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5 Can't-Miss Matchups: LeBron James vs. Luka Doncic

Kia MVP candidates clash for the fourth time this season Friday when Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks host the red-hot Los Angeles Lakers at the American Airlines Center (9:45 p.m. ET, ESPN) to headline this week’s batch of can’t-miss matchups.

Doncic put together a 39-point triple double to close out last week and move past Jason Kidd as the franchise’s record holder for triple-doubles in a season (10). At just 20, Doncic already owns the NBA record for the most triple-doubles for a player under the age of 21 (18), and he won’t turn 21 until Feb. 28. James, meanwhile, leads the league in assists and is on a similar tear while gaining even more chemistry with Anthony Davis.

James vs. Doncic is just one of many matchups this week worth your time.

Trae Young and Michael Porter Jr. clash in a battle between best friends, while Russell Westbrook returns to Oklahoma City for the first time as a Houston Rocket to face young up-and-comer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. And, potential first-time All-Stars Bam Adebayo and Domantas Sabonis meet this week in Indianapolis:

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1. LeBron James vs. Luka Doncic

Last regular season meeting: Dec. 29, 2019

They’ve matched up three times already this season with James’ team coming out on the winning end. This marks the final regular-season installment between the teams and could be viewed as a preview for a potential postseason series between them. Doncic set Dallas’ franchise-record for triple-doubles in a season with his 10th during a loss Saturday to the Hornets.

The Mavs came into this week on a six-game home stand but had lost three of their last four. The Lakers entered Sunday’s games with the best record in the West, riding a four-game winning streak, with James having racked up six consecutive points and assists double-doubles, averaging 21 points, 9.2 rebounds and 12.8 assists over that span.

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

LeBron James 4 1 26.8 7.4 9.4
Luka Doncic 1 4 19.4 7.4 8.8

2. Michael Porter Jr. vs Trae Young

Last regular season meeting: Nov. 12, 2019

Best friends, Porter and Young captured a Peach Jam title together in 2016 as headliners of the Mokan Elite AAU squad, and now get a chance to go head-to-head on the game’s biggest stage. They’ve matched up previously in the NBA, but Porter played sparingly and scored just two points on Nov. 12 in a loss to the Hawks.

Porter racked up a career-high 25 points in 22 minutes on Jan. 2 and followed that up with just seven Saturday in a loss at Washington (he played just 12 minutes). Young, meanwhile, put up his fifth 40-point outing of the season on Saturday, giving him the second-most 40-point performances of the season behind James Harden (14).

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

Michael Porter Jr. 0 1 2.0 1.0 0
Trae Young 1 0 42.0 4.0 11.0

3. Russell Westbrook vs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Last regular season meeting: Oct. 28, 2019

The past meets the future when Westbrook makes his first trip back to Oklahoma City — where he spent 11 seasons as the face of the franchise and earned eight trips to the NBA All-Star Game — to take on Gilgeous-Alexander and the revamped Thunder. OKC finished the week capturing its fifth straight win, and it has won nine of its last 10. The Rockets are 15-2 this season when Westbrook shoots 42% or better and 7-7 when he shoots below 42%. The Thunder finished the week with a win against the Cavaliers, giving them a 13-4 record since Dec. 1. That mark is tied for second-best in the NBA during that span.

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

Russell Westbrook 3 1 24.5 8.3 9.0
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 1 3 9.5 3.0 2.5

4. Bam Adebayo vs. Domantas Sabonis

Last regular season meeting: Dec. 27, 2019

Potential first-time All-Stars go head to head in what should be a fun battle between a couple of this season’s most productive bigs. Sabonis finished off last week racking up his 28th double-double of the season, which ranks third in the NBA. But the Pacers had dropped four of five to close out last week. Miami, meanwhile, came into the week having lost two of its last three after winning five in a row from Dec. 18-28.

Adebayo has logged double-digit rebounds in three of his last four games. Adebayo’s Heat came out on top the last time these players met, but Sabonis had won the three prior matchups going back to November of 2018.

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

Bam Adebayo 2 4 8.8 4.7 2.3
Domantas Sabonis 4 2 12.2 9.7 2.0

5. Devonte’ Graham vs. Donovan Mitchell

Last regular season meeting: Dec. 21, 2019

Young players on the rise face off for just the second time this season, but Graham has logged only one start in the matchup against Mitchell. In that game, he scored 22 points to go with four assists in a December loss to the Jazz.

Mitchell lit up Orlando for 32 points and six assists in Utah’s fifth consecutive win to close out last week. Graham finished last week with 27 points and 13 assists in a win over Dallas to give Charlotte its second consecutive win after dropping a season-high six in a row in December. The Hornets are 5-9 this season against Western Conference opponents.

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

Devonte’ Graham 0 3 7.3 1.7 3.3
Donovan Mitchell 3 0 25.0 4.3 6.7

Underrated matchup: Damian Lillard vs. Kyle Lowry

Last regular season meeting: March 1, 2019

It’s always a fun night when a pair of All-Star guards meet, as we’ve got here with Lillard vs. Lowry. Lillard entered the week having scored 30 or more in five of his last six games. The banged-up Raptors notched a dominant win against Brooklyn last Saturday to improve to 5-4 over their previous nine games. Toronto is 6-4 since Dec. 18, which is when it lost Marc Gasol (hamstring), Pascal Siakam (groin) and Norman Powell (shoulder) to injury. Lowry and the Raptors have won five in a row against Lillard and the Blazers dating back to Feb. 4, 2016.

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

Damian Lillard 5 6 26.5 4.4 6.9
Kyle Lowry 6 5 16.4 5.8 6.8

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

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