LeBron James, Paul George, Kyrie Irving, DeMarcus Cousins and other stars are all set for a big night on NBA TV
POSTED: Feb 1, 2016 12:04 PM ET
LeBron James and the Cavaliers look to win a fifth straight under coach Tyronn Lue.
Paul George and LeBron James enter tonight's matchup on two different trajectories. George sizzled out of the gates in 2015-16, but simmered down in December and January. After averaging 29.5 points on 47.5 percent shooting (and 49.0 percent from 3-point range) in November, George averaged 21.6 points on 38.8 percent from the field over the last two months. Maybe February will be kinder to him. For LeBron, he started the season slow but turned up the intensity on January 1 to average 23.6 points on 55.2 percent from the field, 7.1 assists, 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals since the start of 2016. LeBron will look to keep this streak going tonight on the road as the Cavaliers look to tally their ninth win in their last 10 road games. The Cavaliers will also look to improve to 2-0 against the Pacers this season after winning in early November, 101-97.
After the Cavaliers' signature win over the Spurs on Saturday, LeBron James mentioned and praised new coach Tyronn Lue 16 times in his postgame press conference. LeBron credits Lue for the Cavaliers' strong play over the last four games as the team feels looser and looks unstoppable on offense. Since the coaching change, Cleveland has the second best offensive rating in the NBA and is scoring 115.4 points per 100 possessions while playing at the 3rd slowest pace in the NBA. The Cavs have scored 114-plus points in all five games and LeBron, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have scored 20-plus points in each of their past two games. Prior to this stretch, the Cavaliers' superstar trio had yet to accomplish that feat during their 18 games together this season. Will the Cavaliers be able to keep their offense cooking against the fourth best defense in the league tonight?
Myles Turner has been on a tear for the Pacers over his last six games. Since Ian Mahinmi was hobbled by injury, the No. 11 pick out of Texas is averaging 19.7 points on 62.2 percent from the field, 6.2 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. Turner saw 40 minutes of action in the Pacers game against the Nuggets on Saturday as Mahinmi was out with a sore lower back. Mahinmi is questionable for tonight's matchup, so keep an eye on Turner who stretches the floor and crashes the glass with his 6-foot-11 frame. He has stepped up in big games over this six-game stretch, scoring 20 points on 9-for-17 shooting against the Hawks and 31 points on 12-for-17 shooting against the Warriors.
Khris Middleton continues to evolve for the Bucks. After a slow start to the season, Middleton is averaging 23.0 points on 50.2 percent, 2.1 3-pointers on 41.7 percent, 5.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds in 37.6 minutes since mid-December. The assists are the big surprise for Middleton, who tallied five-plus assists in a game just seven times in his career before this season. He has hit that mark in each of his last four games and 13 times already in 2015-16. Since December 20, Middleton joins LeBron, Damian Lillard, James Harden, Jimmy Butler, Kemba Walker, Russell Westbrook and Stephen Curry as the only players averaging more than 22 points and five assists. Pretty okay company!
DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) is questionable for tonight's game against the Bucks after a scare on Saturday that caused him to leave the game. It's good news for the Kings that the injury isn't serious. But it's still a setback for Cousins, who was rolling with averages of 31.5 points on 48.0 percent shooting from the field, 42.0 percent from 3-point (19-for-45), 12.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.3 blocks in January. He's the first player in Kings history since Oscar Robertson to average 30-plus points and 10-plus rebounds for a calendar month (minimum 10 games). The Kings hope he can return to the floor tonight, otherwise they will be streaming up stream as they are just 1-7 without their big man this season.
Both teams are filled with fresh faces who can make your jaw drop on any given night. From Giannis Antetokounmpo to Ben McLemore to Jabari Parker to Willie Cauley-Stein, there's no telling what you will see from these young squads tonight. Antetokounmpo and Parker come in hot for the Bucks after combining for 45 points on 18-for-30 shooting in a tight loss to the Heat on Friday. Cauley-Stein will see increased opportunity if Cousins is out as both teams look to stay in the playoff picture. The Bucks (20-29) sit 5.5 games out of 8th place in the East while the Kings (20-27) are just 2.0 games behind the Trail Blazers for No. 8 out West.
NBA.com staff reports