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NBA Preview: Don’t Look Now, But the Celtics Are in Position to Make a Move

The Celtics lost Monday to the Wizards, 99-91, with Kemba Walker sidelined with the flu, but they’d won eight of nine before that. Now they are heading into a soft part of their schedule, with three of their next four against sub-.500 teams. They already have the third-best record and point differential in the NBA. If Walker can shake off that bug, they could start to make some serious noise.

Wednesday, January 8
Denver Nuggets (25-11) at Dallas Mavericks (23-13)
7:30pm ET on ESPN
Nikola Jokic dropped a career-best 47 points Monday in the Nuggets’ 123-115 win over the Hawks in Atlanta. The Mavs beat the Bulls on Monday, 118-110 with Luka Dončić posting a 38-11-10 for his league best 11th triple-double.

Milwaukee Bucks (32-6) at Golden State Warriors (9-29)
10pm ET on ESPN
The Bucks suffered their biggest loss of the season on Monday, falling 126-104 to the Spurs, who buried them under an avalanche of three-pointers, as they hit 19 of 35 from downtown. The Warriors have lost five in a row for the third time this season following Monday’s 111-98 defeat at the hands of the Kings. The Dubs have now lost more games than they had in any of the previous five seasons.

Thursday, January 9
Boston Celtics (25-9) at Philadelphia 76ers (24-14)
7pm ET on TNT
The Celtics, who were without flu-stricken Kemba Walker for a third straight game, found themselves in an 11-point hole at the half Monday against the Wizards, and couldn’t recover losing 99-94. The Sixers held on for a 120-113 win Monday over the Thunder, behind Ben Simmons’ 17-15-8, but may have lost Joel Embiid, who’s questionable for Thursday after dislocating a finger.

Houston Rockets (24-11) at Oklahoma City Thunder (20-16)
9:30pm ET on TNT
James Harden went 44-11-11 Friday to lead the Rockets to a 118-108 victory over the Sixers, while Clint Capela chipped in with 30 points and 14 rebounds — imagine going 30-14 and being an afterthought. Steven Adams led the Thunder with 24 points and 15 boards Monday, but it wasn’t enough as OKC fell to the Sixers 120-113.

Friday, January 10
New Orleans Pelicans (12-25) at New York Knicks (10-26)
7:15pm ET on ESPN
Three missed time-out signals and a dubious non-foul call on Monday contributed to the Pelicans’ 128-126 loss to the Jazz, wasting a 35-point effort from Brandon Ingram. Marcus Morris led all scorers with 38, but the Knicks fell short Monday, losing 135-132 to the Clippers, who had three guys score 30+.

Los Angeles Lakers (29-7) at Dallas Mavericks (23-13)
9:45pm ET on ESPN
LeBron James had another triple-double on Sunday, with 21-14-11, to lead the Lakers to a 106-99 win over the Pistons. Luka Dončić now has 19 career triple-doubles, which are the most ever by a player 21 or under, besting Magic Johnson’s old mark of 13. Dončić’s turns 21 on February 28, so he’s got time to pad that stat.

Stats courtesy ESPN