By: Robert Bishop
Back again, and every time Stephen Curry takes the court these days, something incredible happens. On Monday night, Curry went ballistic yet again, torching the Philadelphia 76ers in a Golden State win. Curry scored 49 points while knocking down ten three-pointers, single-handedly lifting his team to the victory over the championship-contending 76ers. Over his last ten games, Curry is averaging an eye-popping 39.1 points while having knocked down an equally jarring 68 shots from beyond the arc. The Warriors are more fun than good at this point, but Curry is making appointment viewing. Curry will go head-to-head with Bradley Beal tonight in a must-watch match-up between the NBA’s two leading scorers.
Boston’s fared better of late, moving into position to avoid the play-in round of the playoffs. However, on Monday, the team’s glaring weakness was on full display against the Chicago Bulls. With All-Star Zach LaVine sidelined, Chicago’s offense ran through big man Nikola Vucevic, and he thrived against Boston’s frontcourt. Vucevic scored 29 points to lead Chicago to the upset victory, and his dominance highlighted Boston’s defensive limitations in the paint. Considering the path to the NBA Finals could include Vucevic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Joel Embiid, that is not a great sign for Boston’s title hopes. Chicago will look to push its winning streak to three tonight against the Cavaliers, while Boston will face the Phoenix Suns tomorrow night.
With Jamal Murray’s replacement, Monte Morris, sidelined with a hamstring injury, Denver turned to Nikola Jokic as its primary playmaker in a match-up against Memphis, and the MVP contender delivered a dazzling showcase. Jokic finished with 47 points, 15 boards, and eight dimes, operating as the team’s primary facilitator at times while also proving to be a menace on the offensive boards with multiple tip-ins to spark Denver’s come-from-behind effort. The Nuggets have won three straight, and while it hasn’t been as effortless as it was before Murray’s season-ending injury, Denver continues to look every bit a championship contender.
On a day when it was announced the James Harden would be out indefinitely with a hamstring issue, Kyrie Irving stepped up to lead the Nets to a short-handed win over the Pelicans. Irving scored 32 on 12-of-19 shooting, helping Brooklyn keep pace with the 76ers in the race for the top spot in the East. Irving will likely need to continue to shoulder the load for the Nets as there seems to be a good chance Harden is rested as a precaution until the playoffs. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant continues to be day-to-day with a thigh injury. The Nets have championship upside this season, but with the playoffs set to begin in a month, the franchise’s priority has to be ensuring the health of its three superstars. Brooklyn will be in action again tonight against the Raptors.
While the Nets continue to pursue the best record in the East, the Minnesota Timberwolves are hunting the worst record in the NBA. Despite the woes in the standings for Minnesota, there have been some encouraging trends for the franchise of late. Most notably, the continued development of rookie Anthony Edwards. On Tuesday night, Edwards led Minnesota with 29 points in a rare win. Perhaps most importantly, Edwards is not only emerging as a go-to scoring option, but he is meshing well with Karl-Anthony Towns, who scored 26 with 18 boards on the night. The supporting cast in Minnesota is a relative disaster, but the Timberwolves have a pair of building blocks on the roster and a potential top-three pick in this year’s loaded draft class. There’s a lot to like about the long-term future for Minnesota.