We know two players for sure who will compete in next month’s All-Star Dunk Contest in Chicago: Dwight Howard and Derrick Jones Jr. Unfortunately for the NBA and its fans, though, sensational rookie Ja Morant has declined an invitation and that’s an utter shame. He likely would have been the favorite. Here’s a look at two intriguing matchups around the NBA betting action early this week, including the expected regular-season debut of Zion Williamson. Check back for Mybookie NBA odds.
Top NBA Betting Picks of the Week – January 20th Edition
LA Clippers vs Dallas Mavericks
- When: Tuesday, 8:30 p.m. ET
- TV: NBA TV
- Live Stream: NBA League Pass
If Kawhi Leonard plays, this could be a fantastic individual matchup between Leonard, arguably the best perimeter defender in the league, and Mavericks MVP candidate Luka Doncic. The teams played on Nov. 26 in Dallas and the Clippers won 114-99.
Paul George scored 17 of his 26 points in the first quarter, and Leonard finished with 28. Doncic had 22 points, eight rebounds and six assists but was just 4-for-14 shooting. Kristaps Porzingis was 4 of 13, the 7-foot-3 Latvian combining with the Rookie of the Year from Slovenia to go 8 of 27 compared to 19 of 42 for the LA stars. Patrick Beverley got in foul trouble as one of the defenders assigned to Doncic, who had to settle for doing most of his damage on free throws, making 14 of 16.
The home team had won nine straight meetings between Dallas and Los Angeles prior to the Clippers’ victory. The Mavericks had won four straight and 35 of the previous 46 showdowns in Dallas prior to the loss. The Clippers have now gone 19-10 (.655) against the Mavericks since the start of the 2011-12 season. The Mavericks are 55-24 all-time at home against the Clippers. The Mavericks have not won a season series with the Clippers since 2010-11.
Kawhi ShowKawhi Leonard is playing great for the Clippers right now. He had 39 points in Saturday’s win over the Pelicans, adding six rebounds, six assists and five steals. Kawhi is averaging 36.0 points per game over his last five to make his 180 points over that span just shy of the most points by a Clippers player in a five-game span since World B. Free had 184 points in 1979. Not likely that Paul George plays here. He has missed his past five with a left hamstring injury.
The Clippers have 18 games this season where they have scored at least 120 points which ranks second in the NBA. The Clippers have 30 wins in 43 games this season. That’s the second fewest amount of games to reach 30 wins in franchise history. The Clippers are the only team in the NBA to have four players averaging at least 19.0 ppg (Leonard 26.9 ppg, George 23.5 ppg, Lou Williams 20.0 ppg, Montrezl Harrell 19.3 ppg).
San Antonio Spurs vs New Orleans Pelicans
- When: Wednesday, 8 PM ET
- Live Stream: NBA League Pass
First meeting of the regular season between these teams.
ESPN has the NBA doubleheader on Wednesday and originally didn’t have this game on it but made a change to broadcast it because Zion Williamson will make his regular-season debut. It’s going to be the biggest sports story on Wednesday and there will be a media frenzy in New Orleans – not to mention a rare sellout crowd.
Zion played in four preseason games, and his final one was against these Spurs on Oct. 13 when he had 22 points and 10 rebounds. Williamson said he first started to feel pain in his right knee after New Orleans’ 123-114 win in San Antonio. A subsequent MRI exam revealed damage to the meniscus in Williamson’s right knee.
Zion had knee surgery on the eve of the regular season. He was then given a timetable of 6-8 weeks but Wednesday will be around 13 weeks since the surgery. After New Orleans selected him with the No. 1 overall pick last summer, Williamson averaged 23.3 points on 71.4 percent shooting in four preseason games. Certainly, the team will monitor his minutes carefully. New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry told reporters that Williamson will “definitely” have a minutes restriction that will not exceed 30 per night.
The HorizonThe Pelicans don’t have any back-to-backs until March 3-4, so GM David Griffin added that while the team probably will sit Williamson in those games, it’s possible any restrictions could be lifted by then.
If Zion becomes the player many think he will be, the Pelicans could make a serious run at a playoff spot. All but one of their final 15 games will be against a team with a losing record, eight of which are teams with a bottom-10 net rating. Williamson will make life easier on his teammates—Brandon Ingram could be the greatest beneficiary. Ingram is already playing like an All-Star.
The 140 points scored by New Orleans in their 140-126 win over the Spurs on 11/19/18 was the second most by a San Antonio opponent in their franchise’s history. The 140-point mark in a non-overtime game is the most non-OT points given up by a Gregg Popovich coached team. Gregg Popovich won his 521st road game on 1/26/19 at New Orleans, becoming the NBA’s all-time winningest coach on the road.