The NBA considers the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as arguably its most important regular-season day other than Christmas and the MLK holiday is Monday in the USA. The NBA has played games on MLK Day every year since the holiday was first observed in 1986 – with the only exception being the 1998-99 season, which did not begin until Feb. 5, after the holiday had passed. In total, there have been 358 NBA games played on MLK Day, with another nine games set for 2023. Here’s a look at two games with NBA odds.
Miami at Atlanta (+1)
Atlanta, the birthplace of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., will be playing in its 32nd match on MLK Day. The Hawks hold a 20-11 (.645) overall record on the holiday, including an 18-9 clip at home (.667).
The Hawks enter off a 114-103 upset win in Toronto on Saturday. Dejounte Murray shot 10-of-17 from the field and 5-of-6 from the foul line for 27 points with eight rebounds and six assists. Murray surpassed the 20-point mark for the first time in five games, snapping out of a slump in which he shot 37.1% from the field and averaged 14.8 points (four games).
Trae Young added 29 points and nine assists. It was the third time in four contests that he hit at least half of his shots from the field. In spite of the recent hot streak, Young is still holding down a career-worst 47.9 effective field-goal percentage this season. Young ranks second in the NBA in assists per game (9.8) and 10th in points per game (27.5).
Onyeka Okongwu is coming off back-to-back double-doubles for the first time in his career. Against the Raptors, Okongwu extended his block streak to a career-long nine straight games, rejecting two shots, in addition to notching a game-high 13 rebounds, 10 points and one steal in 37 minutes. Since Dec. 28, Okongwu is averaging 12.1 points and 10.9 rebounds, in addition to 2.4 blocks — the only player in the NBA over that time to average at least 10.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks.
Miami won its third in a row Saturday, 111-95 over Milwaukee. Gabe Vincent had a team-high 27 points. With Kyle Lowry, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson all banged up, Vincent has averaged better than 40 minutes per contest across his last three and is averaging 22.7 ppg in those. Rather amazingly, Vincent has not missed a free throw in the fourth quarter, including OT, dating back to last season, going a perfect 31-of-31 over that span.
Lowry (left knee discomfort) has been ruled out for Monday’s game but Herro is not listed on the injury report. The Heat and Hawks meet for the second of four matchups this regular season. Miami won 106-98 in Atlanta on Nov. 27, snapping Atlanta on 11/27. The Heat ended Atlanta’s streak of scoring at least 100 points in 40-straight games, which was the third-longest streak in franchise history.
Utah at Minnesota (TBA)
This spread is TBA due to a few injuries on both sides. Utah played without a few key guys on Saturday and yet nearly upset Philadelphia, falling 118-117. Joel Embiid made a jumper with 5.7 seconds left to lift for the win. Jordan Clarkson had 38 points and nine rebounds for Utah. Talen Horton-Tucker chipped in a season-high 20 points off the bench.
Mike Conley added 14 points and eight assists, while Walker Kessler finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Lauri Markkanen was sidelined with a left hip contusion and the Jazz struggled early to fill the void left without their leading scorer. Markkanen is averaging 24.6 points and 8.6 rebounds on the year and deserves to be a first-time All-Star. Last week, he reached 1,000 points with the team in just 41 games. The only Jazzman to reach that mark earlier was Adrian Dantley who achieved it in 34 games in 1979-80.
Shooting with a true shooting percentage of .667, Markkanen is one of only five players averaging at least 20 points with a TS% of .660 or higher. The other five include Nikola Jokić, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Zion Williamson, and Anthony Davis.
Minnesota was a 110-102 winner over visiting Cleveland on Saturday. Former Jazz All-Star center Gobert was limited to 13 minutes in the first half, recording a stat line of six points, four rebounds, and one steal before leaving with right groin soreness. Since December 1, Gobert is averaging 14.1 points on 71.6% shooting and 12.2 rebounds per game, the only player in the NBA to average 14+ PPG, 10+ RPG and shoot 70% or higher from the field.
Naz Reid had 17 points and seven rebounds largely in his place. Anthony Edwards had a game-high 26 points. Edwards is in elite company this season as one of only five players in NBA history aged 21 or younger to average at least 23 points, six rebounds and four assists.
The Jazz and Wolves have split two meetings this season, each winning on the road.
- Hawks and Timberwolves