If you’ve got a basketball jones, then we’ve got all the action you need this weekend.
In this edition of the Showstopper, we’re dishing important stats and analysis for a pair of fast-paced NBA showdowns: Warriors vs. Lakers and Suns vs. Bucks!
We’ll also turn to college hoops for No. 16 USC vs. No. 17 UCLA, as the regular season wraps up with a rivalry game before March Matchups.
Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Saturday, March 5 | TV: ABC
After getting blown out by the Clippers on Thursday night, the Lakers ride a four-game losing streak into a tough matchup with the Warriors. It’s been an uphill climb for LeBron James to lead this club back to the playoffs without Anthony Davis by his side. Davis continues to rehab a foot sprain and won’t be re-evaluated until mid-March. The Warriors haven’t been great on the road (17-13) and are coming off three straight losses to the Mavericks (twice) and the Timberwolves. But while their defense hasn’t been inspiring, the Warriors offense continues to rack up points, and Steph Curry will be hungry to get his team back on track in this nationally televised showdown.
Golden State is currently winning the head-to-head battle after defeating L.A. by scores of 121-114 and 117-115 in a pair of competitive, high-scoring games. Klay Thompson was superb in his last outing against the Lakers, as he went 5-of-9 from three-point range and scored 33 points. The Warriors have been missing the presence of their do-it-all star Draymond Green, who remains sidelined with a back injury. Look for rookie Jonathan Kuminga and Gary Payton II to get most of the extra minutes in Draymond’s absence. Kuminga scored 18 points and pulled down nine rebounds in his last game versus the Lakers.
Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Sunday, March 6 | TV: ABC
The Suns became the first team in the NBA to post 50 wins as they attempt to run away with the Western Conference crown. They’ll have to manage without their star shooting guard in the lineup, at least for this weekend. Devin Booker entered the league’s health and safety protocols and will likely miss this game. Point guard Chris Paul is also out with a fractured right thumb. That means more work for Jae Crowder, Deandre Ayton, and Cameron Johnson to pick up the scoring slack. Johnson has been red-hot from beyond the arc and he’s coming off back-to-back 20-point games heading into the weekend.
Entering Friday night’s action, the Suns and Bucks have both gone 3-2 over their last five games. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton have all been hitting their stride on the offensive end for the Bucks. The trio powered the Bucks to score 120 points or more in their last five contests, despite the mixed results. The Suns did dominate the Bucks 131-107 when these teams last met on February 10, but without Booker and Paul on the court, this is a much more winnable rematch for the Bucks at home.
No. 16 USC Trojans vs. No. 17 UCLA Bruins
Saturday, March 5 | TV: ESPN
The last regular-season matchup for these Top 25-ranked clubs is an intriguing rivalry battle. Both USC and UCLA have gone 14-5 in conference play thus far. Back on Feb. 12, these teams traded baskets until the final buzzer sounded, with the Trojans notching a narrow 67-64 victory. USC guard Drew Peterson went 4-of-5 from beyond the arc and scored 27 points in that win. He’s also hit the 20-point mark in two of his last three games. UCLA guard Tyger Campbell matched him with 27 points of his own in the loss. Campbell’s been nursing a shoulder injury but should be well-rested for this rematch.
The key injury update to watch is the status of UCLA guard Johnny Juzang, who remains 50-50 to play against USC due to a sprained ankle. Juzang’s ability to play on Saturday may very well come down to a game-time decision. The Bruins have lost five straight games to the Trojans, which is their longest skid to USC since the 1940s. The Trojans have won six of their last seven games, with their last defeat coming on Tuesday to No. 2 Arizona.