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Viewer's Guide: NBA on MLK Day 2023

Everything you need to know for Monday's 9-game slate, including 4 nationally-televised matchups.

Monday marks the 37th year of the NBA celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a full slate of games and off-court activities that promote equality and social justice. Since his birthday became a federal holiday in 1983 (first observed in 1986), the NBA remains committed to furthering Dr. King’s fight for equality and justice.

There have been 358 NBA games played on MLK Day and Monday will add nine more to that list, including four nationally-televised games on TNT and NBA TV and another five games available on League Pass.

Here is your guide to a full day of hoops on Monday as we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. King.

National TV Games

Boston at Charlotte, 1 p.m. ET, NBA TV

This is a matchup of teams at polar opposites of the Eastern Conference standings. The Celtics enter MLK Day with the top record in the NBA (32-12) and the longest active win streak in the East with six consecutive wins – only Memphis has a longer active win streak with nine in a row. Jayson Tatum is averaging 29.8 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists during the win streak. Jaylen Brown (27 ppg in four games played during the streak) has missed the last two games with an adductor injury and his status for Monday has yet to be announced. Meanwhile, the Hornets are just 11-33 on the season and have lost four in a row entering Monday’s matchup with the Celtics. Boston won its last four games played on MLK Day, a run that began in 2017 with a win over Charlotte.

Miami at Atlanta, 3:30 p.m. ET, TNT 

This is a rematch of last year’s first-round playoff series, won by the Heat in five games.  If the regular season ended today, both the Heat (24-20) and the Hawks (21-22) would be in the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament as they rank seventh and ninth, respectively, in the standings. However, both are moving in the right direction – Miami has won three in a row and Atlanta two straight – entering their MLK Day matchup. After posting a 12-15 record through their first 27 games, the Heat have gone 12-5 in their last 17 games, led by the trio of Tyler Herro (22.7), Bam Adebayo (22.6) and Jimmy Butler (21.5) all averaging over 20 points per game during this stretch. This will be the second matchup of the season between the Heat and Hawks, with Miami posting a 106-98 win in Atlanta on Nov. 27 behind 32 points from Adebayo and a triple-double from Herro.

Phoenix at Memphis, 6 p.m. ET, TNT

This matchup features two teams headed in opposite directions in the Western Conference standings. Back on Dec. 6, the Phoenix Suns held the top spot in the West at 16-8 while the Grizzlies were third at 15-9 through 24 games. Since then, the Suns have gone just 5-15 and have dropped to 10th place in the conference while the Grizzlies have gone 14-4 and are tied with Denver for the top record in the West.  The Grizzlies are coming off a win over Indiana on Saturday that pushed their current streak to a league-best nine straight wins and set the internet ablaze with Ja Morant’s dunk-of-the-year candidate. As for the Suns, they are just 1-8 in their nine outings and have been held below 100 points four times in their last seven games.

Houston at Los Angeles Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET, NBA TV

This will be LeBron James’ 11th MLK Day game in his career. In his first 10 matchups on MLK Day, LeBron has gone just 3-7 with averages of 23.4 points on 45.1% shooting from the field and 24.4% from 3-point range, 6.1 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1.6 steals. But he won’t be the player on the floor with the most experience playing on MLK Day. Houston’s Eric Gordon has appeared in 11 MLK Day games in his 14-year career. Gordon enters Monday with a 4-7 record on MLK Day and averages of 15.9 points, 3.6 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 2.1 3-pointers made on 35.4% shooting from distance and 41.2% shooting overall.

Both teams are in action on Sunday in Los Angeles – the Rockets visiting the Clippers in the afternoon and the Lakers hosting the Sixers in the evening – so their MLK Day game will be on the second night of a back-to-back for both teams. The Lakers are 2-4 in such games, while the Rockets are 1-5.

LeBron James highlights the importance of sharing positive information and stories to create change in younger generations.

League Pass

Indiana at Milwaukee, 2:30 p.m. ET, League Pass

Both teams have been playing shorthanded recently. For Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee soreness) missed a two-game set against Miami this week and Khris Middleton (knee) remains sidelined. As for Indiana, Tyrese Haliburton (elbow, knee) is expected to miss two weeks after sustaining injuries Wednesday against New York and Myles Turner (back) has missed the past week of games – so we’ll need to keep an eye on the injury report entering Monday’s game to see which players will be able to suit up. This is the first meeting of the season between these two teams, with the Bucks sitting in third place in the East and the Pacers in eighth following three straight losses.

New Orleans at Cleveland, 3 p.m. ET, League Pass

This is the final game of a five-game road trip for the short-handed Pelicans, who are without Zion Williamson (hamstring) and Brandon Ingram (toe). They face a Cavaliers squad with the third-best home record (18-4) in the NBA.

Toronto at New York, 3 p.m. ET, League Pass

The Knicks and Raptors have split their first two meetings of the season. In those first two games, Julius Randle has averaged 31 points on 59% shooting (his highest mark against any opponent this season) and 12 rebounds for the Knicks, while Raptors forward Pascal Siakam has averaged 35 points and 11 rebounds (his highest average against any team he’s faced more than once this season, in both categories).

Golden State at Washington, 3 p.m. ET, League Pass

This is the third game of a five-game road trip for the Warriors, who have the biggest disparity between home record (17-5) and road record (4-16) in the NBA this season. In his first two games since returning from a shoulder injury that kept him sidelined for four weeks, Stephen Curry has averaged 19.5 points on 41.2% shooting from the field and 31.8% from 3-point range as he continues to work his way back to form. The Warriors have the highest win percentage of any team in MLK Day history (20-9, .690); can they build on that record against a Wizards squad that has just one win in its last five games?

Utah at Minnesota, 4 p.m. ET, League Pass

The final League Pass game on MLK Day slate concludes with Rudy Gobert and the Timberwolves hosting his previous team – the Utah Jazz – in their third matchup of the season. The road team has won the first two meetings of the season – Utah winning in Minnesota in overtime (Oct. 21) and Minnesota winning in Utah (Dec. 9). Both teams enter the MLK Day matchup in the Western Conference Play-In Tournament zone (seeds 7-10) as the Timberwolves are in seventh place at 22-22 and the Jazz are in ninth place at 22-24.