A star-studded slate of action offers plenty of reasons to tune in
POSTED: Feb 29, 2016 12:32 PM ET
Paul George and LeBron James will both look to snap two-game losing streaks tonight.
There's a lot of history between these two superstar forwards. George and the Pacers have faced LeBron James in the playoffs three times over the last four seasons with LeBron and the Miami Heat winning each series. Now back in Cleveland, the Pacers get to see LeBron at least four times a season as a division rival. So far this season, the Cavaliers are 2-0 against the Pacers with LeBron averaging 26.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists. George was dominant in his first game against the Cavaliers this season, posting 32 points on 11-for-21 shooting, 11 rebounds and six assists. But his last matchup was a different story as he struggled from the field and finished with just 11 points on 3-for-15 shooting as the Pacers lost in overtime. If George struggles again, Indiana will turn to Monta Ellis, George Hill and rookie Myles Turner.
Both teams enter tonight's contest with something to prove. The Cavaliers have lost three of their last four games and were controlled by the Wizards on Sunday as LeBron James took the game off to rest. A return home to Cleveland is exactly what the doctor ordered as the Cavaliers are an Eastern Conference best 24-5 at home this season. A loss would tie the Cavaliers' longest losing streak of the season at three. The Pacers enter on a two-game losing streak of their own after being shut down by the Blazers on Sunday night. Portland shot 50.6 percent from the field and held Paul George to 4-for-15 shooting in 29 minutes. The Pacers will need much more from George tonight if they want to avoid a third straight loss, which would tie their longest losing streak of the season.
It's elite offense versus elite defense in the first of NBA TV's doubleheader. The Cavaliers enter with the fourth best offensive rating and the 29th fastest pace and the Pacers counter with the third best defensive rating and the eighth fastest pace. Keep an eye on turnovers tonight as the Pacers lead the league in points off turnovers with 19.6 per game. So the Cavaliers will need to protect the rock in order to limit a key part of Indiana's offense.
Oklahoma City enters tonight's matchup reeling from a heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the champion Golden State Warriors on Saturday. The Thunder controlled for most of the game until Stephen Curry hit the most memorable shot of the season from 35-plus feet out with :00.7 seconds remaining in overtime. The Curry dagger occurred with Kevin Durant on the bench after he fouled out a minute into the overtime period. Prior to fouling out for the first time in three seasons, Durant was dominant (37 points on 13-for-26 shooting, 12 rebounds and five assists). Don't be surprised if Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder are extra motivated for a dominant game in Sacramento tonight after how Saturday's game ended.
DeMarcus Cousins continues to dominate for the Kings with averages of 30.4 points, 13.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.4 steals over his last five games. He's critical to the Kings' success against Oklahoma City as scored 33 points against the Thunder in the Kings' win in January and just 13 points in their loss in December. He's currently battling through a knee injury, but is expected to play tonight after dropping 26 points and 15 rebounds on the Clippers on Friday. The Kings hope their 24th rated defense will be able to handle Durant, Westbrook and the second best offense in the league tonight.
Every game matters for the Kings as they sit four games behind Houston for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. After tonight's home game, Sacramento hits the road for a daunting four-game trip takes them through the Southwest Division to Memphis, Dallas, San Antonio and New Orleans. A loss tonight and a sub-.500 road trip could signal the end of the Kings' playoff hopes. With this in mind, expect Cousins and the Kings to be extremely motivated against the Thunder tonight. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City is motivated to hold onto the No. 3 spot in the West and avoid a possible West semifinals matchup with the Warriors. The Thunder currently sit 2.5 games ahead of the No. 4 seed Clippers.
-- NBA.com staff reports