Every Monday we will tell you what you need to know heading into a new week of NBA action.
1. Can anyone slow down Luka Doncic?
While speaking to a group of reporters on Thursday, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich marveled at the 60/21/10 performance from Luka Doncic just a few nights prior in a win against New York. “There’s always something in our lives that makes you say, ‘I can’t believe that happened.’ That was one of them for sure.”
Near the end of the press conference, a reporter jokingly asked Popovich if his Spurs would hold Doncic under 60 when the teams met on Saturday. Pop played along and jokingly said: “50 is going to be our goal. We’re holding Luka under 50. Quote.”
Popovich’s in jest guarantee didn’t hold as Luka dropped 51 on the Spurs to lead the Mavericks to a 126-125 win for their sixth consecutive victory. This was Luka’s third 50-plus point game of the season – and all three have come in the past 10 days as Doncic is in an unbelievable zone at the moment.
Here are his last five games:
|Dec 31: DAL @ SAS||51||6||9||4||18||62.1||6||60||9||60|
|Dec 29: DAL vs. HOU||35||12||13||1||11||52.4||4||44.4||9||75|
|Dec 27: DAL vs. NYK||60||21||10||2||21||67.7||2||33.3||16||72.7|
|Dec 25: DAL vs. LAL||32||9||9||2||9||56.3||2||66.7||12||75|
|Dec 23: DAL @ HOU||50||8||10||3||17||56.7||6||50||10||83.3|
Doncic has not only ascended to the top of the league leaders in scoring at 34.2 points per game on the season, but he’s also done so while leading the Mavericks to six straight wins – the second-longest win streak in the league – as Dallas opens Week 12 in fourth place in the Western Conference.
Dallas has four games on its schedule this week. Will any of these teams find a way to slow down Doncic?
Monday at Houston, 8 p.m. ET (League Pass)
- Season (2 Games, 2-0): 42.5 PPG. 10.0 RPG, 11.5 APG, 5.0 3PG, 54.9% FG, 47.6% 3P
- Career (13 Games): 28.7 PPG, 10.4 RPG, 7.7 APG, 2.8 3PG, 45.4% FG, 31.3% 3P
Thursday vs. Boston, 7:30 p.m. ET (TNT)
- Season (Nov. 23, Loss): 42 PTS, 8 REB, 9 AST, 17-28 FG, 3-8 3P
- Career (8 Games): 29.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 7.0 APG, 4.4 3PG, 54.3% FG, 50.7% 3P
Saturday vs. New Orleans, 8 p.m. ET (League Pass)
- Season (Oct. 25, Loss): 37 PTS, 11 REB, 7 AST, 16-30 FG, 2-13 3P
- Career (15 Games): 29.7 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 8.3 APG, 3.2 3PG, 49.2% FG, 36.4% 3P
Sunday at Oklahoma City, 7 p.m. ET (League Pass)
- Season (2 Games, 1-1): 34.5 PPG, 13.5 RPG, 9.0 APG, 1.5 3PG, 42.0% FG, 18.8% 3P
- Career (11 Games): 26.9 PPG, 8.4 RPG, 7.9 APG, 2.7 3PG, 43.9% FG, 30.0% 3P
2. Can the Nets keep their win streak going in 2023?
No team closed out 2022 better than the Brooklyn Nets as they have won 11 straight (streak began on Dec. 7) and 15 of their last 16 games (run began on Nov. 27).
The 11-game winning streak is already the longest in the Brooklyn era, and with four games on the schedule this week, the Nets have a chance to top their all-time mark of 14 straight wins. The franchise has two 14-game win streaks from the New Jersey era: Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2004 and March 12-April 6, 2006.
Here’s a look at this week’s schedule for Brooklyn:
Monday vs. San Antonio, 7:30 p.m. ET (League Pass)
- Previous Meeting (None this season): This is the first game of the season with the Spurs. Brooklyn has won five straight head-to-head matchups dating back to March 2020.
Wednesday at Chicago, 8 p.m. ET (League Pass)
- Previous Meeting (Chicago 108, Brooklyn 99): Kyrie Irving held to season-low four points in his lowest-scoring game since Oct. 2018
Friday at New Orleans, 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
- Previous Meeting (New Orleans 130, Brooklyn 108): Kevin Durant’s 32 points were not enough to combat the Pelicans’ trio of 20+ point scorers – Brandon Ingram (28), Zion Williamson (25) and CJ McCollum (21)
Sunday at Miami, 6 p.m. ET (League Pass)
- Previous Meeting (None this season): This is the first game of the season with the Heat. Miami has won four of the past five games against the Nets, with Brooklyn winning the most recent matchup on March 26, 2022.
Winning away from home has not been a problem for the Nets during this win streak as seven of the 11 wins have come away from Barclays Center. The Nets are 12-7 (.632) on the road so far this season, ranking second behind Boston (17-11, .647) for the top road record in the NBA.
3. National TV Spotlight: Four must-see games on NBA TV
Wednesday: Milwaukee at Toronto, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
While the Bucks hold impressive win streaks against a number of teams – eight straight wins over Indiana, 12 straight over Orlando, 13 straight over Sacramento – one team that has given the Bucks problems over the past few seasons is the Raptors as Toronto holds the longest active win streak against the Bucks with five straight wins in head-to-head matchups. Can they keep that streak going on Wednesday? A lot may come down to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s availability – he was out for Sunday’s loss to Washington with left knee soreness.
Over his last six games, Giannis is averaging 38 points and 14.6 rebounds, including back-to-back 40-point, 20-rebound games, becoming the first player to accomplish that feat since 1982.
Thursday: Boston at Dallas, 7:30 p.m. ET, TNT
This is a matchup of the top team in the Eastern Conference (Boston at 26-11) and the hottest team in the Western Conference (Dallas at 21-16 and riding a six-game win streak). This game also features the top two young scorers in the NBA in Luka Doncic (34.2 ppg) and Jayson Tatum (30.9 ppg) as they lead a group of 15 players under the age of 25 averaging at least 20 points per game this season. In their first matchup on Nov. 23, Doncic scored a game-high 42 points, but Boston got the win behind 37 points from Tatum and 31 from Jaylen Brown.
Friday: Brooklyn at New Orleans, 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
If the Nets can keep their win streak alive against San Antonio (Monday) and Chicago (Wednesday), they would enter Friday’s matchup with the Pelicans looking to match their franchise record with 14 straight wins. Brooklyn’s win streak has lifted them to second in the East at 24-12, while the Pelicans sit in third in the West at 23-13 entering Week 12. As mentioned above, New Orleans won the first meeting with Brooklyn this season back on Oct. 19 in the season opener for both teams. After starting the season 9-11 through 20 games, the Nets have gone 15-1 since as they have found their stride.
4. NBA League Pass Games to Watch: Five games to circle
Monday: San Antonio at Brooklyn, 7:30 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass
Monday: Dallas at Houston, 8 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass
Begin your week on NBA League Pass by catching the two hottest teams in their respective conferences – Brooklyn going for their 12th straight win as they host the Spurs and Dallas going for seven in a row when they visit Houston. Sure, this may require some bouncing back and forth between teams, but the staggered start times mean you should be able to catch crunch time in both games.
Tuesday: Sacramento at Utah, 9 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass
This is a follow-up to a great game from Friday night in Sacramento as the Kings edged out the Jazz 126-125 thanks to a game-winning 3-pointer by Kevin Huerter with nine seconds to play. That game featured six ties and 11 lead changes – all coming in the fourth quarter. Can these two teams recreate that drama in Salt Lake City on Tuesday?
Saturday: New Orleans at Dallas, 8 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass
This entire entry could consist of just three words: Luka versus Zion. But if you’re looking for a bit more, here you go. Entering Week 12, the top seven teams in the Western Conference are separated by less than five games, with New Orleans (23-13) and Dallas (21-16) ranked third and fourth, respectively. With so much parity in the West, head-to-head matchups may end up being critically important when it comes to the race to the playoffs. New Orleans won the first meeting with the Mavericks back on Oct. 25, so another win would mean the Pelicans could do no worse than a split of the four-game season series.
Sunday: Utah at Memphis, 6 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass
This is a matchup of two teams heading in opposite directions entering Week 12. The Grizzlies have won three in a row and have climbed to second place in the West, just a game back of Denver. Meanwhile, Utah has lost four straight games (all by five points or less) to fall to 10th place in the West. However, when these two teams met for a two-game set at the end of October, it was the Jazz that won both meetings. Can they make it three in a row against the Grizzlies, or will Ja Morant and Co. have an answer this time around?
5. NBA Trivia: Longest Win Streaks
Saturday marks the anniversary of the Los Angeles Lakers defeating the Atlanta Hawks for their 33rd straight win – the longest winning streak not only in NBA history but in all of the major American professional sports.
There have been five other instances in which a team has won 20 straight games. How many can you name?
|Team||Streak||Streak Start Date||Streak End Date||Multiple Seasons|
|Los Angeles Lakers||33||Nov. 5, 1971||Jan. 7, 1972||No|
|Golden State Warriors||28*||Apr. 9, 2015||Dec. 11, 2015||Yes*|
|Miami Heat||27||Feb. 3, 2013||Mar. 25, 2013||No|
|Houston Rockets||22||Jan. 29, 2008||Mar. 16, 2008||No|
|Milwaukee Bucks||20||Feb. 6, 1971||Mar. 8, 1971||No|
|Washington Capitols||20^||Mar. 13, 1948||Dec. 4, 1948||Yes^|
*: Last four games of 2014-15 season, first 24 games of 2015-16 season
^: Last five games of 1947-48 season, first 15 games of 1948-49 season
Bonus Fact: The 15-0 start to the season by the 1948-49 Washington Capitols stood as the best start to a season until the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors topped the mark by starting the season 24-0. The 1993-94 Houston Rockets had tied the Capitols’ mark, but no team broke the record until the Warriors.