The Warriors and Cavs remain on a Finals collision course, as each team sits atop its respective conference, the Oklahoma CIty Thunder’s Russell Westbrook continues to chase history, and the Rockets have achieved lift-off, as James Harden is playing out of his head. Catch them all and more this week on Sling.
(all times Eastern, stats and records through Tuesday)
Chicago Bulls (17-18) vs Cleveland Cavaliers (26-7)
8PM ET on ESPN
Portland Trail Blazers (15-21) vs Golden State Warriors (30-5)
10:30pm ET on ESPN
Oklahoma City Thunder (21-14) vs Houston Rockets (27-9)
8pm ET on TNT
First things first: Russell Westbrook is still averaging a triple-double, with 30.9 points, 10.4 rebounds and 10.5 assists per game. Just as important for Thunder fans is the return of Victor Oladipo from a 9-game absence due to a sprained right wrist, and he’s averaged 16.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3 assists in his first two games back. On Monday, however, OKC fell to the Bucks 98-94, after having tied it up on a Westbrook midrange jumper with 1:44 to play. But Russ was 0-for-3 the rest of the way, with a turnover and a foul of Malcolm Brogdon, who sank his free throws for the final 2 points of the game.
The Houston Rockets closed out 2016 by winning 15 of 17 in December, a streak that was kicked off by a double-overtime win over the Warriors, and ended with James Harden recording a 53-point triple-double against the Knicks, giving him an average of 28.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 12.0 assists for the run, and catapulted them to the fourth-best record in the NBA. They kicked off 2017 in much the same fashion, beating the Washington Wizards 101-91. Patrick Beverley, who missed the first 11 games of the season, is out again, this time with a sprained wrist and is a question mark for Wednesday
Los Angeles Lakers (13-25) vs Portland Trail Blazers (15-21)
10:30pm ET on TNT
For Christmas this year, the Los Angeles Clippers treated the Los Angeles Lakers to a starting five that didn’t include Chris Paul or Blake Griffin, and the Lakers responded accordingly, winning 111-102, as they had seven guys in double figures, led by Timofey Mozgov and Nick Young, who each had 19. But the Lakers then lost their next 3 in a row, before getting the W Tuesday against the Grizzlies, as Julius Randle recorded just her third career triple-double, going 19-14-11. The Lakers are still playing “shoot first, ask questions later” basketball, the result being that they’re sixth in the league in scoring with 108 points per game, and 26th in points allowed at 110.2.
Having already falling on hard times by going 6 games under .500, the Portland Trail Blazers have had to make a go of it without leading scorer Damian Lillard, who missed 4 games with a sprained ankle. But lo and behold, the Blazers managed to go 2-2 during that stretch, including a 95-89 win on Sunday over the Timberwolves, as CJ McCollum went off for a career-high 43 points, with 5 boards, 3 dimes, 3 steals and a block. McCollum stepped up big in Lillard’s absence, averaging 30.3 ppg.
New York Knicks (16-18) vs Milwaukee Bucks (17-16)
8pm ET on ESPN
Memphis Grizzlies (22-15) vs Golden State Warriors (30-5)
10:30pm ET on ESPN