Monday, March 1
Brooklyn at San Antonio
The Nets are 15-7 since James Harden made his debut with the team on Jan. 16. But the Big Three has played only seven games together; instead it has been a mix with two of the three together or sometimes just one suiting up. Here is a quick breakdown of the 22 games since Harden arrived in Brooklyn:
• All three play: 5-2
• Just Harden and Irving: 7-2
• Just Harden and Durant: 2-0
• Just Irving and Durant: 0-1
• Just Harden: 1-2
The latest “Just Harden” game came on Saturday as the Nets had their eight-game win streak snapped by the Dallas Mavericks. However, Irving is not listed on the team’s injury report ahead of Monday’s game in San Antonio, so the Nets should be back to having 2/3 of the Big Three available. In those games, they are 9-3 overall and 7-2 when it is the combo of Irving and Harden playing together.
Tuesday, March 2
Denver at Milwaukee
It’s round two between Denver’s Nikola Jokic and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo — two of the league’s most dominant and unique superstars. Giannis and the Bucks won the first meeting with the Nuggets, 125-112 on Feb. 8, behind 30 points and nine rebounds from the two-time reigning Kia MVP and 30 points and a career-best 12 assists from Khris Middleton. Jokic stuffed the stat sheet with a game-high 35 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in 39 minutes, but the Bucks outscored the Nuggets 66-50 in the second half to earn the win.
Giannis got the best of the individual matchup with Jokic when the two defended one another. In 1:30 of matchup time with Jokic defending Giannis, Giannis scored 13 points on 4-for-6 shooting from the field, 2-for-3 from 3-point range and 3-for-4 from the free throw line. In 1:05 of matchup time with Giannis defending Jokic, Jokic had four points on 2-for-6 shooting from the field and had three of his shots blocked.
Jokic and the Nuggets will have their hands full with Giannis, who has scored at least 35 points in each of his past four games — the longest streak in the NBA this season.
Wednesday, March 3
Utah at Philadelphia
Anytime we get a matchup of the teams with the top records in each conference, it has to make the must-watch list. The Sixers lead the Eastern Conference at 22-12, but they are coming off an overtime loss to Cleveland despite a 42-point effort from Joel Embiid. The Jazz continue to hold the best record not just in the Western Conference, but in the entire NBA at 27-7. The Jazz own the two longest win streaks in the league this season (11 games and nine games) and have gone 3-2 since their nine-game streak was snapped on Feb. 19 against the Clippers.
It was during that nine-game win streak that the Jazz took down the Sixers 134-123 on Feb. 15 as Jordan Clarkson scored 40 off the Jazz bench to counter Ben Simmons’ career-high 42 points as Embiid missed the game due to back soreness. Having Embiid healthy this time around makes the matchup all the more intriguing as we get to see the league’s second-leading scorer in Embiid (30.0 ppg) and top post-up scorer (8.9 per game) going up against the man at the top of the NBA.com Defensive Player Ladder in Gobert.
Thursday, March 4
Golden State at Phoenix
In the last game to tip off before All-Star, we get a trio of Western Conference All-Star guards in action with Golden State’s Stephen Curry and the Phoenix duo of Chris Paul and Devin Booker — the latter of which is coming off a season-high 43 points on Sunday night.
The Suns took the first game of the season over the Warriors, 114-93 on Jan. 28, in a pivotal game in their season. Prior to that game, the Suns were 8-8 and had lost three straight games. That win over the Warriors has sparked the Suns to go 14-3 over their last 17 games as they have climbed to fourth place in the Western Conference.
In that first meeting on Jan. 28, the Suns had seven players score in double figures, led by Mikal Bridges with 20, despite Booker missing the game. That balanced attack was enough to offset Curry’s 27 points and five 3-pointers. Bridges was the primary defender on Curry for 7:05 (67% of Curry’s offensive matchup time), with Curry scoring 12 points on 5-8 shooting to go with two assists and three turnovers. Curry was exceptional when forcing mismatches with Deandre Ayton. In just 40 seconds of matchup time, Curry scored 13 points on 4-5 shooting from the field and 3-4 from 3-point range.