The first half of the season is coming to a close with the All-Star break just two weeks away but there are still plenty of NBA games to get excited about. On Tuesday, the TNT doubleheader will open up with the Boston Celtics at the Dallas Mavericks. This is followed by a 2019 playoff rematch between the Portland Trailblazers and the Denver Nuggets.
ESPN Wednesday’s doubleheader is equally enticing with the Golden State Warriors visiting the Indiana Pacers. The evening’s headliner is a potential playoff preview with the Los Angeles Lakers visiting the mighty Utah Jazz. What are some storylines to look at? Which one of these will be the best game? And most importantly, who will win?
Week 9 NBA Games Preview
Tuesday NBA Games
Celtics at Mavericks
This will be the first time Luka Doncic faces off against the Celtics since the beginning of last season. When these two teams met last season, they were both on the rise and playing well. This season has been the opposite story. Boston and Dallas have both struggled mightily as they have a combined 29-30 record. Kristaps Porzingis did not play in Dallas’ win on Monday, so his status for the Celtics game is still up in the air. If he does not play then Boston will likely have an easy win on their hands against the 27th ranked defense in the NBA.
All-NBA wings Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown should be able to feast against the Mavericks. Despite the addition of Josh Richardson to help on the defensive end, he is far too small to guard either Tatum or Brown. As great as Doncic is, he probably isn’t enough by himself to beat a struggling Celtics team without defensive ace Marcus Smart. This is the iffiest of the NBA games on the slate as it could truly go either way. A blowout for either team would not be a surprise, but neither would overtime.
Blazers at Nuggets
These two teams had an epic seven-game series back in 2019 including an insanely rare quadruple overtime game. This game probably won’t be quite that competitive but it should be a great offensive showcase between two MVP candidates in Damian Lillard and Nikola Jokic. Both of these superstars are trying their best to carry their injury-riddled squads into the playoffs, and so far Lillard has done the superior job. He has Portland as the fifth seed in the west and a full two games above the Nuggets.
Denver has missed a few role players here and there, but that doesn’t compare to how the Trailblazers have been without their second and third best players for most of the season so far. Considering that Portland is 7-3 in their last 10 with Lillard on an absolute roll, they should be the favorites in this game. The X factor in this matchup is going to be Enes Kanter who is known as a great offensive center but is also a defensive liability. If he can limit Jokic at all, this is the Trailblazers game to lose. Either way, this should be one of the best NBA games of the season, even without any defense.
Wednesday NBA Games
Warriors superstar Stephen Curry missed their last game against Charlotte and is questionable in Tuesday’s tilt against the New York Knicks. Curry can make or break this game. Both teams are hovering around .500 and are some of the most fun teams to watch. The Domantas Sabonis and Malcolm Brogdon pairing is up there with the best duos in the eastern conference. Curry, on the other hand, does not have an all-star level running mate (sorry Draymond Green), but he is an all-star duo all by himself. I don’t think it’s controversial to say that Curry is the best show in basketball.
If Curry does play then this game should be an instant classic. Might even see an overtime or two. However, if Curry is still too sick to play then the Pacers will walk away with an easy win. The Warriors’ center depth is depleted by injuries so Sabonis should have his way in the paint. Not to mention that Golden State’s offense lives and dies with Curry. With Curry’s status up in the air, it is hard to make an accurate prediction for this NBA game.
Winner: Pacers (Unless Curry plays)
Lakers at Jazz
If the Lakers were at full strength, this is probably in contention for the game of the year. The Lakers were in the midst of their longest win streak of the year when Anthony Davis got hurt against the Nuggets. To make matters worse, just hours before tip-off against the Brooklyn Nets, Dennis Schröder was ruled out. He will also be absent for the Jazz game. Now they are in the middle of a three-game skid while the Jazz are still rolling over almost every team they face.
Considering how LeBron James and the Lakers looked against the lowly Washington Wizards, it is hard to say the Lakers will even make this game competitive. What should have been one of the best NBA games all year will now most likely result in the easiest win all year for the Jazz. Utah could probably sit both Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley and still come out victorious.
Winner: Jazz (By a lot)
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