While it is first and foremost a much more meaningful and significant day than just a full day of basketball, the 12 NBA games that will air on Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, January 17th, 2022 will be a 12-hour stretch of paradise for hoops fanatics. Wait, 12 hours? Oh yes. The first game tips off at 12:30pm, and the last game commences ten hours later at 10:30pm. 12 games is a lot, so let’s get these NBA game previews going. Three nuggets for each game.
12 NBA Game Previews for MLK Day
(all times listed Eastern Standard)
New Orleans Pelicans at Boston Celtics | 12:30pm – League Pass
- NBA MLK Day begins with a battle of the Hernangomez brothers! Willy Hernangomez of the Pelicans vs. Juancho Hernangomez of the Celtics. By all accounts, the Spaniard bros are two of the nicest and best teammates in the league.
- The stars highlighting this matchup are also linked: Brandon Ingram was the 2nd overall pick in the 2016 draft while Jaylen Brown was the very next pick at #3. And Jayson Tatum went to Duke the year after Ingram played for Coach K. (Tatum was the 3rd overall pick in the 2017 draft.)
- New Orleans went 2-0 vs. Boston last season, however, Zion Williamson scored 28 points in both meetings. Zion is still without a timetable to return, no new developments on his status in quite some time.
Charlotte Hornets at New York Knicks | 1:00pm – NBA TV
- The first thing that comes to mind with this matchup is Devonte’ Graham’s 3-point game-winner at MSG back in November 2019 when Eric Collins, of course, had an epic call: “He did it! HE DID IT! Devonte’ Graham! Good for the cat burglar!!” (Graham will be suiting up for the Pelicans in the game above.)
- The Hornets and Knicks are linked from a trade in last year’s draft. The Knicks traded the #19 pick, Kai Jones, to Charlotte for a first-round pick in this year’s draft which the Knicks just sent to Atlanta in the Cam Reddish deal. Jones has only played in 12 games so far this season, but perhaps head coach James Borrego will give the rookie a chance to show the team that originally drafted him what they missed out on.
- In the first matchup between these two back on November 12th, Kemba Walker scored 17 points in the 1st quarter against his former team, and the Knicks led 34-18 after the 1st frame. But then the Knicks fell apart like a 3-dollar suitcase, outscored by 24 points over the next three quarters in a shocking loss. That was also the night we were treated to Obi Toppin and Miles Bridges back-to-back windmills.
Philadelphia 76ers at Washington Wizards | 2:00pm – League Pass
- The Sixers remain red-hot aboard the W train, rolling though South Beach and wiping out the Heat on Saturday night behind another 30+ points from Joel Embiid.
- Not so red-hot, the Wizards suffered a bad loss on Saturday night at home to the Blazers. It was just the Blazers third win on the road this season. The Wizards hot start to the season has long been in the rear view.
- In the first matchup between these two on the day after Christmas, the Sixers beat the Wizards by 21. Bradley Beal didn’t play in that first game, and Beal is Questionable to play on MLK Day, having been out in the health and safety protocols for a second time this season.
Brooklyn Nets at Cleveland Cavaliers | 3:00pm – League Pass
- The first thing that comes to mind with this matchup is last year’s outstanding 42-point performance by Collin Sexton against the Nets in a wild 2OT Cavs win that saw Sexton score 20 straight points. He had Kevin Love and JaVale McGee hugging like long lost reunited relatives.
- Unfortunately, Sexton will not be on the court on MLK Day, a torn meniscus back in November ended his season early. Kevin Durant will also not play after suffering a sprained MCL in his left knee on Saturday night against the Pelicans. KD is expected to miss the next four to six weeks.
- Kyrie Irving will be playing since this is a Nets road game. It’s Kyrie’s fourth game of the season and against the team that drafted him and he won a championship with. Also, keep an eye out for a Jarrett Allen Revenge Game as the 7-foot fro power-dunker and power-blocker takes on the team that drafted him and traded him last season. (A lot of Revenge Game potential!)
Chicago Bulls at Memphis Grizzlies | 3:30pm – TNT
- After a late-game meltdown in Boston on Saturday night, the Bulls have lost three games in a row now for the first time all season. Zach LaVine joins the list of players out on Monday, dealing with a knee injury suffered at the beginning of Friday night’s loss to the Warriors.
- The Memphis Grizzlies are also coming off a loss, the first Grizzlies loss since December 23rd. The Grizz are still a pristine 21-5 over the last 26 games, dominating all facets of the game: ranked 1st in steals, rebounds, blocks, second chance points, fast break points and points in the paint.
- Can’t preview a Bulls-Grizzlies game without mentioning two upcoming All-Stars: DeMar DeRozan and Ja Morant. At this point, they are All-Star Game guaranteed. Quick aside: Did you know that the Bulls lead the NBA in 3-point percentage? (The Grizz are 21st.)
Indiana Pacers at Los Angeles Clippers | 3:30pm – League Pass
- Both of these teams were featured in January Hot and Not but neither for being hot. The Pacers have lost nine out of the last ten games, and the Clippers have the worst offensive rating in the league in January, scoring a LOW 99.8 points per 100 possessions.
- The last time the Clippers lost to the Pacers (they have won four in a row against Indy), Sindarius Thornwell was in the Clippers starting lineup along with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Patrick Beverly, Danilo Gallinari and Montrezl Harrell. It wasn’t that long ago, February 2019, and none of those Clippers remain on the team. (Pat Bev was the only one still on the roster last season.)
- Myles Turner, forever on the trading block, has a sore left foot and will be out for this game. Paul George has been out since just before Christmas with a torn ligament in his right elbow. Some recent reports suggest that PG could be done for the season.
Milwaukee Bucks at Atlanta Hawks | 6:00pm – TNT
- It’s a rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals, but there will be no Game 6 Cam Reddish walking through the door.
- The Hawks have not won a home game since November 22nd and currently ride a 5-game losing streak into this matchup. Meanwhile, the Bucks were defeated by the Raptors 103-96 at home on Saturday night and are on an uncharacteristic stretch of losing five out of the last seven games.
- The Bucks have missed Jrue Holiday. He’s been out since January 5th, dealing with an ankle injury, but Coach Bud says it’s not too serious. No official word on if he’ll play on Monday. Who has been playing lights-out? Crazy Eyes Bobby Portis!
Portland Trail Blazers at Orlando Magic | 7:00pm – League Pass
- Straight up, Anfernee Simons has been playing like he’s Damian Lillard, averaging 28 points and five made 3-pointers over the last six games.
- The Magic have not won a home game since December 1st against the Nuggets, and they haven’t won a game vs. the Blazers since January of 2017.
- Who will Moe Wagner get in a fight with today? He’s been in two kerfuffles the last two games, most recently with Luka Doncic who asked him, “Who the f— are you!?”
Toronto Raptors at Miami Heat | 7:30pm – League Pass
- Kyle Lowry vs. the Raptors just feels so wrong. This is Lowry’s first game against his former team that he played nine seasons and won a championship with.
- Fred VanVleet was once a Kyle Lowry protege, but sometimes the student becomes the master. VanVleet is averaging a career-high 21.9 points per game this season, a number that Lowry bested just one time in his tenure as a Raptor.
- Reports have indicated that Bam Adebayo could make his return to action on Monday. It would be Bam’s first game since November 29th after undergoing surgery on his right thumb.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Dallas Mavericks | 8:30pm – League Pass
- Trending in opposite directions: Dallas has won eight out of the last nine games while OKC has lost six of the last seven.
- Both hailing from the 2018 draft class, Luka Doncic (3rd pick) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (11th pick) have faced off five times in their four-year careers, but it’s been since January of 2020. SGA holds a slight edge at 3-2.
- The Mavericks beat the Thunder by 19 last month without Luka, holding OKC to just 13 fourth quarter points.
Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs | 8:30pm – League Pass
- The Spurs put an end to their 5-game losing streak on Saturday night, defeating the Clippers 101-94 behind a sound team effort that included seven double-digit scorers.
- Phoenix will be on the second night of a back-to-back, walloping the Pistons 135-108 in the Sunday afternoon matinee. The Suns had six double-digit scorers of their own.
- These two have already played twice. Both were Suns four-point victories. (Will San Antonio have its own Raptor waiting for Devin Booker?)
Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Lakers | 10:30pm – NBA TV
- In the Lakers lone win against the Jazz last season, Andre Drummond was the leading scorer with 27 points. Talen-Horton Tucker is the only Laker still on the roster from that game.
- The Jazz are on the second night of a back-to-back, having taken care of the Nuggets last night in Denver in Rudy Gobert‘s return from the protocols. The Jazz defense was still shaky up until the fourth quarter.
- Speaking of leaky defense: during the Lakers current 3-game losing streak, Lakers opponents are averaging a ridiculous 128 points per game. However, there is a King’s promise from LeBron James in the air:
#LakerNation I apologize and I promise we’ll be better! 👑💜💛
— LeBron James (@KingJames) January 17, 2022
The best Monday of the year awaits.