Every matchup in the NBA is important, even when there’s a huge difference in the quality of the opposing team. However, some matchups come with a different intensity, either due to rivalry in their history or a battle for dominance in shared conferences.
Here we will look at matchups that promise extreme intensity, highlight plays, drama, and entertainment beyond the norm. The 2022-23 NBA season has already seen some of those matches; an example is the most recent Christmas day specials between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks and the young Grizzlies team against the Warriors. We will look at the next best five matchups as the season progresses into the new year.
Los Angeles Lakers Vs Los Angeles Clippers (25 January)
Star power is everything in Los Angeles, both on and off the court. There are several stars on these two squads. LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook lead the Lakers, while Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are two of the league’s best wings for the Clippers. The Clippers have won the last nine meetings, with the Lakers’ previous victory coming in the 2020 season. The Lakers have historically dominated this rivalry, leading the overall series 150-83.
- Anthony Davis was having a monstrous season until he sustained a foot injury, and he should be back in time for this game, although his return date remains unknown.
- Russell Westbrook is flourishing as floor general from the bench, and if he continues at this pace with Lebron James actively scoring with ease, the Lakers might end their losing streak against the Clippers.
- The Los Angeles Clippers have won their two encounters against the Lakers this season, and the Lake show will be looking to get one back in this game.
- Paul George remains the consistent starter between the duo, as Kawhi has been carefully managed for maximum future performance in the postseason.
Brooklyn Nets Vs Philadelphia 76ers
The significance of this clash may be understood by recalling the blockbuster trade that the Sixers and Nets executed at the previous year’s trade deadline, which brought Ben Simmons to Brooklyn and James Harden to Philadelphia. Following the deal, the two teams only faced off once, with the Nets defeating the Sixers in Philadelphia despite Simmons’ absence from the starting lineup. This season, Simmons already returned to Philadelphia on November 22 and received nothing close to a warm welcome as the 76ers fans constantly booed him.
- Following the sacking of Steve Nash, the Brooklyn Nets have been playing the best basketball of their life in a while. The personality change in the head coach position has helped propel the team to greater heights.
- Brooklyn Nets acquired an injured T.J. Warren from Indiana Pacers in the offseason and has nursed him back to full health; he has been incredible for them coming off the bench.
- The Duo of Joel Embiid and James Harden is working out just fine. Embiid is scoring ridiculously while Harden has embraced the playmaking position, as he even dished out his career-high assist this season.
- Tyrese Maxey should be back in full health for this game which gives the 76ers an edge.
Memphis Grizzlies Vs Golden State Warriors
There’s so much bad blood between these two teams, and it all began when they faced up in an entertaining Western Conference semifinals matchup last season. The Golden State Warriors prevailed in six games, but Grizzlies fans had different ideas. They thought that their team’s failure to win was due to Ja Morant’s injury midway through the series, which prevented him from playing in the next three games despite having put on outstanding performances in the first three. They already faced up this season in a Christmas special matchup, but the Grizzlies were humiliated as they lost the game 123-109 to a Warriors team without Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins.
- Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins should be back in time for the second out of the four games scheduled against the Grizzlies.
- Ja Morant and the rest of the team will be aiming for a revenge game due to how they were defeated in the first matchup.
Phoenix Suns Vs Dallas Mavericks (26 January)
The rematch of the Western Conference semifinal series from last year, which Dallas won in seven games. However, the Mavericks didn’t only defy the odds by winning Game 7 on the road; to win the West finals, they utterly destroyed the top-seeded Suns. Dallas always stayed caught up and had a 46-point lead before cruising to a 33-point victory.
Suns defeated the Mavericks in the season’s opening game, but Luka Doncic was present in their most recent meeting, which the Mavericks won 130-111. The Suns were without veteran point guard Chris Paul in that game. This game is one to watch out for, provided all the star players are healthy.
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Denver Nuggets Vs Philadelphia 76ers (28 January)
The two best big guys in the game right now, Nikola Jokic of Denver and Joel Embiid of Philadelphia, will face off. In each of the previous two seasons, these two players were first and second in the Kia MVP race, with Jokic consistently outperforming Embiid.
Jokic, with his playmaking and scoring abilities, is the best passing big man of this generation and may be the best of all time. He serves as the offensive engine for the Nuggets. The two respect one another, evident during the MVP battle the previous season.
- One thing is sure, the aforementioned players will put up a show, with Jamal Murray and James Harden set for their little contest as floor generals.
The games mentioned above are tipped to put you on the edge as we prepare to enter a new year of more action-packed games in the current NBA season.
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