MLK Day in the NBA

Stephen Curry, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Giannis Antetokounmpo will all be in action on Monday, January 18th for MLK Day NBA ballgames.


Jonah Gutterman/ PicStitch

Kevin Durant and James Harden high-five; Giannis Antetokounmpo brings the ball up the court; Devin Booker stands next to Chris Paul; Steph Curry drives in toward the basket on LeBron James.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day has arrived, which always means it is a big day for NBA Basketball. MLK Day is not typically quite as significant of a day for the NBA as Christmas Day is in terms of overall viewership and ratings; Nonetheless, the third Monday of each January is always considered an awesome day for pro-hoops action.


This MLK Day, the NBA has scheduled 9 games across the league, including 3 nationally televised matchups. It is what’s known as a “TNT Triple-Header”, meaning three games are scheduled in back-to-back-to-back time slots. Fans all across the country are treated to three national games this MLK Day, with the first set to tip off around 5:00 PM Eastern Time, the second at 7:30 PM, and the final at 10:00 PM. 


Here are this year’s MLK Day showdown matchups on TNT:


Phoenix Suns vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 5:00 PM:


   The 7-4 Suns head into Memphis to take on the 6-6 Grizzlies. After starting off the season 2-6, Memphis has won 4 straight games, and will look to extend that streak to 5 straight on Monday with a win over the Suns. On Saturday, (Jan. 16), the Grizzlies also were fortunate enough to get their star point guard, Ja Morant, back into their lineup after he missed the prior two weeks with a grade 2 ankle sprain. 

   The Suns, meanwhile, have had their last three games all postponed due to COVID-related issues, and have not last played a game since last Monday, Jan. 11th. Because of this, they may look a little rusty and perform sluggishly, or they may perform the exact opposite way- fresh, fast-paced, and rested. Phoenix will be led by their All-Star shooting guard, Devin Booker, alongside the skilled veteran and future hall-of-fame point guard Chris Paul in the backcourt.


Milwaukee Bucks vs. Brooklyn Nets, 7:30 PM:


   Reigning-MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Milwaukee Bucks travel to the borough of Brooklyn to take on the new-look star-studded Nets team who have the whole league watching them. Last week, the Nets executed a major blockbuster trade deal to acquire eight-time All Star shooting guard and 2018 MVP James Harden from the Houston Rockets. Harden has led the NBA in scoring for the past 3 seasons, averaging over 30 points per game each year since 2017. With Harden now settled in Brooklyn, he has teamed up with the two superstars who were already on the Nets, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Irving is questionable to make his return to the lineup today after missing the past six games with some strange personal issues, even more exacerbated by media speculation and drama. If Irving does play today, this will be the first game we see the NBA-superstar trio of Durant, Harden, and Irving all together in the same game for the same team. 

   However, don’t overlook the Bucks; Led by Antetokounmpo, sharp-shooting swingman Khris Middleton, and veteran point guard Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee has started off the season with an impressive 9-4 record thus far, including 4 straight in the win column. Whether Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets or not, this ballgame is going to be an exciting and entertaining one to watch, likely with a lot of scoring and offense on display.


Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 10:00 PM:


   A pair of two California teams square off in the night game, with the Warriors on the road to take on a highly elite L.A. Lakers team who’ve started the season with an 11-3 record. Two-time MVP Stephen Curry has led the Warriors so far this season in just about every aspect imaginable, as he’s averaged 28.4 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game, 6.2 assists per game, and a career-high 20.5 shot attempts per game. Curry already had a noteworthy game in this young season when he erupted for a career-high 62 point game back on January 3rd. Joining Curry in Golden State’s lineup is swingman Andrew Wiggins, forward Kelly Oubre Jr., and #2 overall pick in this year’s draft, 19-year-old center James Wiseman. 

   The Warriors will have a tough task of taking on the Lakers this MLK Day, led by 16-time All Star and 4-time MVP LeBron James. Somehow, as incredible and unbelievable as it sounds, at age 36 and in his eighteenth season in the league, LeBron is still averaging over 24 PPG, more than 8 rebounds, and nearly 8 assists per game. Of course, though, James is not the only weapon the Lakers have. They also have the ever-so talented big man, seven-time All Star Anthony Davis, who himself is averaging just under 22 PPG so far this season, actually the lowest his scoring average has been since 2014. However, it really doesn’t matter all too much, because whether Davis is averaging 22 points, 26 points, or 30 points, the Lakers are winning games. So, on this MLK day evening, Stephen Curry and the Warriors will try their best to defeat LeBron, A.D., and the Lakers. It should be a fun matchup to watch.