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Thursday, November 7, 2019
PISTONS VS KNICKS
Venue: Little Caesars Arena | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Detroit Pistons hope to welcome back veterans Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose from injuries when they host the New York Knicks on Wednesday night, but neither player’s return is guaranteed. Griffin has yet to play this season because of hamstring and knee injuries but recently started practicing and told reporters he was “very close.” Rose has missed two games in a row because of a hamstring injury, which followed his electric 23-point performance against the Chicago Bulls last Friday. Either way, the Pistons will have Andre Drummond, who has turned into a double-double force in the paint with averages of 21.3 points and 19.4 rebounds. The Knicks are in a free fall and badly need a win to alleviate some of the pressure that has been building on coach David Fizdale. Rookie guard RJ Barrett has been fantastic with 18.3 points and 6.1 rebounds in his first seven games, but collectively the team has not done enough on both ends of the court. Marcus Morris is next on the scoring list with 17.9 points per game, while Julius Randle has scored 13.4 points per contest. The Knicks are looking for their first road win in their fifth try.
PACERS VS WIZARDS
Venue: Bankers Life Fieldhouse | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Indiana Pacers could be in a bad mood at tipoff when they host the Washington Wizards on Wednesday. Indiana is coming off a 122-120 overtime loss to the Charlotte Hornets one night earlier in which it blew a 14-point lead during the fourth quarter. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Pacers, who will look to start a new streak against the reeling Wizards. Indiana likely will turn to its top performers, including Malcolm Brogdon and T.J. Warren, to make that happen. Brogdon dropped 31 points against Charlotte on Tuesday night while Warren eclipsed him with 33 points. Washington is aiming for back-to-back victories for the first time this season after knocking off the Detroit Pistons 115-99 on Monday night. The Wizards have dropped four of six games this season but figure to have the best player on either team in Bradley Beal, who is averaging 26.5 points, 4.7 rebounds and 6.3 assists so far this season. Rookie Rui Hachimura has started each of the first six games and resembles a competent veteran with 14.7 points and 5.7 rebounds. Washington is 1-2 on the road, and Indiana is 2-1 at home.
RAPTORS VS KINGS
Venue: Scotiabank Arena | Start: 11:30am AEDT
After starting the season 0-5, the Sacramento Kings bring a modest two-game winning streak into Toronto on Wednesday night for a matchup with the defending champions. However, the Kings will be visiting a Raptors team that has yet to lose at home. Toronto is coming off a 10-point loss at Milwaukee earlier this week but it is 3-0 in their own arena. Pascal Siakam has asserted himself as the player to fill the scoring void left by Kawhi Leonard, averaging 26.0 points per game early on for Toronto. Guard Kyle Lowry is right behind at 24.0 points per game. De’Aaron Fox has fueled the Kings’ streak, pumping in 49 points the past two games. The third-year guard is averaging 18.6 points per game, one of five players in double figures for the Kings. The Kings clipped the Jazz by one point Friday to earn their first victory and followed that with a 113-92 win over the hapless Knicks on Sunday. The Raptors, meanwhile, have not showed any effects of a title hangover. They are off to a 4-2 start with their two losses coming at Boston and Milwaukee. Siakam’s scoring average is up nearly 10 points over last year and 16 for his career.
ROCKETS VS WARRIORS
Venue: Toyota Center | Start: 11:30am AEDT
The Houston Rockets will try out a new look against the team that has ended their season four of the last five years. Russell Westbrook now joins James Harden’s quest to extract a measure of revenge against the visiting Golden State Warriors. Harden was paired with Chris Paul in the backcourt in the Western Conference semifinals last May when the Rockets were rendered to nothing more than a bump in the road on the Warriors’ path to a fifth straight berth in the NBA Finals. The guys most responsible for the 4-2 series win — top scorers Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson — won’t be getting in the way this time around, with Durant now in Brooklyn while Curry and Thompson sit out with injuries. Out of necessity, the Warriors also will trot out a new look Wednesday, led by rookie revelation Eric Paschall, whose 34 points Monday against Portland were more than he scored in any game of his four-year college career at Fordham and Villanova. In a duel of teams coming off a win Monday, expect a barrage of rim-seeking 3-pointers when Harden (25.3 percent on a league-leading 95 attempts) and Warriors rookie Jordan Poole (2-for-his-last-11) go head-to-head.
HAWKS VS BULLS
Venue: State Farm Arena | Start: 11:30am AEDT
The Atlanta Hawks will go for their second victory in as many nights when they host the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday. Atlanta is coming off an impressive 108-100 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday, when the Hawks relied on a dominant 38-22 advantage in the fourth quarter to rally for the victory. Trae Young showed no signs of an early-season injury as he racked up 29 points on 10-for-23 shooting, including 5-for-10 shooting from beyond the arc. Jabari Parker added 19 points and eight rebounds as he prepares to face his former Bulls teammates. Chicago will try to regroup after a demoralizing 118-112 loss at home against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. The Bulls led by 18 points in the second half before letting yet another lead slip away. Wendell Carter Jr. provided a bright spot with his fifth double-double of the season, and Chicago will count on him to anchor the frontcourt against Atlanta. Lauri Markkanen is looking for more consistency after scoring only seven points in 30 minutes against the Lakers. Chandler Hutchison will aim to build upon his season debut in which he scored five points off the bench against Los Angeles.
GRIZZLIES VS TIMBERWOLVES
Venue: FedExForum | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
Karl-Anthony Towns returns from suspension and the Minnesota Timberwolves hope to end their dreadful ways against the Grizzlies on Wednesday night in Memphis. Towns was suspended two games for his fracas with Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid last week, and his absence was felt in the Wolves’ 134-106 loss to Milwaukee on Monday night. The Bucks outscored the Wolves 62-38 in the paint. Now they go up against a Grizzlies team that is mired in a three-game losing skid and has one just one win all season. However, the Grizzlies own a 27-10 record against the Timberwolves over this decade, a trend the Wolves hope to reverse. Towns was leading the Wolves in scoring at 27.3 points per game through four games, but Andrew Wiggins (21.2 points per game) has been the team’s leading scorer the past four games, including the two Towns missed. The Grizzlies are off to a 1-5 start and are led by rookie guard Ja Morant, who leads the team in scoring (19.5 points per game) and assists (5.5). The Grizzlies are coming off a 107-100 loss to the Houston Rockets on Monday night, a game in which James Harden poured in 44 points. The Grizzlies are 0-2 on their current homestand.
MAVERICKS VS MAGIC
Venue: American Airlines Center | Start: 12:30pm AEDT
The Orlando Magic hope to continue to be a nightmarish matchup for Luka Doncic when the Dallas Mavericks play host the Eastern Conference club on Wednesday night. Doncic will be looking for a third straight triple-double, but will be looking for it against a team against which he’s never recorded even a double-double. In fact, the last time the Magic visited Dallas, Doncic fans walked away disappointed even in a 25-point win last December. He was harassed into 2-for-11 shooting that night, and the second-lowest scoring output of his 78-game career with seven points. Seven points is just four fewer than Orlando’s new point guard, Markelle Fultz, has averaged in two starts since earning a promotion over the weekend. The spark the top pick of the 2017 draft was supposed to provide has been barely a fizzle, as the Magic, who have lost three in a row, have added a sixth and seventh sub-100-point performance to a low-scoring run at the start of the season. The home team has provided all the fireworks when these two have gotten together in recent years. In fact, it’s been almost nine years (January of 2011) since the Magic have won at Dallas.
JAZZ VS 76ERS
Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena | Start: 1:00pm AEDT
Joel Embiid will be back from suspension Wednesday when the Philadelphia 76ers continue their Western Conference road swing with a game against the Utah Jazz. Embiid was shut down for two games as punishment for his altercation on and off the court with the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns on Oct. 30. The Sixers went 1-1 without Embiid, falling 114-109 on Monday at Phoenix for their first defeat of the season. As expected, Al Horford picked up the slack in Embiid’s absence, scoring 25 points and 32 points respectively in consecutive games. Furkan Korkmaz received his first start of the season Monday, and just the eighth of his NBA career, scoring 20 points while going 4 of 7 from 3-point range. The Jazz will finally be able to break free from their tough Western Conference schedule to start the season but only have to face the Sixers on Wednesday and the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday. Donovan Mitchell is scoring 25.7 points per game, ahead of the pace from his impressive 2018-19 season when he scored 23.8 per game and was a notable All-Star Game snub. Jazz center Rudy Gobert, who has averaged double figures in rebounds in each of the last four seasons, is back at it again in the early going with 12.0 rebounds per game.
CLIPPERS VS BUCKS
Venue: Staples Center | Start: 2:00pm AEDT
It was supposed to feel like a rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals when the Milwaukee Bucks travel to Los Angeles on Wednesday to face Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers. But the Clippers announced that Leonard will not play as part of his load-management strategy. Last season, it was Leonard’s Toronto Raptors that rallied from a 2-0 series deficit to the Bucks and advance to the NBA Finals where they defeated the Golden State Warriors. Now Leonard has the Clippers looking like a contender. Los Angeles is off to a 5-2 start and will enter off a 105-94 victory Sunday against the Utah Jazz. The Clippers will face the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday, leading to L.A.’s decision to not have Leonard play against the Bucks. Leonard was held out of the Clippers’ Oct. 30 game at Utah that ended with a 110-96 defeat. The Bucks won’t complain. But at 5-2 it’s not as if they were desperate to gain an advantage. NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is dominating once again this season, having led the Bucks in scoring, rebounding and assists in five if the team’s seven games. He is coming off a 34-point, 15-rebound performance against a Minnesota Timberwolves team that was missing big man Karl-Anthony Towns because of suspension. Khris Middleton matched a season high with 26 points Monday and has averaged 19.4 points per game this season.