Thursday – Feb/24
Atlanta hawks @ CHicago bulls – 8:00 PM ET
AfroBallers Game of the Week
After too long of a break without NBA Basketball, we tip-off the week with the AfroBallers Game of the Week! Be prepared, as this one will be straight up offensive fireworks for 48 minutes!
The Hawks are Top 5 in the league in 6 offensive categories:
- 1st in 3pt% & in Fewest Turnovers per game
- 2nd in Offensive Rating
- 5th in FG%, in FT% & in TS%
The Bulls are among the 5 best teams in 5 offensive categories:
- 1st in FG% & in FT%
- 2nd in 3pt% & in TS%
- 3rd in Offensive Rating
This will truly be a make or miss game. Both defenses are in the bottom third of the league in 3 major categories: Defensive Rating, TO% and Opponents’ eFG%.
The matchup to watch on this one is offensive All-Star Trae Young versus defensive Rising Star Ayo Dosunmu.
memphis grizzlies @ minnesota timberwolves – 8:00 PM ET
The battle of the Midwest will feature two young squads starving to get their franchises back to postseason play.
As young legs go, so will this game. Both teams are in the Top 5 in Pace, Fast Break Points Per Game, 2nd Chance Points Per Game and Deflections Per Game. Their half-court scoring, however, differs in style. While the Wolves are 3rd in the NBA in % of Points scored on 3-Pointers, the Grizzlies lead the league in % of Points scored in the Paint.
The fight in the middle is the one to watch! Jaren Jackson Jr versus Karl-Anthony Towns – two mobile young centers battling both in the paint (advantage JJJ, the second best blocker in the game) and outside as well (advantage to newly crowned 3pt Champion KAT).
Friday – Feb/25
Philadelphia 76ers @ minnesota timberwolves – 8:00 PM ET
This one is not as much about the game – as the Wolves will be on the second night of a back-to-back and are bound to be less efficient. This is about the first game in which we will see one of the title contenders playing with full force.
Yes, we are talking about the much anticipated (even by last week’s column) James Harden 76ers debut.
Sure, the All-Star Center battle between AfroBaller MVP Favorite Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns will be fun to watch, but what we really want to see is the paring between the 76ers’ aspiring MVP with his former MVP teammate.
Find out Friday @Timberwolves https://t.co/T4HteGUN38
— Daryl MorΞy 🗽🏀 (@dmorey) February 21, 2022
dallas mavericks @ utah jazz – 9:00 PM ET
The ascending 5th place Mavericks will visit Utah and face their main competitors for that elusive Playoff home-court territory.
After a slow start to the season – much of it carried by their superstar’s physical condition and performance early on – the Mavs are currently 5th in the NBA both in Defensive Rating and Net Rating.
The Jazz, albeit anchored by the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert, have become an offensive team. The team is Top 5 in Points per Game, FG%, Made 3-pointers and lead the league in Offensive Rating.
If Donovan Mitchell plays – after skipping the All-Star Game due to injury – keep your eyes on him and on reigning Western Conference Player of The Week – Luka Doncic.
.@JalenRose's Top 5 NBA Players Under 25:
1. Luka Doncic
2. Jayson Tatum
3. Donovan Mitchell
4. Devin Booker
5. Trae Young pic.twitter.com/bjUFHHOzVb
— ESPN (@espn) June 12, 2021
Saturday – Feb/26
toronto raptors @ atlanta hawks – 7:30 PM ET
As previously covered on Thursday’s game, the Hawks will score on everyone and do so taking extreme care of the ball, being the team with fewest Turnovers per Game.
The Raptors, on the other hand, will test that as much as any other team. The Canadian team leads the NBA in Forced Turnovers %, powered by having the most Deflections per Game and second most Loose Balls Recovered per contest.
Whereas they are unlikely to guard each other all game, any possessions in which Trae Young goes against Scottie Barnes will be must watch basketball!
Scottie Barnes brings great defensive intensity every night! #NBACourtOptix powered by Microsoft Azure highlights the Raptors rookie's ability to force turnovers and affect shots, fitting right in with Toronto's swarming defense.
Tune in to TOR-WAS at 8pm/et on NBA League Pass pic.twitter.com/KP8Ze4Ms2Z
— NBA (@NBA) January 21, 2022
memphis grizzlies @ CHicago bulls – 8:00 PM ET
These teams are both surpassing their pre-season expectations with their performances, but going about it in contrasting styles.
In Memphis they love creating havoc on defense and capitalizing on that offensively. Leading the NBA in Rebounds, Steals, Blocks and Loose Balls Recovered per game powers the team to be at the top of the League each night in Fast Break Points, 2nd Chance Points, Points in the Paint and Points per Game.
The Bulls have fallen off a cliff on defense, after injuries to their best players on that side of the ball. Offensively their opponent will have a tough time matching them. In Chi-Town, they attack with a much more half-court heavy game. The team leads the NBA in % of points scored in the mid-range, while also at the top of the league in FG% and FT%.
MVP Candidates Ja Morant and DeMar DeRozan are the key players to watch on this one. As with their teams, expect to watch greatness present itself in very different styles with these two.
Sunday – Feb/27
utah jazz @ phoenix suns – 3:30 PM ET
While the Jazz are a very efficient team, leading the NBA in Offensive Rating and coming second in Net Rating, the team they face on Sunday is the only one they trail in the latter.
Talking about the Suns‘ uniqueness, they are the only team in the Top 3 in both offensive and defensive ratings, which puts them head and shoulders above the Jazz in that Net rating competition.
When playing against a Top 10 Net Rating team, the Suns keep their performance, winning over 70% of those games, being at the top of the league. Now the Jazz fall way below against those teams, losing more games (9) tan they won (7).
After Rudy Gobert’s passive-aggressive comments on how much Devin Booker evolved as a defender – further aggravating the feud with teammate Donovan Mitchell – the duel between both SGs is bound to be heated!
dallas mavericks @ golden state warriors – 7:30 PM ET
When we think about these teams, we think usually of offense, as their superstar PGs – the matchup to watch on this game every second their are on the court – it is their defenses that make these teams go. Leading the NBA in Defensive Rating, the Warriors will face another Top 5 team in that category.
That Mavs defense allows the fewest 3-point makes per game, holding opponents to one of the lowest 3-point % in the league. The Warriors lead the NBA in made 3-pointers and do that with the fifth best 3-point % in the league.
In the duel of the best 3-point offense against the most efficient 3-point defense, whichever team is successful in making the other play their preferred style will come out on top.