After a light day of NBA action on Thursday, the script is flipped Friday with a loaded 10-game slate. There are a number of high-profile games, and not surprisingly, two of them landed the national television spotlight. With 20 of the league’s teams in action, we’re going to break down the best games on the schedule and which ones drew the national nod.
We’ll start off by looking at the nationally televised games, both of which are on ESPN. Per the usual on Friday nights, the headlining games receive the 8:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. EST slots, and the December 21 schedule comes pretty loaded. Not only are the two national games featured, but they’re also arguably the best ones on tap.
NBA’s National Television Schedule for Friday, December 21
- Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics (8:00 p.m. EST) – ESPN
- New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Lakers (10:30 p.m. EST) – ESPN
NBA fans are treated to a matchup between two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference to start the night. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks (21-9) square off with Kyrie Irving and the Boston Celtics (18-12). After a slow start to the season for the Celtics, they’ve flipped the script as of late, winning eight of their last 10. The Bucks have been excellent in their own right, going 7-3 in their most recent stretch.
When the New Orleans Pelicans (15-17) and Los Angeles Lakers (18-13) meet Friday night, there may be more headlines about Anthony Davis trade rumors than the game itself. The All-Star big man has been linked to the Lakers on many occasions as of late, and the rumblings aren’t likely to cool off anytime soon.
As far as the late game goes, the Western Conference is a bit of a crapshoot at this point. Entering the day, there’s just a 7.5-game difference between the top-seeded Denver Nuggets and No. 14 seed Minnesota Timberwolves.
Other Top NBA Games on Friday
Although there are actually quite a few games worth watching on Friday, we’re going to look at just a few that jump off the page as matchups to monitor.
- Detroit Pistons at Charlotte Hornets (7:00 p.m. EST)
- Minnesota Timberwolves at San Antonio Spurs (8:30 p.m. EST)
- Utah Jazz at Portland Trail Blazers (10:00 p.m. EST)
- Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings (10:00 p.m. EST)
At first glance, the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets game may not grab your attention, but it’s an interesting one. Both teams are currently among the top-eight teams in the East and are led by some intriguing talent. Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin on Detroit’s side are going to be a handful for the Hornets, but Charlotte boasts Kemba Walker, who’s having a career year.
Walker has played a huge role in the Hornets remaining relevant in a year which many pegged them to be rebuilding. He’s posted career-best averages in points (25.1) and assists (6.3) while also pulling down 4.4 rebounds per game.
The Western Conference provides the rest of the Friday night intrigue. As mentioned above, that side of the league is tough to gauge right now, but each of the six teams above have flashed plenty of upside. Surprisingly, the best matchup of this bunch could prove to be the Memphis Grizzlies a Sacramento Kings.
Memphis has bounced around the standings this year and they’ve struggled as of late, losing four straight games. But just recently the Grizzlies were actually atop the West and have plenty of talent. As for the Kings, many consider them to be one of the most enjoyable teams in the NBA to watch, and with their young core led by DeAaron Fox, that’s not all that surprising.