (15-13)
In the Bucks two losses against the Cavs, Giannis Antetokounmpo has averaged 37 points on 72.1% shooting from the field, that is not a typo! Eric Bledsoe hasn’t played in any of those matchups and he should make a difference in this one. After a shaky start, the Cavs are back to looking like their championship selves and LeBron James has to be a serious MVP candidate if not the frontrunner after back to back triple-doubles. A Giannis vs LeBron battle is must see TV.
Wednesday, 12 games on the slate.
Miami Heat (15-14) vs Boston Celtics (25-7)
A definite revenge game for the Celtics, it was the Heat that snapped their 16 game winning streaking November. This time around Hassan Whiteside won’t be patrolling the paint because he’ll be out with a knee bone bruise.
Minnesota Timberwolves (17-13) vs Denver Nuggets (16-13)
This game features a battle between two teams that could be fighting to host the first round of a playoff series. Going into this week the Wolves and Nuggets are separated by just half a game at this point in the season so whoever owns the season series could have significant meaning come April.
San Antonio Spurs (20-10) vs Portland Trail Blazers (16-13)
The Blazers are in need of a signature win this season and they look poised to get one but to do that they are going to need to figure out how to improve on their assists per game where they are dead last. The Spurs are slowly working Kawhi Leonard back into the flow and will need to figure out how to keep LaMarcus Aldridge’s game going while Leonard is on the floor.
Thursday, five games on the slate but only one is really worth watching.
Toronto Raptors (20-8) vs Philadelphia 76ers (14-14)
The Raptors and Sixers will be playing against each other back to back, Embiid has been struggling with a stiff back so it’s possible he could miss a game somewhere in this series. The Raptors have quietly won nine of their last 10 games and have been getting outstanding playing from their young bench.
Boston Celtics (25-7) vs New York Knicks (16-13)
The Knicks are coming into this week winners of four straight and are square in the mix for a playoff spot. As mentioned in past posts, the garden has a tendency to bring out the best out of star players and it would not be a surprise if Kyrie Irving put on a show under those lights on Thursday night.
Friday, a nine-game agenda but a lot of these games may not be that great.
New York Knicks (16-13) vs Detroit Pistons (17-13)
The Pistons have rebounded from their seven-game losing streak with a nice three-game win streak. The biggest question for the Knicks will be if Kristaps Porzingis will be healthy enough to play, he’s battling some soreness in his knee. If he is a duel between him and Andre Drummond could be pretty epic.
Denver Nuggets (16-13) vs Portland Trail Blazers (16-13)
Ever since the Nurkic trade last season, it seems these two teams cannot get away from each other. Last season the Blazers had a win against the Nuggets late in the season that crushed their playoff hopes. Now they both roll into this week with the same schedule, this is another seeding battle that will have ramifications down the road.
Saturday, 13 games before the league takes the night off for Christmas Eve.
Philadelphia 76ers (14-14) vs Toronto Raptors (20-8)
The second leg of the home and home between these teams should be interesting. These types of wrinkles in the schedule can be considered a tiny playoff simulation where each team will make adjustments to their original game plan, which is why both games are worth watching.
Oklahoma City Thunder (14-15) vs Utah Jazz (14-16)
Every time we think the Thunder have turned the corner they follow it up with a bad loss, the Jazz have just lost Rudy Gobert for the second time this season. Both of these teams can be fighting for the final playoff spot and in those types of races, season series are so important. At the current moment, it’s tied 1-1.
Sunday, No games on Christmas Eve, and from me to you and yours, have yourself a Merry Christmas.
That is it for this week in the NBA!