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Friday, November 8, 2019
HORNETS VS CELTICS
Venue: Spectrum Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
A pair of hot teams will meet when the Boston Celtics visit the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday night. Boston has won five games in a row since dropping its season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers. Three of those five wins have come by single digits, including a 119-113 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers in its most recent contest. Charlotte also enters the matchup feeling confident after posting three straight victories over the Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors and Indiana Pacers. The Hornets needed overtime to escape with a 122-120 win over Indiana on Tuesday but had a day between games to recover. Former Charlotte icon Kemba Walker is in a good place with his new team as he returns to his old arena. Walker is averaging 26.0 points and 5.7 rebounds in his first six starts with the Celtics. He has plenty of talented teammates around him, including Jayson Tatum, who is averaging 21.3 points and 7.5 boards. Charlotte has relied on a team approach to fill in for the departure of Walker. No player on the team is averaging 20 points, but six are averaging in double digits, including team leader Devonte’ Graham at 17.3 points per game. Point guard Terry Rozier, a former Celtic who swapped places with Walker during the offseason, is averaging 16.9 points through his first seven starts.
SPURS VS THUNDER
Venue: AT&T Center | Start: 12:30pm AEDT
While the Oklahoma City Thunder are starting to show some unity with its revamped roster, the San Antonio Spurs are looking for answers amid a recent stumble. The teams will face each other Thursday at San Antonio. The Thunder are on a two-game winning streak after a 102-94 victory over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday. New guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander continues to produce, notching a team-high 24 points against the Magic. Another new guard, Chris Paul, had 20 points and said after Tuesday’s game that the team is now “figuring it out.” The Thunder have yet to figure it out on the road, though, in two previous tries. The Spurs are feeling exactly the opposite after two consecutive defeats and losses in three of their last four games. San Antonio enters Thursday’s game coming off a 108-100 defeat at Atlanta on Tuesday. The Spurs entered third best in the NBA in rebounding but the Hawks had a 48-41 advantage on the boards even though Atlanta forward John Collins was starting a PED suspension. San Antonio blew an eight-point lead entering the fourth quarter. DeMar DeRozan leads the Spurs with 20.6 points per game. Trey Lyles averages 8.3 rebounds in just 20.1 minutes per game, while Rudy Gay has 7.6 rebounds per game off the bench for the Spurs.
SUNS VS HEAT
Venue: Talking Stick Resort Arena | Start: 1:00pm AEDT
The Miami Heat and Phoenix Suns bring dueling – and surprising – 5-2 records into their contest Thursday night in Arizona. Neither team would have been predicted to be off to starts like these either. The Suns boast a three-game winning streak and are coming off a 114-109 victory over Philadelphia, the 76ers’ first loss of the season. Devin Booker dropped 40 points in that one Monday night and has been lights out to start the season, averaging 26.1 points per game. Booker is one of six Suns averaging double figures. Ricky Rubio is one of those, averaging 12.7 ppg while also leading the team in rebounds, assists and steals. For the Heat, their early success continues to ride on the shoulders of the undrafted Kendrick Nunn, who leads the team at 18.3 ppg. The rookie guard is one of seven players averaging double figures. Jimmy Butler is averaging 15.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 6.5 assists in his four games played. The Heat are in the midst of a three-game road trip and are coming off a 20-point loss at Denver on Tuesday night. They’ll conclude their travels Friday night in Los Angeles to face the Lakers. The Suns are 3-1 at home.
CLIPPERS VS TRAIL BLAZERS
Venue: Staples Center | Start: 2:30pm AEDT
Thursday night’s contest between the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers features a battle between two of the top 5 scorers in the NBA. Damian Lillard puts his 31.1 points per game against Kawhi Leonard’s 29.3. The Blazers are trying to find themselves this young season, and going to L.A. might not be the ideal place to get things back on track. The Blazers (3-4) are in the throes of a two-game losing skid – including a loss to injury depleted Golden State on Monday night. The scoring is there for Portland but defensively, the Blazers are allowing the 8th most points per game at 115.3. The Clippers (5-3) are on a back-to-back and salty after suffering their first home loss of the season to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night. Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell each scored 34 points on a night when Leonard rested for the second time this season. The Clips had won two consecutive before their 129-124 loss to Milwaukee. Williams and Harrell are the second and third leading scorers on the Clips. Center Hassan Whiteside is off to a nice start for Portland, averaging 14.3 points and 12.0 rebounds per game.