It’s time to go over some NBA action.
Let’s start with a pair of matchups between some of the top centers in the league. There’s a Western Conference showdown between some of the top guards, and a defensive battle wraps up the weekend tonight.
All this and more is included in this week’s edition of six things to watch in the NBA.
1. Trail Blazers vs. Warriors: Battle of top backcourt duos
This is the must-see matchup of the weekend. The Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors have two of the best backcourt duos in the NBA, and they will go head-to-head on Saturday night at Oracle Arena. Damian Lillard, the league’s fifth-ranked scorer (27.7), and C.J. McCollum is a deadly shooting combination in Portland’s backcourt, but they will have their work cut out for them against Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, who are top-five in 3-pointers made this season.
Lillard averaged 36.5 points against the Warriors last season. He scored 31 in a game against them earlier this season. There’s a little bit of history between these teams after the Warriors beat the Trail Blazers in five games in the Western Conference semifinals last season.
If you like guard-play and 3-point shooting, then this is the game for you. You should consider placing a wager at sportsbetting-x.com.
2. Rockets try to keep win streak alive
The Rockets increased their win streak to eight games after beating the Sacramento Kings 132-98 on Wednesday night, the first time they’ve won eight straight games since the 2013-14 season. On Friday night, the Rockets will attempt to make it nine wins in a row when they host the New Orleans Pelicans. Houston hasn’t won nine straight games since the 2007-08 season when it won 22 games in a row.
3. Jazz vs. Grizzlies: Battle of top defenses
Sunday night’s game pits first and third ranked defenses in the NBA against each other as the Utah Grizzlies take on the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum. The Jazz are allowing just 95.2 points per game and opponents are shooting only 42.8 percent against them. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies are allowing 97.3 points per game, while holding opponents to 43 percent shooting. Rudy Gobert is the driving force behind Utah’s defense. The Jazz center ranks second in blocks per game (2.77).
Sunday night’s game might not be high-scoring, but defensive connoisseurs will appreciate this matchup.
4. Isaiah Thomas nearing return, could play Friday
The Celtics have been without their star point guard for the last four games, and they’ve lost three of those contests, including Wednesday night’s 108-101 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. But Celtics president Danny Ainge said Thursday that the plan is for Thomas (groin) to play Friday night against the Charlotte Hornets. Thomas is the league’s seventh-ranked scorer with 26.0 points per game this season.
5. DeMarcus Cousins vs. Marc Gasol
Grizzlies coach David Fizdale praised Gasol after Wednesday night’s 93-85 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, calling him the best center in the NBA. The two-time All-Star and former Defensive Player of the Year is averaging 19.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. Meanwhile, Cousins is averaging 28.3 points 10.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
Friday night’s game between the Sacramento Kings and Memphis Grizzlies should help settle the debate over who’s the best center in the NBA. Cousins will be well-rested for the contest after sitting out Wednesday night’s game against the Houston Rockets for rest purposes.
In terms of centers matchups, it doesn’t get much better than this.
6. DeAndre Jordan vs. Hassan Whiteside
Two of the top rim protectors in the game go at it Friday night when the Los Angeles Clippers take on the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Jordan is averaging 1.8 blocks to go along with 11.7 points and 12.6 rebounds this season. Meanwhile, Whiteside is putting up career numbers in points (17.6) and rebounds (14.7), while ranking fourth in blocks per game (2.35).
Whiteside had his fourth career 20-20 game with 26 points and 22 rebounds in Wednesday night’s 95-89 win over the Indiana Pacers. He trails Jordan (6), Cousins (7) and Andre Drummond (10) for the most 20-20 games over the last three seasons, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
This is one matchup you don’t want to miss if you’re a fan of shot-blocking big men.