The Milwaukee Bucks (22-3) have won 16 games in a row, and head into this weekend’s NBA slate with back-to-back games that could extend their streak to 18 consecutive victories. Meanwhile, LeBron James visits his old stomping grounds when the Los Angeles Lakers take on the Miami Heat, who have yet to lose a home game this season.
A quarter of the way through the season, and a handful of super-teams have emerged, including the Bucks, Lakers, Heat, and Clippers.
The Lakers (22-3) and Heat (18-6) matchup on Friday is easily the Game of the Week (and, obviously, the Game of the Weekend). If the playoffs were to begin today, the Heat would earn the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference with the second-best record in the East.
Miami, Milwaukee, and Houston all play back-to-back games this weekend on Friday and Saturday.
Friday, Dec. 13
New Orleans Pelicans at Philadelphia Sixers
LA Lakers at Miami Heat
Milwaukee Bucks at Memphis Grizzlies
Saturday, Dec. 14
Cleveland Cavs at Milwaukee Bucks
Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks
Detroit Pistons at Houston Rockets
Sunday, Dec. 15
LA Lakers at Atlanta Hawks
Philadelphia Sixers at Brooklyn Nets
NY Knicks at Denver Nuggets
Speaking of bad teams, the New Orleans Pelicans are bogged down in a 10-game losing streak. They’d love to snap their skid, but the future looks dim when they face Joel Embiid and the Sixers.
The New York Knicks fired head coach David Fizdale last week. Interim head coach, Mike Miller, recently helped the Knicks snap a 10-game losing streak with an overtime victory against the Golden State Warriors. The Knicks play the Sacramento Kings on Friday, and end their grueling West Coast swing against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.
NBA Friday: Streaks
New Orleans Pelicans (6-19) at Philadelphia Sixers (19-7)… The Pelicans allow the second-most points in the NBA at 119.8 per game. The Sixers have yet lose a game at Wells Fargo Center with a 13-0 clip. Brandon Ingram (24.9 ppg, 7.1 rebounds) is a one-man show for the Pelicans, while rookie Zion Williamson is slowly rehabbing his knee.
LA Lakers (22-3) at Miami Heat (18-6)… LeBron returns to his second home when the Lakers visit Jimmy Butler and the Heat. The Heat are one of two undefeated teams at home this season, but they’ll be challenged with trying to extend the streak. The Lakers boast the best record in the West, and the best road record in the NBA. LeBron, who leads the NBA in assists with 10.8 per game, loves playing in front of the hoi polloi in South Beach.
Milwaukee Bucks (22-3) at Memphis Grizzlies (8-16)… The Griz will try to derail the Bucks’ winning streak, but you can’t blame them if they don’t succeed. The Bucks average the most points in the league with 120.8 per game, while the Griz have the fifth-worst defense in the NBA, allowing 116.0 points per game. Ja Morant, the leading Rookie of the Year candidate (18.7 points and 6.4 assists per game), returned to the lineup after missing 10 days with back spams.
NBA Saturday: B2B
Cleveland Cavs (6-19) at Milwaukee Bucks (22-3)…. The Cavs are bad once again. If it weren’t for the lowly Knicks, the Cavs would be the worst team in the East. The team is already shopping Kevin Love (16.7 ppg, 10.8 rebounds). Collin Sexton (17.8 ppg) leads the Cavs in scoring, but aside from Love, the Cavs lack a consistent third option. The Cavs have zero shot at knocking off the Bucks, who will be playing the second night of a road/home back-to-back.
Miami Heat (18-6) at Dallas Mavericks (17-7)… The Heat hit the road for the second night of a home/road back-to-back. Luka Doncic recently blew away NBA fans in Mexico City with a 41-point triple-double. At this point, it’s only news if Doncic doesn’t post a triple-double. He has eight through 24 games.
Detroit Pistons (10-15) at Houston Rockets (16-8)… The Rockets average the second-most points in the NBA with 120.3. They’re also making 15.8 three-pointers per game, while chucking over 46 treys per night, which is more than half of all their shot attempts. James Harden leads the NBA in scoring with 38.7 points per game. He also attempts 14 treys on a nightly basis. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook (22.5 ppg) struggles from downtown with only a 23 percent success rate.
NBA Sunday: Trae vs. LBJ
LA Lakers (22-3) at Atlanta Hawks (6-19)… The Hawks continue their losing ways, but at least Trae Young makes their games must-see television. The Hawks are terrible on defense (third-worst in the NBA, allowing 118.8 ppg). They rely on Young (27.9 ppg, 8.6 assists) to generate enough points to keep them in games.
Philadelphia Sixers (19-7) at Brooklyn Nets (13-11)… The Sixers are barely a break even team on the road, while they completely dominate at home in Philly. Maybe it’s the cheesesteaks. Kyrie Irving (shoulder) hasn’t played since mid-November. Backup point guard, Spencer Dinwiddie, started in place of Irving in the last 10 games or so, and he currently leads Brooklyn with 20.8 ppg.
NY Knicks (5-20) at Denver Nuggets (15-8)… The Knicks finally won a game to end a nightmarish 10-game losing streak. The Nuggets are a good team, but have yet to establish a consistent groove during a 2-5 clip over their last seven games. If there’s a team that can help jump start their offense, it’s the anemic Knicks. Nikola Jokic (16.2 ppg, 10.0 rebounds, 6.3 assists) got off to a slow start, but he’s still a monster on the glass with double-digit rebounds in 10 out of his last 13 games.