Best games on the NBA schedule this week: The West is rising

Best games on the NBA schedule this week: The West is rising

Far from the Atlantic Ocean, some small market teams are doing major damage

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The NBA schedule this week is a barn burner.
The NBA schedule this week is a barn burner.
Image: Getty Images

Don’t let anyone tell you the NBA schedule during the regular season is a poor entertainment product. Of course, a single game does not impact a team’s overall record the same way that it does an NFL team. In the NBA teams play multiple games per week. That is not changing anytime soon, especially with the Golden State Warriors needing to host as many events as possible in their palatial $1.4 billion estate.

However, this doesn’t mean that the regular season lacks entertainment value. While the NBA regular season might lack night-to-night consequence, it provides more opportunities to see teams grow together, young players get better, and acrobatic performances only rivaled by trapeze acts.

Favorites and underdogs both had success this week. The NBA regular season has passed the halfway point. While some of the top teams are kicking butt, there are some unexpected squads letting it be known they are ready to compete come spring.

This recent energy has affected the standings. In the coming days, some of the NBA leaders will have to fend off some hungry challengers. For sports fans waiting for NFL Conference-Championship Sunday, there is plenty of NBA action to keep you satisfied if you let it.

*Disclaimer, if a player is a surprise scratch due to injury or rest, don’t get mad at us. Many of you regularly watch football games with third-string quarterbacks starting.

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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Sacramento Kings

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Sacramento Kings

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When: Monday, Jan. 23 at 10:30 p.m. EST

Where to Watch: NBA TV, Bally Sports SE, NBC Sports Bay Area

For those who haven’t taken a look at the Western Conference standings recently, the Sacramento Kings are in third place. Seeds 3-13 in the west are only separated by five games, but the fact that the Kings are at the top of that pile halfway through the season shows that this team is for real. If you feel like staying up past your bedtime on the east coast, De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis vs. Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. will be worth your time.

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Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers

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When: Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 10:00 p.m. EST

Where to Watch: TNT

One of the most complex rivalries in sports. The Lakers will always be a rival to the Clippers, but the same logic cannot be inversely applied. One franchise is the most recognizable in the NBA and the other is the league’s most recognizable loser. However, the less successful franchise is fighting for postseason positioning while the other is clawing just to get to the dance. Both got big wins on Sunday.

As much as Laker fans will turn up their noses at the idea of the Clippers being a rival, Tuesday’s game is one both teams need to win. That’s enough in late January for a rivalry.

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Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers

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When: Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. EST

Where to Watch: ESPN, YES Network, NBC Sports Philadelphia

The most disappointing teams in the NBA over the last two seasons. They participated in a midseason trade with each other last season, and both suffered disappointing playoff exits.

However, after the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks, one of these two veteran teams might be considered the next best contender out of the east come springtime. Even with Kevin Durant still sidelined, and Joel Embiid a game time decision with a foot injury, expect these two disappointments to get after each other.

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Denver Nuggets vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Denver Nuggets vs. Milwaukee Bucks

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When: Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 8:00 p.m. EST

Where to Watch: League Pass, Altitude Sports Network, Bally Sports Wisconsin

In the NBA, every team has always had to play against all of the other teams in the league. However, regular-season matchups against teams in the opposing conference are limited. This one will be the first of two this season between the Bucks and Nuggets — two NBA Championship contenders.

Giannis Antetokounmpo has missed games lately, but he should be ready to take on Nikola Jokić this week as well as Khris Middleton, who has been sidelined for most of this season. With no altitude to make players winded, expect this matchup to be a potential NBA Finals harbinger.

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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warriors

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warriors

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When: Wednesday, Jan. 25 at 10:00 p.m. EST

Where to Watch: ESPN, Bally Sports SE, NBC Sports Bay Area

Their second-round matchup got a bit testy, so a nationally televised regular-season matchup at Chase Center should be no different.

The Warriors won at home on Christmas Day with no Stephen Curry, but the Grizzlies were still working Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr. back into their regular workload. If the rosters are at full strength for this nationally televised matchup, any leftover resentment from the playoffs could spill out for the enjoyment of the viewers.

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New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics

New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics

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When: Thursday, Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m. EST

Where to Watch: TNT, MSG, NBC Sports Boston

Of course, the Knicks are nowhere near the Celtics in the Eastern Conference standings, but this is still a season in which both teams have regular-season records over .500 at the halfway point.

Julius Randle is again playing like he did during his 2020-21 All-NBA/Most Improved Player season. Yes, the Celtics are in the conversation for the best team in the NBA, but they had better be ready for Tom Thibodeau’s feisty squad.

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Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

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When: Friday, Jan. 27 at 8:00 p.m. EST

Where to Watch: League Pass, Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports Plus

Darius Garland vs. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is certainly a fun matchup. With Donovan Mitchell possibly not ready to play due to a groin injury, this game can still be worth the watch just for the chance to see the Thunder knock off a top-tier team while Alexander and Garland cook.

On Sunday, the Thunder went toe-to-toe with the best team in the West — the Nuggets — on the road in altitude, and the result was a 101-99 victory. A team that was supposed to be headed back to the lottery after Chet Holmgren’s season-ending injury currently has the potential to avoid the Play-in Tournament. Yes, Alexander has been one of the best guards in the NBA, but this whole team plays extremely well together. A fact that the Nuggets found out the hard way.

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Denver Nuggets vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Denver Nuggets vs. Philadelphia 76ers

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When: Saturday, Jan. 28 at 3:00 p.m. EST

Where to watch: ABC

Break out the “Roundball Rock?” This upcoming Saturday NBA triple-header is quite reminiscent of the ones from weekends past on NBC. It does make sense for ABC to do this. What else can the network air to gather one million-plus to the television on a Saturday except for NBA basketball?

The Philadelphia 76ers entered the season as a championship contender, but early-season injuries slightly derailed them. With a healthy team — most nights — they have gotten back on track. Also, while Joel Embiid may have already missed too many games to win MVP, he should be ready to take out any frustration about the one that he lost last season on back-to-back NBA MVP Jokić.

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New York Knicks vs. Brooklyn Nets

New York Knicks vs. Brooklyn Nets

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When: Saturday, Jan. 28, 5:30 p.m. EST

Where to Watch: ABC

The Nets don’t hold nearly the same on-court advantage against the Knicks as they do with Kevin Durant on the court. For New York’s beloved NBA franchise, Saturday could be a rousing success against Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, and Co.

While the Knicks are healthier than the Nets, that Kevin Durant-less group did just knock off the Warriors in San Francisco. Two evenly matched tri-state area NBA teams going up against each other on a Saturday afternoon with no football in the same time slot. This sounds like fun for all basketball fans, including those who hope the Knicks stay irrelevant and only acknowledge the Nets during the postseason.

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Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics

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When: Saturday, Jan. 28, 8:30 p.m. EST

Where to Watch: ABC

Anthony Davis’ return to the floor is getting closer. Reports are that he is playing five-on-five. Once an injured player takes that step in the NBA, it’s usually a matter of time before he gets back on the floor.

If Davis returns to the floor on Saturday, this could be the biggest NBA game of the year up to this point. He was playing the best basketball of his career in the fall as the Lakers climbed out of that 2-10 hole. If he doesn’t play, the Lakers are still a feisty bunch. LeBron James has played in Boston many times, and likely would relish at the chance to do anything to hamper the Celtics’ championship aspirations.

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