The NBA on TNT is back with another exciting double-header for diehard basketball fans as a handful of superstars hope to lead their team to wins underneath the national spotlight. The Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers are first up on the docket, followed by a late-night tilt between the Denver Nuggets and Dallas Mavericks.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis are on a helluva heater, Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell are quickly establishing themselves as the premier backcourt in the NBA, and Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic are still begging the question, what is in that eastern European water? Don’t forget to visit DraftKings for all your sports betting needs.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Los Angeles Lakers (6:30 PM CT)
Anthony Davis has arguably been the best player in the NBA over the last three weeks, averaging an unbelievable 35.3 points and 15.6 rebounds on .648/.455/.880 shooting splits across that stretch. The eight-time All-Star is fresh off a season-high 55 points, where he punished Kristaps Porzingis inside the paint while leading the Lakers to their third straight victory.
Although Los Angeles is in 13th place in the Western Conference entering tonight, they are just 1.5 games outside of the play-in picture, with LeBron James rounding into form at the perfect time. King James will have plenty of motivation to perform as he makes his annual homecoming to the place where his decorated NBA career commenced nearly 20 years ago.
The Cavaliers struggled to find any success in the immediate aftermath of LeBron’s second departure. However, after a half-decade of savvy trades, intelligent salary cap management, and exceptional draft selections under General Manager Koby Altman, Cleveland has gone from bottom feeder to a potential title contender much quicker than anyone expected.
All-Star combo guards Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland headline one of the highest-scoring backcourts in the league, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen form a formidable rim-protecting frontcourt, and Kevin Love delivers sharpshooting off the bench. Though the oddsmakers favor the Cavs, you might want to gamble some money on the upstart visitors.
Denver Nuggets vs. Dallas Mavericks (9:00 PM CT)
This statement might sound absurd if you only look at per-game numbers, but Nikola Jokic should be in the early conversation to take home his third consecutive regular-season MVP. Despite a notable decline in scoring and rebounding this season, the slick Serbian center is recording career-highs in shooting efficiency and assists for a top-four team out West.
While the Joker has been the engine for the Nuggets and their high-flying offense, he has received much-welcomed support from Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray. Adding veterans Bruce Brown and Kentavius Caldwell-Pope has supplied the roster with the depth it desperately needed, which makes Denver an imposing opponent even when shorthanded.
Luka Doncic should also be in the MVP discussion with how he has nearly single-handedly kept the Mavericks from bottoming out. The 23-year-old superstar leads the NBA in points (33.4), paces all guards in boards (8.5), ranks sixth in assists (8.5), and his nightly dominance has him eight triple-doubles from pulling even with Larry Bird on the all-time leaderboard.
Dallas has won three of their last four contests after a season-worst four-game losing streak, claiming victories over the Warriors, Knicks, and Suns. An embarrassing overtime defeat at the hands of the Pistons marred what was otherwise an encouraging week of basketball, and that loss is one of the reasons it’s tough to trust them to keep things rolling in Denver.