Bucks at Cavaliers (8pm ET Thursday, TNT)
The Milwaukee Bucks have lost three of their last four, most recently suffering a 29-point pistol whipping at the hands of the Wizards, to bring their record to 5-6. The Bucks have been spreading the ball around, and are currently the only team in the league which has all five starters averaging 12 points and at least 1 steal per game. What they’re not doing is winning. A big part of the problem is that the Bucks are getting outrebounded 44.5 to 38.6, the second-worst differential in the league. The Bucks continue to play without Jabari Parker, who’s nursing a sprained foot, but hope to have guard OJ Mayo (hamstring) suit up for the first time this season. But, hey, they did beat the Cavs on Saturday!
Speaking of the Cavs, they sit atop the Eastern Conference, despite dropping their last two. They’re now 8-3 and LeBron James is not happy: “We give a half-ass effort sometimes,” James fumed Saturday after losing to the Bucks in OT. James’ mood was no better following a Tuesday loss to Detroit: “We haven’t done anything… We lost in the Finals… I think we need to understand that. Like, we lost in the Finals. We didn’t win. And the team that beat us looks more hungry than we are. So it shouldn’t be that way.”
James continues to play at an all-world level, and Kevin Love is putting up about 17-12 on a daily basis, but they continue to play without guard Kyrie Irving, who is still a couple of weeks away from recovering from knee surgery.
Warriors vs. Clippers (10:30pm ET Thursday, TNT)
Woe betide those who stand athwart the Golden State Warriors. After dispensing with the Raptors on Tuesday, the Warriors are 12-0, leading the league in points per game, point differential, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, assists… they just play offense better than you. And they play a little D to boot, holding teams to a .423 field goal percentage, the fourth-best in the NBA. They are a nightmare. It’s been quite a while since a defending champ came out of the blocks with such a massive chip on its shoulder, it’s kinda great to watch. And the same goes for Steph Curry, who is sticking a thumb in the eye of everyone who doubted his MVP award. The dude is raining threes with more success – 45.6% – than the rest of the league is shooting field goals – 44.1%. According to Basketball Reference’s Game Score, on his worst night of the year, Curry shot 8-of-18 for 24 points, and added 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. That’s just absurd.
The Los Angeles Clippers, at 6-4, have come closer than anyone this season to defeating the mighty Warriors, losing by just 4 two weeks ago. Despite being at home this time, it’s hard to like their chances for revenge, given that star point guard Chris Paul will be on the bench for the third straight game with a groin injury, and JJ Reddick, their #3 scorer, will also be out of action due to back spasms. I dunno, man, I’ve been suffering from intense back spasms for two days now and I still got this done…