1. Oladipo set to return for Pacers
It has been nearly a full year since Victor Oladipo suited up in a game for the Indiana Pacers, but that streak will come to an end tonight vs. the Chicago Bulls (7 ET, League Pass). The Pacers have hung tough in the Eastern Conference all season and are the No. 6 seed as of this morning, but are just three games behind the Miami Heat for the No. 2 seed. It’s still unknown if Oladipo will start tonight, but rest assured some changes in on-court flow and other aspects loom for Indiana as he works himself back into the mix.
It's time.#Ready4Action pic.twitter.com/Ky70m0uk7k
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) January 29, 2020
2. Chance for Jazz to bounce back
Utah had every reason to expect to win on Monday against Houston, what with the Rockets not suiting up Russell Westbrook, James Harden or Clint Capela for that game. Yet the Jazz got roasted (thanks in large part to Eric Gordon’s 50-point game) and momentarily lost some hard-fought ground in the Western Conference standings. A trip to San Antonio is next for Utah (8:30 ET, League Pass) and another guard could stand to torment them, perhaps. DeMar DeRozan has been hot in January (26.1 ppg, 56% from field) and averaged 21.7 ppg against the Jazz last season.
The list of rookies who have taken the NBA world by storm this year is likely two: Memphis’ Ja Morant and New Orleans’ Zion Williamson. While Williamson is only four games into his career, though, Morant has been delivering thrills all season long. He’s fresh off a 14-point, six-rebound, seven-assist night in an upset of the Nuggets as he readies for his first game at Madison Square Garden (7:30 ET, League Pass). Many a legend regarding an opposing player has been born at MSG, so it will be exciting to see if Morant puts something extra in his game in his first New York performance.
4. Another Anthony reunion with Rockets
Carmelo Anthony’s first run of “reunion” games with his former teams have come and gone. But tonight (10 ET, ESPN), his Blazers host the Houston Rockets in what could be an intriguing matchup for both teams. Houston should have its full lineup back (after Westbrook, Harden and Capela sat out the team’s last game) and there’s the always exciting matchup between Damian Lillard and Westbrook. But don’t overlook Anthony and him matching up with Houston’s defensive perimeter ace, PJ Tucker. The last time these teams met, Anthony was 3-for-3 and scored nine points when Tucker guarded him.
5. On this date: The 1st All-Star Saturday
There’s a little more than two weeks to go until NBA All-Star 2020 in Chicago gets fully underway. Every year, the All-Star weekend is a spectacle unto itself in the NBA, but it wasn’t always like this. Back on Jan. 29, 1984, the first All-Star Saturday took place in Denver. Back then, there was a Schick Legends Classic (which the West won 64-63) and the first Slam Dunk Contest, which featured a thrilling showdown between the Suns’ Larry Nance (who won the event), the Sixers’ Julius Erving and the Hawks’ Dominique Wilkins.