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Tuesday, October 29, 2019
KNICKS VS BULLS
Venue: Madison Square Garden | Start: 10:00am AEDT
The New York Knicks remain in search of their first victory of the season as they prepare to host the Chicago Bulls on Monday night. The Knicks expect to be without guard Dennis Smith Jr., who reportedly left this weekend because of a death in the family. It is uncertain when Smith will be back. The 21-year-old averaged 14.7 points and 5.4 assists in 21 games with the Knicks last season, but he is off to a slow start this season with averages of one point and one assist in three games. New York has been led on offense by another young playmaker, RJ Barrett, who is averaging 21 points, five rebounds and 2.7 assists in his first three games. The No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft is shooting a whopping 51.0 percent from the field and 53.8 percent from beyond the arc. Chicago will try to climb back to .500 after losing its most recent game against the Toronto Raptors. The Bulls have given up 100-plus points in three straight contests. Zach LaVine leads Chicago with 21.3 points per game, and rookie Coby White has stirred plenty of excitement among Bulls fans with 16.7 points per game in the early going. White was the No. 7 overall pick this year out of North Carolina, and he will get a chance to go up against his old conference rival in Barrett from Duke.
PISTONS VS PACERS
Venue: Little Caesars Arena | Start: 10:00am AEDT
The Indiana Pacers have opened their season with back-to-back losses and will try to avoid an 0-3 start when they visit the Detroit Pistons on Monday night. The teams already have met each other once, with the Pistons pulling away for a 119-110 win in the season opener last Wednesday night. Since then, the Pacers have lost by 11 points to the rebuilding Cleveland Cavaliers, and the Pistons have dropped a pair of games on their home court against the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers. Something has to give as the Pistons wrap up a three-game homestand. Indiana is led by Malcolm Brogdon, their big offseason acquisition from the Milwaukee Bucks. Brogdon is averaging 26 points and 10.5 assists in his first two contests with Indiana. Domantas Sabonis has averaged 20.5 points and nine rebounds, and Myles Turner also has provided a strong presence in the paint with 18 points and 10 rebounds. As for Detroit, former MVP Derrick Rose continues his feel-good comeback story with an average of 25.3 points and five assists in three games off the bench. Andre Drummond should provide a tough matchup against Turner & Co. The Pistons’ big man is averaging 22 points and 15.7 rebounds.
RAPTORS VS MAGIC
Venue: Scotiabank Arena | Start: 10:30am AEDT
Toronto ran through the Magic in the NBA playoffs in 2019 on the way to being crowned champions of the league, but the offseason changes for the Raptors are significant context. Kawhi Leonard recorded one of the most dominant playoff stretches ever, and he will not be a part of Monday’s game, of course. The Magic (1-1) are seeing new life from Markelle Fultz, who provided 12 points off the bench and is showing the same traits he did in college to become the top pick in the draft. The Raptors are 2-1, including dismantling the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. Pascal Siakam appears to be playing on another wavelength, but has a tendency to attempt to do everything. That has led to a team-high 13 turnovers. Siakam is still getting it done in the scoring column, averaging 28.7 points through three games.
HAWKS VS 76ERS
Venue: State Farm Arena | Start: 10:30am AEDT
A pair of undefeated teams will meet when the Philadelphia 76ers visit the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night. Philadelphia has won its first two games against the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons, while Atlanta has won its first two games against the Pistons and Orlando Magic. Expectations are sky high in Philadelphia this season, but the Hawks’ fast start has been much less expected. They will have their hands full against the 76ers, who are getting a team-leading 22 points and 11 rebounds a game from Tobias Harris. Al Horford also has made his presence felt in his first season in Philadelphia with 19.5 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. One player who still is looking for his shot for the 76ers is Josh Richardson, a former Miami Heat sharpshooter who has made only 33.3 percent of his attempts from the field so far this season. Atlanta knows all about sharpshooters as Trae Young has gone bombs away for 38.5 points and nine assists per game in the early going. Jabari Parker is limited defensively but has done his part on offense for the Hawks with 14 points per game off the bench.
ROCKETS VS THUNDER
Venue: Toyota Center | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Oklahoma City Thunder will compete against a familiar face when they take on Russell Westbrook and the host Houston Rockets on Monday night. Emotions are sure to running high for Westbrook, who shined for 11 seasons in Oklahoma City before he was traded to Houston during the offseason in a deal that yielded Chris Paul and draft picks. Now 30 years old, Westbrook is averaging 26 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists for the Rockets, who lost their season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks before bouncing back to beat the New Orleans Pelicans. Alongside Westbrook is top shooter James Harden, who is averaging 24 points, 5.5 boards and 9.5 assists in his first two contests. Oklahoma City will play on short rest after drubbing the Golden State Warriors 120-92 on Saturday evening. Dennis Schroder scored 22 points on 9-for-13 shooting off the bench and Danilo Gallinari added 21 points in 22 minutes. Just as Westbrook might feel conflicted against his former team, the same could be said for Paul, who never realized his dream of winning a championship in Houston. He will try to bounce back from a ho-hum game against Golden State in which he scored 10 points on 2-for-5 shooting.
BUCKS VS CAVALIERS
Venue: Fiserv Forum | Start: 11:00am AEDT
Limiting the opponent’s free throw opportunities could be a difference-maker Monday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Milwaukee Bucks. Cleveland rebounded from an opening loss at Orlando with a 110-99 home win over Indiana on Saturday night, using a 19-11 edge in free throw points as a key advantage in the victory. The Pacers got to the line just 13 times. It’s been a good quarter when the Bucks have held their first two opponents to 13 or fewer foul shots. Houston got 39 attempts in a home loss to the Bucks on Thursday before Miami used 36 as the foundation for a 131-126 overtime win at Milwaukee on Saturday. Offense hasn’t been a problem for the Bucks so far. They’ve averaged 121.5 points, mostly on the strength of 33 3-pointers. The game features a matchup of double-double machines: the Cavaliers’ Kevin Love (16.0 points, 15.5 rebounds) and Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.5 points, 15.0 rebounds). Cavaliers coach John Beilein makes his first NBA trip to Milwaukee after having spent the past 12 seasons accompanying his Michigan team on annual Big Ten Conference visits to Wisconsin.
PELICANS VS WARRIORS
Venue: Smoothie King Center | Start: 11:00am AEDT
Head coach Steve Kerr warned that the Warriors’ opening night struggles might be an ongoing issue and on Sunday at Oklahoma City that indeed seemed to be true when Golden State was crushed 120-92. Now the 0-2 Warriors have to turn around and face the Pelicans on the road Monday night. Their 33-point deficit at halftime was the largest since Kerr became the team’s coach. They were a miserable 30 of 92 from the floor and were outrebounded 50-41. Steph Curry was 2 of 9 from 3-point range and the Warriors were 5 of 33 (15.2 percent) as a team. The Pelicans have showed they can score, it’s defense that has been the issue. New Orleans has averaged 120.3 points per game, but has given up 126.3. Without rookie Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram has 27.3 points per game and 9.3 rebounds, easily exceeding his numbers from his first three seasons with the Lakers. The last time the Pelicans lost their first three games was the 2016-17 season. New Orleans point guard Jrue Holliday did not play in Saturday’s 126-123 loss to the Rockets because of a left knee sprain and he was listed day-to-day.
SPURS VS TRAIL BLAZERS
Venue: AT&T Center | Start: 11:30am AEDT
As one of just four undefeated teams in the Western Conference less than a week into the season, the San Antonio Spurs will try to make it 3-0 when they play host to the Trail Blazers on Monday. After high-scoring victories over the Knicks and Wizards, the Spurs will get their first test from a Western Conference team. The Spurs have averaged 122.0 points per game. In limited minutes as he returns following surgery to repair his ACL, Dejounte Murray is still the Spurs’ assist leader at 5.0 per game and led the team in rebounds Saturday against the Wizards with 10. LaMarcus Aldridge has averaged a team-best 24.5 points in the first two games. The Trail Blazers will enter off a 121-119 victory at Dallas on Sunday, coming back from a 19-point deficit with CJ McCollum scoring 35 points and Damian Lillard adding 28. Hassan Whiteside had 14 rebounds and has averaged exactly 14.0 rebounds in the three games. The Blazers bounced back from a home defeat against the Nuggets to open the season, beating the Kings and Mavericks on the road. Portland forward Zach Collins left Sunday’s game with a left shoulder injury.
SUNS VS JAZZ
Venue: Talking Stick Resort Arena | Start: 1:00pm AEDT
The Suns will strut into a home game against the Jazz on Monday, fresh off an attention-getting victory over the Clippers that has added them to the crowded field of must-see teams in the Western Conference. So much for the concept that the 25-game suspension of Deandre Ayton for the presence of a diuretic in his system would silence a potential feel-good story after Phoenix won its season opener. A clue to Saturday’s victory over a championship favorite in the Clippers came Friday at Denver when Phoenix took a proven Nuggets team into overtime before losing. After he averaged 20.0 points in the Suns’ first two games, Devin Booker poured in 30 against the Clippers while Kelly Oubre Jr. had 20. The Jazz rebounded from a defeat to the Lakers on Friday with a convincing rout of the Kings on Saturday, holding Sacramento to 81 points. No team has scored more than 95 points against the Jazz in their first three games, and their 90.3 points allowed per game was nearly four points better than anybody else in the NBA heading into play Sunday. Defense isn’t Utah’s only calling card. The Jazz tied a franchise record with 13 first-half 3-pointers against the Kings, with free-agent signee Bojan Bogdanovic returning from a sore ankle to score 26 points while hitting five 3s.
KINGS VS NUGGETS
Venue: Golden 1 Center | Start: 1:00pm AEDT
The Nikola Jokic-Marvin Bagley III rivalry already has been one-sided, so you have to wonder what’s in store for the Sacramento Kings when they host the Denver Nuggets on Monday night without their star big man. With Bagley having suffered a fractured thumb on Opening Night in Phoenix, the Kings have opened 0-3 under new coach Luke Walton, who has shifted newcomer Dewayne Dedmon into center spot. Actually, trying something new probably isn’t a bad idea against Jokic, who led Denver to a three-game sweep of Sacramento last season with a triple-double and two double-doubles. If there’s good news for the Kings, it’s that they’ll be playing at home, where they at least were competitive in an earlier 122-112 loss to Portland, as opposed to their blowout results at Phoenix at Utah. One more positive for the Kings: They should be well rested, with Walton having thrown in the towel early in Utah. Key starters De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Harrison Barnes combined for just 19 points in 62 minutes. Meanwhile, the Nuggets had to work overtime for their most recent win Friday at home against the Suns, with big guns Jokic and Jamal Murray both extended over 40 minutes.
CLIPPERS VS HORNETS
Venue: Staples Center | Start: 1:30pm AEDT
Devin Booker was a handful for the Los Angeles Clippers and the Phoenix Suns handed Kawhi Leonard his first loss of the season on Saturday with 30 points. But Leonard the Clippers turned in another great team effort. Leonard had 27 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds and the Clippers kept pace with Phoenix without Paul George. George, 29, remains sidelined by the Clippers are getting great offensive contributions from Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, who had 28 points off the bench against the Suns. The Hornets are not expected to be a major threat come May, but with a mix of young talent — and shooting — the loss of All-Star Kemba Walker in free agency hasn’t been entirely deflating. Miles Bridges and PJ Washington, both of whom showed up on the stat sheet Sunday night against the Lakers, have helped pick up the scoring slack with Walker in Boston.