Tune-In Tidbits: TNT Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021
Get ready for Tuesday's TNT doubleheader with five key stats to know about each matchup.
Brian Martin, for NBA.com
Celtics (15-15) at Mavericks (14-15)
• Luka Doncic continues to lead the league in scoring off of drives, averaging 14.4 points on 23.5 drives per game. The Celtics have a top-10 rim protector in Daniel Theis, who holds opponents to 52.5% shooting at the basket.
• When the All-Star reserves are announced tonight, will Jaylen Brown earn his first All-Star nod? He ranks 13th in the league in scoring with a career-best 25.5 ppg — one of many career high marks for Brown along with assists (3.9 apg), field goal percentage (49.7%), 3-point percentage (40.9%) and free throw percentage (76.6%).
• Kristaps Porzingis made his season debut on Jan. 13 following offseason knee surgery. In nine games in January he averaged 18.6 ppg on 44.9% shooting from the field and 28.6% on 3-pointers. Through the first eight games of February, Porzingis’ numbers have made a significant jump — 22.8 ppg, 50.0% shooting from the field, 42.3% on 3-pointers, and his assists have doubled to 1.8 per game.
• Last season, Marcus Smart was the primary defender on Luka Doncic for a team-high 7:21 of matchup time and held Doncic to four points on 1-for-5 shooting. With Smart sidelined due to injury, will Brown (allowed three points on 2-4 FG in 2:03 of matchup time) or Jayson Tatum (allowed eight points on 3-4 FG in 1:25 of matchup time) be able to fill that defensive void?
• Boston has won three straight and seven of the last eight meetings with the Mavericks dating back to the start of the 2016-17 season.
Blazers (18-12) at Nuggets (16-14)
• Damian Lillard ranks fifth in the NBA in usage rate as he finishes 31.6% of Portland’s offensive possessions while he’s on the court. This is the highest usage rate of his career and has seen leap since the Blazers lost CJ McCollum to injury on Jan. 16. In 13 games prior to McCollum being out, Lillard’s usage was at 28.8%; in the 16 games since McCollum went out, Lillard’s usage has increased to 33.9%.
• The Nuggets have shot at least 51% from the field and 44% from 3-point range in each of their past three games. Only three teams have ever put together at least a four-game streak of such shooting efficiency; the last team do it was the 2017-18 Utah Jazz (Jan. 30 – Feb. 4, 2018). The Blazers had a four-game streak in 1987, while the longest streak belongs to the Indiana Pacers with five in a row (April 13-20, 1994).
• The Blazers (31.7 ppg) and Nuggets (31.4 ppg) rank first and second, respectively in first-quarter scoring, with the Nuggets taking an average lead of 3.9 points (highest in NBA) into the second quarter.
• Nikola Jokic continues posting career-best numbers in nearly every category this season — 26.6 ppg (10th), 11.1 rpg (11th), 8.5 apg (5th) and 1.7 spg (4th). He leads all centers in assists and steals this season and is on pace to become only the second center to average at least eight assists per game, joining Wilt Chamberlain in 1967-68 (8.6 apg).
• The Blazers are coming off a 132-100 loss to Phoenix on Monday — it was Portland’s most lopsided loss since falling by 43 points to Milwaukee on Nov. 21, 2018. The Blazers look to bounce back less than 24 hours later as they play their sixth back-to-back of the season. They are 3-2 on the second night of a back-to-back and have averaged 119.2 points per game, which is 4.1 ppg greater than their season average.