Starting 5 Daily Newsletter

Starting 5, Feb. 22: Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, Kevin Durant & the home stretch

Three All-Stars are in the midst of historic campaigns as the NBA gears up for the stretch run of 2023-24.

Starting 5

Can you feel it?

That’s what the home stretch feels like. To have less than two months and fewer than 30 games left per team to sort out Playoff races, awards races and … baby races.

For the Starting 5, today marks edition No. 141. The best part so far? Hearing from you. What you like (and what you don’t). What you want to see more of (and less of). Your predictions – some of them coming true, some … not so much. (Or not yet, at least)

So as we head into the final third of the season, drop us a note and let us know what else you’d like to see each day. And share this link with a friend to get ’em in.

For now, here. we. go.


  1. 📖 Home stretch stories
  2. 💦 A year of 1sts for Steph
  3. 💥 12-game Thursday coming
  4. 📅 Key dates & milestone watch
  5. 5️ Starting 5, ICYMI

A TNT doubleheader featuring Suns-Mavs (7:30 ET, TNT) and Lakers-Warriors (10 ET, TNT) – all red-hot going into the break – highlights a 12-game night that also sees the No. 2 & No. 3 team in the West square off.

Need to catch up? The Celtics lead John Schuhmann’s latest Power Rankings … Jamal Crawford’s latest Mailbag asks which teams could rise … Shaun Powell lays out his 10 biggest questions … and you can find the 10 standout All-Star moments right here.


What are you looking at when the season starts up again tonight?

With 820 games down and 410 left to go, exactly one-third of the NBA season remains  – even though we’re hitting the part of the year commonly called the ‘second half’. So we asked the Starting 5 team to shout out a few of the stories on their radar heading into the home stretch.

The Wild West: Last year, one of the closest Playoff races in history came down to the season’s final days. This year’s trending in that direction, with four teams separated by three games atop the conference … then four more separated by 1.5 from 4th to 8th.

  • Can Minnesota keep going?  The Wolves led at the break for the first time ever, with the most wins (39) they’ve ever had by All-Star. And though GM’s picked Ant to be the breakout player of the year, Minny didn’t get any votes to be among the West’s best. Can they continue to surprise?
  • Rising Thunder roll along: If OKC – who got just one vote to finish 4th – were to win the West, they’d be the youngest team in history to win a conference
  • LA story: At 28-7 since Dec. 2, the Clippers – led by the LA-born Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden and Russell Westbrook – have rolled off the best 35-game mark for the franchise since 2012-13
  • The champs: Three games back, Denver’s getting one of the best seasons of Nikola Jokic’s career

Can anyone catch the Celtics? Dominant all season, it took 20 games for the Celtics to lose at home. Up 6 in the East, they own the NBA’s best offense & third-best defense.

  • Here come the Cavs: Cleveland has the league’s best record since Jan. 1 and Feb. 1, with its eyes on making it past the First Round for the first time since 2017-18
  • Bucks locking down? Milwaukee’s put up points all year, but ranked 19th in DefRtg as of Feb. 1. Since then, they’re ninth
  • In the mix: Can the Knicks & Sixers get back to full strength & go on a run? What does defending East champ Miami have in store? How about Indy, and the league’s top offense?

What do Steph & LeBron have in store? Steph Curry’s propelled the Warriors to eight wins in their last 10. LeBron’s led the Lakers to six of seven and eight of 11. At this time last year, the Dubs & Lakers sat in 10th and 13th place, then met in the Conference Semis. Can both teams make a run?

The MVP race: While Jokic & Giannis have made themselves top contenders, again, a few new names have entered Michael C. Wright’s Kia Race to the MVP – including OKC’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Boston’s Jayson Tatum, LA’s Leonard & Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis.

Wemby, Chet & the rookies: Wembanyama’s putting up numbers and performances (and viral moments) that the league’s rarely seen before, and leads Steve Aschburner’s Kia Rookie Ladder. Chet Holmgren’s playing major minutes for a contender, and is on pace to become the first player ever to have 2.5 blocks per game while shooting 39% or better from 3 (min. 20 attempts). Tap in for how the rooks are stacking up this year.

What are yours? Tap in for more stories, and here to let us know what you’re following.


When Stephen Curry and the 10th-place Warriors host the ninth-place Lakers in San Francisco tonight (10 ET, TNT), Curry will be doing it in the middle of one of the best years of his career.


Curry’s clutch run: With the Warriors tinkering with lineups and finding their groove early in the year, Curry’s come through over and over again late, leading the NBA in clutch scoring and rattling off a new set of ‘firsts’.

  • He became the first player in NBA history to make 7+ 3-pointers in four consecutive games
  • He also became the first to make 4+ in 14 straight, a mark he held to start the season
  • 3rd Player With 60 On 10+ Treys: When he put up his second-career 60-spot on Feb. 3, it was the first time he’d done so with 10+ 3s … and just the fourth time it’s ever happened

He also just won the first-ever NBA vs. WNBA 3-Point Challenge, going for 29 to defeat Sabrina Ionescu’s score of 26 – which tied the best total in the 2024 Starry 3-Point Contest. Missed history? Relive it here.


Dallas vs. Phoenix (7:30 ET, TNT) showcases two major things: five of the best scorers in all of the NBA (and NBA history), and two teams who flew into the All-Star break on fire.

  • Top 10 among active players: Luka Doncic (1st at 34.2), Kevin Durant (5th at 28.2) and Devin Booker (8th at 27.5) all rank Top 10 in career PPG among active players. Kyrie Irving and Bradley Beal rank 12th and 16th, respectively
  • Top under 25: Booker, Durant and Doncic all rank in the Top 10 all-time in career points before the age of 25
  • 6 straight for Dallas: The Mavs picked up their season-high sixth straight win on their final game of the break, when they came back from 15 down to beat Wemby & the Spurs
  • Phoenix rising: At 11th in the standings in late December, the Suns have roared into sixth on the strength of the league’s fourth-best record since Jan. 1

Battle for 2nd: Whoever wins Thunder-Clippers (8 ET, NBA App ), will take sole possession of second in the Western Conference. (Which has normally been safe for about a day this year.)

  • Thunder in second: Just 1.5 games behind the Timberwolves in first place, Oklahoma City’s sat at 3rd or better in the West since Nov. 17 – with the exception of three days in February, when they went 1-2 in a clump of teams separated by 1 game
  • Said SGA: “I think we’re starting to kind of see others take notice of us. We knew that was going to happen once we started winning games. It comes with the territory.”
  • Clippers’ historic run: Like the Suns, LA’s charged up the standings hard on the strength of the league’s best record since Dec. 1, becoming the second team ever to go from 11th in the standings on Nov. 16 to first by Feb. 6 (they’ve gone 2-2 since then)

What else?

  • The Cavs host the Magic (7 ET, NBA App ) – with Orlando at 7-3 over their last 10
  • Kyle Lowry, who grew up in Philly, makes his Philadelphia 76ers debut when the Sixers meet the fourth-place Knicks (7 ET, NBA App) – a team just ahead of them


Between now and April 14, when the regular season finishes with a 15-game Sunday, the NBA schedule has just two more days without games: April 8 and April 13.

In four months (four months and a day if the NBA Finals go seven), we’ll have a new champ.

What dates should you know between now & the Finals? (Tap here for NBA Draft dates, including the first-ever two-day Draft.)

April 16-19, NBA Play-In Tournament: The postseason starts with the NBA Play-In Tournament, where the teams with the seventh to tenth-best winning percentages in both conferences compete for the 7th and 8th seeds in the NBA Playoffs.

April 20, NBA Playoffs : Eight teams from both conferences battle for a spot in the NBA Finals.

  • May 6-7: Conference Semifinals begin, with a possible move-up to May 4-5
  • May 21-22: Conference Finals begin, with a possible move-up to May 19-20
  • June 6: NBA Finals Game 1
  • June 9: NBA Finals 2024 Game 2
  • June 12: NBA Finals 2024 Game 3
  • June 14: NBA Finals 2024 Game 4
  • June 17: NBA Finals 2024 Game 5 (if necessary)
  • June 20: NBA Finals 2024 Game 6 (if necessary)
  • June 23: NBA Finals 2024 Game 7 (if necessary)

Any major milestones?

LeBron Nearing 40k: A year after breaking one of the most famous records in sports, King James needs 132 points to become the first player to reach 40,000 for his career. At his current 24.8 ppg pace, that puts him just over five games away. Here’s his schedule.

KD 45 from 9th: Kevin Durant stands just 45 points from passing Carmelo Anthony into 9th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, as one of the purest scorers the game’s ever seen passes another who fits that bill. Three years ago, Durant passed Melo as Team USA’s all-time leader.

Harden closing in on 2nd: James Harden needs 84 treys to pass Ray Allen into second place on the list of all-time 3’s. Tap for 5 of his best stepbacks ever, in celebration of passing Reggie Miller last year.

Even more milestones: Here’s a closer look at every player milestone that is within reach as we head for the stretch run in 2023-24.


Since the Starting 5 debuted on Oct. 3, we’ve had about 200,000 words of hoops.

Not all of them have come from us.

We’ve had a couple big names stop by to tell their story. In case you missed any of them – or if you’re just looking for parenting advice from a superstar or flight advice from the head of the coaches association – find a few of em here.