3 stats ahead of key national TV games in Week 1
Here are key numbers to know as you tune-in to this week's nationally televised games.
Wednesday, Oct. 20
Denver Nuggets at Phoenix Suns, 10 ET, ESPN
- The Suns swept the Nuggets 4-0 in the Western Conference semifinals behind a combined 50.8 points per game from Chris Paul and Devin Booker. Paul averaged 25.5 points on 63/75/100 shooting splits to with 10.3 assists and 5.0 rebounds. Booker averaged 25.3 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists.
- Kia MVP Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets in the series with 25.0 points, 13.3 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game; in his matchup with Suns big man Deandre Ayton, Jokic scored 56 points in 36:56 of matchup time while only allowing Phoenix’s big man to score 34 points in 34:17. Will Barton (16.3 ppg), Michael Porter Jr. (15.3 ppg) and Monte Morris (11.3 ppg) also averaged double figures for the Nuggets in the series.
- The Nuggets will look to preseason standout rookie Bones Hyland to bring some offensive energy while Jamal Murray is still recovering from a knee injury. Hyland averaged 15.2 points (fourth among rookies) in 27.8 minutes per game during their five preseason games.
Thursday, Oct. 21
Dallas Mavericks at Atlanta Hawks, 7:30 ET, TNT
- After being traded for one another on Draft night in 2018, Luka Doncic and Trae Young have faced each other head-to-head four times. Luka holds a 3-1 edge with averages of 25.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.0 assists, while Young has averaged 21.8 points, 9.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds.
- Doncic and Young were two of the five players in the NBA last season to average at least 25 points and seven assists. Doncic ranked sixth in both categories, while Young finished 14th in scoring and second in assists.
- In two games against Dallas last season, John Collins averaged 34 points on 74.4% shooting and 10 rebounds. It was his highest field goal percentage against any opponent and highest scoring average against any team he faced more than once (he had 38 points in one game vs. Golden State). Collins scored 26 points on 11-12 shooting in 8:58 of matchup time with Maxi Kleber and 10 points on 5-5 shooting in 6:21 against Kristaps Porzingis.
Friday, Oct. 22
Brooklyn Nets at Philadelphia 76ers, 7:30 ET, ESPN
- Brooklyn opened the season with a 127-104 loss to Milwaukee despite a 32-point, 11-rebound performance from Kevin Durant and shooting 53.1% (17-32) from beyond the arc. Last season, the Nets went 10-1 when shooting better than 50% from 3-point range. Against the Bucks on Tuesday, the Nets shot just 38.5% (20-52) on 2-point shots and 56.5% (13-23) from the free throw line. They shot below 60% on free throws only twice last season (1-1).
- Kevin Durant did not face the Sixers last season, while Kyrie Irving (37 points) and James Harden (26 points) were Brooklyn’s leading scorers against Philly, appearing in one game apiece. While Harden and Durant should be available Friday, Irving is not with the team as the season gets underway. Joel Embiid appeared in all three games against Brooklyn and led the Sixers with averages of 30.7 points and 11.3 rebounds.
- Second-year guard Isaiah Joe followed up a strong Summer League showing (14.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg) by leading the Sixers in scoring during the preseason at 16.8 points on 60/59/100 shooting splits in 24.4 minutes per game. Joe should crack the Sixers rotation early in the season as Shake Milton is out due to injury and Ben Simmons’ status remains in flux heading into the season opener.
Saturday, Oct. 23
Miami Heat at Indiana Pacers, 7:00 ET, NBA TV
- The Pacers won the season series with the Heat last season, 2-1, and had seven players average in double figures while appearing in all three games. Malcolm Brogdon and Doug McDermott (now with San Antonio) led the Pacers at 15.3 ppg, while Caris LeVert was the team’s seventh-leading scorer in the series at 11.7 ppg.
- Tyler Herro was a standout for the Heat during the preseason, averaging 22.4 points (fifth among all players) on efficient shooting splits in 26.9 minutes per game over five games. After averaging just 9.3 points on 31.6% shooting in the playoffs last season, Herro looks prepared for a major bounce back in the regular season.
- Domantas Sabonis was one of five players to average at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists last season, joining two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, 2020-21 MVP Nikola Jokic, 2016-17 MVP Russell Westbrook and fellow All-Star Julius Randle.
Sunday, Oct. 24
Boston Celtics at Houston Rockets, 7:00 ET, NBA TV
- Jaylen Brown scored 25 points in his only preseason game on Oct. 4 before missing the rest of the preseason due to COVID-19. He is expected to be back in Boston’s starting lineup for the season opener on Wednesday. Brown enters his fifth season coming off a year that saw him set career highs in nearly every category: points (24.7), assists (3.4), steals (1.2), blocks (0.6), 3-pointers made (2.8), double-doubles (10), field goal percentage (48.4%), 3-point percentage (39.7) and free throw percentage (76.4%).
- For the Rockets, all eyes will be on No. 2 overall Draft pick Jalen Green, who averaged 13.3 points in four preseason games after finishing the Summer League as the event’s 10th-leading scorer (20.3 ppg). The young Rockets — with an average age of 24 — will look to get full seasons from Kevin Porter Jr. (16.3 ppg in the preseason after playing just 26 games last season) and Christian Wood (13.5 ppg, 10.3 rpg in the preseason after playing 41 games last season).
- The Celtics won the season series with the Rockets 2-0 in 2020-21, with wins by 16 and 27 points. Jayson Tatum (24.5 ppg) and Jaylen Brown (23.0 ppg) each shot 52.9% from the field against Houston. Robert Williams III averaged 18.0 points (his highest mark against any opponent by 6.5 ppg), 11.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 22.5 minutes per game.