Celtics at Hawks (8pm ET Tuesday, TNT)
Though just 7-6 and a half-game out of the 8th spot in the East, the Boston Celtics have to be pleased with their start. Yes, they’re coming off a 111-101 road loss to the lowly Nets, but that’s their only loss to a sub-.500 team, and their 5.9 point differential is the 4th-best in the NBA. Unfortunately, the Celtics will be without guard Marcus Smart for the next 2-to-6 weeks, after he suffered a “subluxation of the proximal tibfib joint” Sunday in Brooklyn.
Tuesday’s tilt against the Celtics offers the 9-6 Atlanta Hawks an opportunity to avenge a humiliating 106-93 loss in Boston on Friday the 13th. But really, that game was just a small part of the 1-4 freefall the Hawks have been in: they’ve been hit with the injury bug, most recently having lost the services of Tiago Splitter and and Kent Bazemore, but they’ve also been soft on the glass, posting the second-worst rebounding percentage in the NBA.
Lakers vs. Warriors (10:30pm ET Tuesday, TNT)
How bad are the Los Angeles Lakers? Let us count the ways: They have the second-worst record in the league at 2-11, they currently sit at the bottom of a 3-way scrum with Philly and Houston for the title of Worst Shooting Team in the NBA, making just 41.3% from the field, they have the third-fewest steals, the fifth-worst rebounding differential… you get the idea. And Kobe? Well, Kobe’s shooting 33.1 % from the field, 4.2% off his previous low, and 12% off his career average, and the rest of his stats are well of his career norms. In his own words, “I freakin’ suck.” This is no way for one of the all-time greats to go out. It all kinda makes you wonder a) Why did Kobe come back, and b) Why did the Lakers bring him back? And then you remember the answer to both questions: Money. Kobe gets another $25 million, and the Lakers get to sell extra tickets and jerseys and such in a year they were gonna stink anyway. You can only hope that the minutes and dollars Kobe’s using up are helping youngsters like D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson develop their game.
On Tuesday, the Lakers will be fed to the human thresher that is the Golden State Warriors. If the Warriors defeat the Lakers, they will set the record for most consecutive wins to start an NBA season, a mark they currently share with 1948 Washington Capitols and the ‘93 Rockets, both of whom made the finals, with the Rockets winning the first of two consecutive titles. Steph Curry continues to lead the universe in scoring, with 32.7 ppg, and Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green have stepped, with Barnes contributing 14 points, 5 rebounds 2 assists and 1 stea, while Green is top 10 in the league in defensive rebounds and assists.
Asked about the possibility of flipping the script and beating the Warriors, Kobe said, “I’ve seen stranger things happen.”