There are only seven more weekends remaining in the regular season, so it’s crunch time for bubble teams. James Harden makes his debut with the Philadelphia 76ers against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, and then he returns to Gotham for a Sunday matinee against the New York Knicks. Luka Doncic and the Mavs have two tough games against Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz on Friday, and then a showdown versus Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors on Sunday.
On Friday night in Hollywood, there’s a big game at Crypto.com Arena between the LA Lakers and the LA Clippers. Both teams are at the back of the pack in the Western Conference playoff hunt.
On Saturday night, two of the top five teams in the NBA meet in a Saturday night showdown. Ja Morant and the high-octane Memphis Grizzlies head to the Windy City to take on DeMar DeRozan and the Chicago Bulls.
NBA Friday: Harden Debut, Battle of LA
Houston Rockets (15-43) at Orlando Magic (13-47)… If you like Friday Night Bum Fights, then do not miss the worst team in the Eastern Conference hosting the worst team in the Western Conference. The Rockets are 23-34-1 ATS for the third-worst betting team in the NBA.
Philadelphia 76ers (35-23) at Minnesota Timberwolves (32-26)… The long-awaited Harden debut will finally happen when he plays his first game with the 76ers since the Brooklyn Nets traded him for Ben Simmons. Karl-Anthony Towns from the Timberwolves is fresh off his victory in the NBA 3-Point Contest, so expect him to jack up a lot of treys.
Dallas Mavs (35-24) at Utah Jazz (36-22)… Doncic and the #5 Mavs square off against Spida and the #5 Jazz. A sizzling Doncic dropped 45 or more points in three out of his last four games before the All-Star Break. He’s averaging 36.3 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 9.4 assists per game in February.
LA Clippers (30-31) at LA Lakers (27-31)… It’s the Battle of LA. The Clippers hold down the #8 seed, while the disappointing Lakers are the #9 seed. LeBron will have to carry the team once again without Anthony Davis in the lineup (foot and ankle injury).
NBA Saturday: Ja vs DDR, Kyrie vs Freak
Memphis Grizzlies at Chicago Bulls (39-21)… DeMar DeRozan dropped 37 points last night for Da Bulls including another game-winning bucket. A surging DDR extended his insane shooting streak to eight games in a row in which he scored 35-plus points a night while shooting over 50% from the field. Morant tweaked his hip on Thursday night, but he’s expected to start for the Grizzlies, who are the top betting team in the NBA with a 40-21 ATS record.
Brooklyn Nets (31-29) at Milwaukee Bucks (36-24)… It’s a one-man show for Kyrie Irving and the Nets versus Greek Freak and the defending champion Bucks. The Nets will play this one without Kevin Durant (sprained knee) or Ben Simmons, who has yet to suit up for Brooklyn since the Harden trade. They eagerly wait the return of both KD and Simmons to make his debut sometime next week.
NBA Sunday: Harden at MSG, Doncic vs Curry
Philadelphia 76ers (35-23) at New York Knicks (25-34)… Joel Embiid and the 76ers take center stage at Madison Square Garden. Harden returns to the Big Apple to play the lackluster Knicks, who recently benched Kemba Walker for the rest of the season. It’s time for rookie Quentin Grimes to shine.
Utah Jazz (36-22) at Phoenix Suns (49-10)… Two of the top teams in the west have a showdown at high noon (okay, it’s actual 12:30pm PT). The Suns do not have Chris Paul, who will miss the remainder of the regular season with a fractured thumb. Expect Devin Booker to light up the Jazz and throwdown against Spida.
Dallas Mavs (35-24) at Golden State Warriors (43-17)… Everyone has been waiting for this big game on ESPN between Doncic and the Mavs against Curry and the Warriors. Curry snapped out of his shooting funk with 16 treys in the All-Star Game. He exploded for 50 points and won the MVP, which should slam the door on his slump.
New Orleans Pelicans (23-36) at LA Lakers (27-31)… LeBron and the Lakers cannot afford to lose a home game against a bubble team. The Pelicans are the #12 seed without Zion Williamson, but just 1.5 games behind Portland in the #10 seed. CJ McCollum shot lights out since joining his new team after the Trail Blazers traded him to New Orleans. McCollum averaged 31.75 ppg in his last four games.