News Archive

5 Can't-Miss Matchups: Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Zion Williamson

Clash of versatile forwards among this week's matchups to watch

Michael C. Wright

Michael C. Wright

We waited three months to finally see rookie sensation Zion Williamson in action, and on Tuesday we can catch see him match matched up with the reigning Kia MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT.

The Williamson-Antetokounmpo clash headlines yet another week of matchups we can’t wait to see, but keep an eye out for battles between Rudy Gobert and Nikola Jokic as well as Jimmy Butler and Paul George

* * *

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Zion Williamson

Tuesday, Feb. 4 (7:30 ET, TNT)

Last regular season meeting: First career meeting

A Kia MVP candidate clashes with one of the league’s most exciting rookies. Keep an eye on Zion Williamson in this one as the Pelicans plan to make more of an effort to put the ball in his hands after the rookie was seemingly ignored at times in Sunday’s loss to the Houston Rockets. Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry said “that will never happen again.” Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, has produced 30 points or more in 26 games while racking up at least 10 rebounds in 23 of those outings.

2. Rudy Gobert vs. Nikola Jokic

Wednesday, Feb. 5 (9 ET, League Pass)

Last regular season meeting: Jan. 30, 2020

Yes, you saw this matchup last week, and here it is again with both players having made the 2020 NBA All-Star team. Gobert has won three of the last five head-to-heads against Jokic, who posted a 28-point double-double just last week to help the Nuggets best the Jazz. The pair matched one-on-one for a little more than six minutes in the last meeting, and Gobert connected on 4 of 5 for nine points. Jokic closed last week with his 10th triple-double of the season and 38th of his career, which puts him just five away from former Nuggets star Fat Lever for 9th all-time in triple-doubles.

Head-to-head stats below are via Basketball Reference.

Player W L PPG RPG APG
Nikola Jokic 4 8 13.7 8.9 6.0
Rudy Gobert 8 4 14.5 10.4 1.2

3. Jimmy Butler vs. Paul George

Wednesday, Feb. 5 (10 ET, ESPN)

Last regular season meeting: Jan. 19, 2019

Former teammates on the U.S. Olympic team, Butler and George will face each other for the first time in more than a year. George racked up 31 points, going 4-for-9 on 3-pointers the last time these players (which was when George was still on the Oklahoma City Thunder and Butler was on the Philadelphia 76ers). Butler is averaging career highs in assists (6.3) and rebounds (6.8) per game, and he’s poured in 20 points or more in four of his last five games entering this week. But, he’s also turned the ball over on nine occasions in that span.

Head-to-head stats below are via Basketball Reference.

Player W L PPG RPG APG
Jimmy Butler 12 11 14.7 4.1 3.0
Paul George 11 12 20.9 6.3 4.0

4. Kyle Lowry vs. Victor Oladipo

Friday, Feb. 7 (8 ET, ESPN)

Last regular season meeting: Jan. 23, 2019

Oladipo returned to the lineup last Tuesday for the first time since January of 2019 after fighting back from a ruptured right quadriceps tendon, which occurred coincidentally against the Toronto Raptors. Oladipo played in just two games last week, so it’s expected Oladipo will still be shaking off some the rust against Lowry, who was just named to his sixth consecutive NBA All-Star team. Going back to Dec. 1, 2017, Lowry and the Raptors had won four straight against Oladipo until the night of the 2019 quadriceps tendon injury, a 110-106 Pacers win over the Raptors. These teams face one another twice this week.

Head-to-head stats below are via Basketball Reference.

Player W L PPG RPG APG
Kyle Lowry 12 3 18.1 5.9 7.4
Victor Oladipo 3 12 16.9 4.2 3.3

5. DeMar DeRozan vs. Kawhi Leonard

Monday, Feb. 3 (10:30 ET, NBATV)

Last regular season meeting: Dec. 21, 2019.

Traded for one another in the summer of 2018, DeRozan and Leonard have battled to a few memorable performances over the past couple of seasons. Leonard has come out on top in three of the last five meetings, and racked up 26 points and nine assists to go with four steals when he faced DeRozan just before Christmas. DeRozan just reached 16,000 career points. Since he was drafted in 2009, only six other players have reached that scoring mark (LeBron James, James Harden, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Stephen Curry and LaMarcus Aldridge). Over the last three weeks, Leonard has produced a career-high nine straight outings with at least 30 points.

Head-to-head stats below are via Basketball Reference.

Player W L PPG RPG APG
DeMar DeRozan 4 9 21.1 4.8 4.5
Kawhi Leonard 9 4 17.4 6.8 3.0

Underrated matchup: Joel Embiid vs. Bam Adebayo

Monday, Feb. 3 (7:30 ET, NBA TV)

Last regular season meeting: Dec. 28, 2019

A pair of Eastern Conference All-Stars meet on NBA TV in an important contest given each team’s standing in the conference. Even though Adebayo owns a 4-3 advantage in the series, he’s started in just three games against Embiid. Adebayo has won two of the last three matchups, averaging 17 points in the last two meetings while Embiid has averaged 28.5 points. But Embiid has struggled as of late. He scored 11 points on 1-of-11 shooting in a loss to Boston on Saturday, finishing a season-low -25 for the game.

Head-to-head stats below are via Basketball Reference.

Player W L PPG RPG APG
Bam Adebayo 4 3 10.3 6.0 2.1
Joel Embiid 3 4 24.6 12.1 3.0

* * *

Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here , find his archive here and follow him on Twitter .

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

Latest