More bad news for the injury-ravaged Portland Trail Blazers: Forward Nassir Little — one of the breakout young players in the league this season — will likely be out for the rest of the season with a left shoulder labral tear. This is simply a lost season in Portland with Damian Lillard and Cody Zeller also out long term. Here’s a look at two intriguing matchups around the NBA this weekend. Check back for NBA odds.
Best NBA bets of the weekend
Boston at Atlanta, Friday
Tips at 7 p.m. ET. These are two of the Eastern Conference’s most disappointing teams after both made the playoffs last season – Atlanta reached the East Finals.
The teams have met once, a 110-99 Hawks home win on Nov. 17. Other than a short four-point lead early in the game for Boston, the Hawks maintained the pace, leading after every quarter. Hawks forward John Collins posted his 47th career 20-point/10-rebound double-double, tallying 20 points and 11 rebounds. Trae Young had 18 points and 11 assists. Jayson Tatum netted a game-high 34 points to goa long with nine rebounds and five assists for Boston, while Grant Williams tied his career-high with 18 points and six rebounds.
Boston comes off its best game of the season, a 128-75 destruction of Sacramento on Tuesday. It was the Celtics’ largest margin of victory at home in their 75 years of existence. Prior to Tuesday night, they had churned out only one 50-point blowout in 3,128 home games, and that was a 153-102 win over the Warriors on March 7, 1962. The 53-point rout marked the second-largest win in franchise history, falling three points shy of the 56-point victory it produced on Dec. 8, 2018, in Chicago, which came in the form of a 133-77 win over the Bulls.
Jayson Tatum scored 36 points and Jaylen Brown had 30 points and 10 rebounds before both rested the entire fourth quarter. Boston stretched its lead to 60 points before it was over. Guard Marcus Smart was scoreless in his second game back from COVID-19 protocols but did have seven assists.
Atlanta enters having won five straight games, marking the longest active winning streak in the Eastern Conference and the second-longest active winning streak in the NBA. Over those five outings, the Hawks are averaging 119.8 PPG and 27.8 APG (.500 FG%, .364 3FG%, .846 FT%). The Hawks have dished out 25-or-more assists in each contest, while shooting .500-or-better from the field in three of the five games. Since the club’s five-game winning streak began, Atlanta’s defense is holding teams to .433 FG% (3rd-lowest). The Hawks have connected on 10-or-more three-pointers in eight straight games, tying the fifth-longest such streak in franchise history.
Brooklyn at Golden State, Saturday
ABC prime-time game at 8:30 ET. This could be an NBA Finals preview as the Nets are favored to win the East and the NBA title and the Warriors are favored to win the West and are second favorites for the NBA title.
However, the Nets will be missing both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Durant is injured and while Irving can play in most road cities, San Francisco will not allow him to due to its vaccine mandate just like New York City. Golden State will be without Draymond Green so this really won’t look like a potential Finals meeting in June. In the seven games Irving has played in this season, Brooklyn has averaged 120.4 ppg on .513/.384/.854 shooting splits. Durant leads the league in ppg (29.3).
The teams played on Nov. 16 in Brooklyn and the Dubs won 117-99. Steph Curry had 37 points. Andrew Wiggins added 19 points for the Warriors. Durant struggled with 19 points. He shot 0 for 8 in the decisive third quarter when the Warriors outscored the Nets by 17 and finished 6 for 19 after sitting the fourth. James Harden scored 24 points for the Nets.
The Nets are 37-22 (.627) on the road since the start of last season. Only Phoenix (42-16, .724) has been better in that time. The Nets are 23-6 when posting 25+ assists in a game (8-0 when posting 30+).
This week, Harden became the 32nd player in NBA history to score 23,000 career points. Harden is the fourth active player to score 23,000 points, joining LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Durant. Harden is the sixth player in NBA history to record 23,000 points, 5,000 rebounds and 6,000 assists, joining Kobe Bryant, John Havlicek, LeBron, Oscar Robertson and Jerry West.
- Back Hawks and Warriors