The Cleveland Cavaliers have used a 12-game winning streak to jump back into second place in the Eastern Conference, while the Golden State Warriors are nipping at the heels of the Western Conference-leading Houston Rockets.
The Boston Celtics have continued to dominate despite losing prized free-agent acquisition Gordon Hayward in the opening game of the season, whil the Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers have each been off to a surprisingly strong start.
All of those teams play significant games this week, including a matchup between young Sixers studs like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons against LeBron James and the Cavs.
James Harden is leading the league in scoring and is second in assists, making him the leading MVP candidate heading toward Christmas. But players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kristaps Porzingis—all of whom rank in the top five in scoring in the NBA—are coming up right behind him.
Here’s everything you need to know to be an expert in the NBA this week.
(All stats, records, and results are as of games through Tuesday, December 5)
Steph Curry is heading home for this matchup—literally. Curry was raised in Charlotte and played at Davidson College in North Carolina, so it’ll be a bit of a homecoming for the NBA superstar. There’s another connection for Curry in this game, too. His father Dell played for the Hornets and is the franchise’s all-time leader in scoring and three-pointers made. Tough thing for Steph though? He’s hurt this week, so he’ll have to watch from the bench. Curry is also nearing a significant milestone: He needs just five three-pointers to reach 2,000 for his career; that’ll have to wait until he’s healthy, though.
The Hornets host the Warriors on Wednesday, December 6 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The league will have two matchups as part of the NBA Mexico Games campaign, with the Brooklyn Nets facing the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday, December 7 at 10 p.m., and the Nets facing the Miami Heat on Saturday, December 9 at 6 p.m. ET. Both games will be played at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico, and this marks the second straight season that the NBA will host games in Mexico City. Overall, the matchups are the 25th and 26th contests in Mexico since 1992, the most held in any country outside the U.S. and Canada for the league.
The Thunder face the Nets on Thursday, December 7 at 10 p.m. ET on NBA League Pass.
The Nets play the Heat on Saturday, December 9 at 6 p.m. ET on NBA TV.
The Lakers are looking to bounce back from a tough stretch, having gone 3-7 over their last 10 games—and things won’t get any easier against the Sixers. The young group in Philadelphia has started off strong this season, and players like Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons have fans thinking playoffs. Embiid is likely thrilled to be playing the Lakers again—the last time the teams met he had a historic performance, becoming the first NBA player to have at least 46 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, and seven blocks in a game.
The Sixers host the Lakers on Thursday, December 7 at 8 p.m. ET on TNT.
The Detroit Pistons have been one of the most surprising teams in the league this season, starting off 14-9 (as of Dec. 5) and sitting fourth in the East standings after missing the playoffs last year. The Pistons have already beaten Golden State once this season, and now they’ll try to do it again at home.
The Pistons host the Warriors on Friday, December 8 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
This matchup features two of the best teams in the league in the Celtics and Spurs, but the franchises also have another connection: Boston really wanted to draft San Antonio star Tony Parker back in 2001. The Celtics had three first-round picks back in the 2001 Draft, and all rumors pointed to Parker being one of those picks. Instead, the Celtics changed their minds to North Carolina’s Joe Forte, and, boy, do they wish they could go back and change it. Forte played in eight games with the Celtics and wasn’t even in the league by 2003, while Parker has won four NBA titles and is a six-time All-Star.
The Spurs host the Celtics on Friday, December 8 at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
LeBron James is still the “King” of the NBA, but two princes are rising in the league: Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Both players have shown off highlight-reel skills this season as they try to make the Sixers into a playoff team for the first time in five years. James has his Cavaliers going strong after a slow start to the season, having won 12 straight games (as of December 5) while leading the Eastern Conference in scoring.
The Cavaliers host the Sixers on Saturday, December 9 at 8 p.m. ET on NBA League Pass.