Joe Johnson left Phoenix for Atlanta nearly four years ago, and now he's finally experiencing some team success. Johnson's Hawks are in contention for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, though they have struggled lately and are dealing with the loss of center Al Horford. The Suns, meanwhile, are part of what's shaping up as a hotly contested West playoff race involving nine strong teams for eight spots.
2 of 6Greg Nelson/SI
Lakers at Spurs | Wednesday, Jan. 14, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
The Western Conference rivals finally meet for the first time this season. The Spurs are 16-6 when their Big Three of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili play together. Kobe Bryant and the Lakers beat San Antonio in five games in last season's conference semifinals.
3 of 6John W. McDonough/SI, Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Hornets at Cavaliers | Friday, Jan. 16, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
LeBron James may be the leading MVP candidate, but Chris Paul isn't too far behind. In fact, Paul is neck-and-neck with James in the NBA's all-around efficient category. Paul is also the only player in the league with more than one triple-double this season (he has three).
4 of 6Bill Frakes/SI
Magic at Lakers | Friday, Jan. 16, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
An NBA Finals preview? Not as farfetched as it looked at the start of the season, considering how well the Magic have played in keeping pace with the Cavaliers and Celtics in the Eastern Conference. Orlando entered the week with a 15-4 record against the West, including a 106-103 victory against the Lakers last month in which Jameer Nelson scored 27 points to help offset Kobe's 41.
5 of 6Al Tielemans/SI
76ers at Knicks | Saturday, Jan. 17, 7:30 p.m.
Philadelphia is trying to play more like Mike D'Antoni's Knicks under interim coach Tony DiLeo. So, at the very least, this has the makings of a high-scoring, free-flowing game. The Elton Brand-less Sixers carried a season-high four-game winning streak into this week, and Andre Iguodala has come alive after a slow start.
6 of 6Greg Nelson/SI
Jazz at Mavericks | Saturday, Jan. 17, 9 p.m.
Given the tightly crowded playoff picture in the West, every matchup like this is important. Utah and Dallas began the week with identical 22-15 records. The Mavs have recovered from a dreadful start thanks in part to Sixth Man Award front-runner Jason Terry, who is averaging 20.5 points in 34.8 minutes.
You May Like
Sign Up for our Newsletter
Don't get stuck on the sidelines! Sign up to get exclusives, daily highlights, analysis and more—delivered right to your inbox!