December 7, 2022

Spectator’s Guide: NBA on MLK Day | India

This year marks the 36th anniversary of the NBA celebrating the life and legacy of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a full slate of gripping matchups and classic games, but NBA basketball history and history. he civil rights leader’s honor dates back 54 years before his untimely death in 1968. That was when Oscar Robertson recruited 27 players to compete in the Pro Basketball All-Star Benefit Game at the Singer Bowl in Queens, New York, to raise funds for Dr. King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Since King’s birthday became a federal holiday in 1983, the NBA has continued its tradition of playing basketball on this date with a particular focus on Atlanta and Memphis, the respective cities where King was born and tragically killed. The NBA remains committed to continuing Dr. King’s fight for equality and justice with league activations and community engagement.

Here’s a guide to Monday’s full 12-game slate:

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Charlotte Hornets (23-20) vs. New York Knicks (22-21)

Time: 1 hour

The Hornets visit the Knicks who haven’t lost a home game since Dec. 23 thanks to play by RJ Barrett. The third-year swingman came alive for New York, scoring three of his five 30-plus-point games this season at the Garden during that span. The Hornets, who are 11-14 on the road in 2021-22, earned an impressive 109-98 victory in Philadelphia last Wednesday behind Gordon Hayward’s incredible shooting night (13 for 16 of 81.3 % ground). Hayward alongside LaMelo Ball and the Hornets’ young core will look to continue their recent luck on the road and stop the Knicks’ home streak. It was the second of three meetings between the two teams as Charlotte beat New York 104-96 on Nov. 12 in which Ball recorded a career-high 17 rebounds.

Chicago Bulls (27-14) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (30-15)

Time: 3:30 a.m. ET

The Grizzlies will host the East-leading Bulls at the FedEx Forum, a short distance from the National Civil Rights Museum. Chicago will be without All-Star guard Zach LaVine who injured his left knee in a 138-95 loss to Golden State on Friday. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies will be looking to bounce back after their season-high 11-game winning streak was snapped — again by the Warriors — on Thursday. Expect a must-watch matchup between Kia MVP contenders DeMar DeRozan and Ja Morant.

Milwaukee Bucks (27-18) vs. Atlanta Hawks (17-25)

Time: 6 AND

Giannis Antetokounmpo and defending NBA champion Bucks will visit Trae Young and the plummeting Hawks in Atlanta, a city of immense significance on MLK Day. Milwaukee is looking for revenge on Atlanta after Young dropped 42 points Nov. 12 to claim a 120-100 victory in the rematch opener of last year’s Eastern Finals. But the Hawks have struggled to bring that same energy for most of this season, as they fell to 12th in the Eastern Conference and 22nd overall. As for the Bucks, Giannis has absolutely dominated on both sides, scoring 30+ points in seven of the Bucks’ last eight games, resulting in four wins, including a monster 118-99 win over Steph Curry and the Warriors last Thursday. The two-time MVP also set a career high for free throws without a miss when he went 17 for 17 in Saturday’s 103-96 loss to Toronto.

Utah Jazz (29-14) vs Los Angeles Lakers (21-22)

Time: 10:30 a.m. ET

LeBron James and the Lakers will face the Jazz for the first time this season, with both teams hoping to clean up their recent struggles. LeBron led Los Angeles in scoring for 13 consecutive games, but it wasn’t enough as the Lakers just suffered their 3rd straight loss after a blowout 133-96 loss to the Nuggets on Saturday that dropped them below 0.500. Utah ended its four-game losing streak with a comprehensive 125-102 win Sunday at Denver. The rout coincided with Rudy Gobert’s return from health and safety protocols. Unsurprisingly, the Jazz allowed their lowest point total in more than a month after struggling to stop without the Defensive Player of the Year on three occasions.

NBA on MLK Day: complete program

  • New Orleans Pelicans vs. Boston Celtics (12:30 p.m. ET)
  • Philadelphia 76ers at Washington Wizards (2 ETs)
  • Brooklyn Nets at Cleveland Cavaliers (3 ETs)
  • Indiana Pacers at LA Clippers (3:30 a.m. ET)
  • Portland Trail Blazers at Orlando Magic (7 ET)
  • Toronto Raptors vs. Miami Heat (7:30 a.m. ET)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Dallas Mavericks (8:30 a.m. ET)
  • Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs (8:30 a.m. ET)