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Saturday, November 9, 2019
MAGIC VS GRIZZLIES
Venue: Amway Center | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Orlando Magic will try to end a four-game losing streak when they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night. Orlando’s last three losses have come by single digits, including a 107-106 defeat to the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. The good news for the Magic is that they are heading back home, where they are 2-2 and where they have accounted for their only two victories of the season. Veteran big man Nikola Vucevic leads the Magic with 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, and Evan Fournier has provided support on the offensive end with 14.3 points per game. Much like Orlando, Memphis is struggling and has only two victories on the season. The Grizzlies lost three in a row before winning their last game, a 137-121 decision over the Minnesota Timberwolves that included a team-high 31 points from Dillon Brooks and 26 points from rookie Ja Morant. Through his first seven games, Morant is averaging 20.4 points and 5.3 assists per game while shooting an impressive 52.3 percent from the field. This is the teams’ first meeting of the season.
WIZARDS VS CAVALIERS
Venue: Capital One Arena | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Cleveland Cavaliers will aim for their first road win of the season when they visit the Washington Wizards on Friday night. Cleveland is 0-3 away from home as it prepares to begin a three-game road trip with stops in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. The Cavaliers also are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and looking for their first victory since Oct. 30, when they held on for a 117-111 win over the Chicago Bulls. Kevin Love leads Cleveland with an average of 18.9 points and 14.4 rebounds per game in seven starts. Tristan Thompson also is averaging a double-double with 16.9 points and 11.6 rebounds, while Collin Sexton is the leading backcourt scorer with 17.4 points per contest. Washington has lost five of its first seven games, including a 121-106 defeat to the Indiana Pacers in its most recent game Wednesday night. Bradley Beal offers star power to the Wizards, whom he leads with 27.0 points and 6.1 assists per game. The problem is that the Wizards lack depth after Beal. Thomas Bryant and Isaiah Thomas are tied for second on the team with 13.6 points per game.
PACERS VS PISTONS
Venue: Bankers Life Fieldhouse | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers will meet for the third time in 10 games this season when they tip off Friday night in Indianapolis. Detroit is 2-0 so far against Indiana with a 119-110 win in the season opener Oct. 23 on the Pacers’ court, as well as a 96-94 win Oct. 28 in Detroit. Now the Pistons could add muscle to the rivalry. Power forward Blake Griffin has been cleared to resume all basketball activities, and his status is day-to-day heading into Friday’s matchup. Griffin has not played this year as he recovers from knee and hamstring injuries and is hoping to make his season debut. Another Pistons veteran, point guard Derrick Rose, also is considered day-to-day as he deals with a hamstring injury. Indiana has won four of its past five games, including a 121-106 blowout victory against the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. Detroit has lost three of its last five but is coming off a big 122-102 win over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night. The Pacers are 3-1 at home so far this season, and the Pistons are 1-3 on the road.
HAWKS VS KINGS
Venue: State Farm Arena | Start: 11:30am AEDT
The Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks share a common thread when they meet Friday night in Atlanta: doldrums. The teams have five wins between them and both are trying to dig their way out of early season holes. The Hawks (3-4) have lost four of their past five, including two of their past three on this homestand. The Hawks were throttled by the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night, losing by 20 at home. The Kings limp in at 2-6 but have played better of late. They took the Toronto Raptors to the wire Wednesday night before losing, 124-120. They had won consecutive games going into that contest. Trae Young leads a very young Hawks team in scoring with 24.2 points per game but the team suffered a blow with the 25-game suspension of John Collins and his 17 points per game. The only other player scoring in double figures for Atlanta is Jabari Parker (15.1 ppg). Their 102.6 points per game is 27th in the NBA. De’Aaron Fox brings his team-leading 18.4 points per game into the contest. The Kings made a franchise-tying 20 3-pointers against the Raptors, prompting Toronto coach Nick Nurse to say the Kings were “tough to get rid of.”
PELICANS VS RAPTORS
Venue: Smoothie King Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
Not much has changed since the Toronto Raptors defeated the New Orleans Pelicans on Opening Night of the NBA season: The Raptors have continued to win while the Pels have continued to swoon. The defending champs opened their title defense with a 130-122 OT victory over the visiting Pelicans on Oct. 22. Game 2 is Friday night in New Orleans. The Raptors (5-2) have won four more times since the opener, including holding off a pesky Sacramento team, 124-120, on Wednesday night. The Pelicans have just one victory – 122-107 over Denver – against six losses so far. Pascal Siakam (25.6) and Kyle Lowry (24.0) are emerging as a formidable scoring tandem for Toronto, a top 10 scoring team. The Pelicans, too, are formidable offensively, scoring 119.3 points per game, good for 4th in the league. But they’re also last in scoring defense, allowing foes to post 124.3 points per game. Brandon Ingram, who just poured in 40 Monday night in a loss to Brooklyn, is averaging a team-high 25.9 points per game. Good for the Pelicans is that they’ve had three days off, allowing guard Lonzo Ball to get over cramping issues that forced him out of the Nets’ game. He’s expected to play.
TIMBERWOLVES VS WARRIORS
Venue: Target Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
The Golden State Warriors and host Minnesota Timberwolves duel on Friday night in what could turn into a race to a gazillion and one. According to Karl-Anthony Towns, that’s how much it would have taken in order for the Timberwolves to possibly beat Memphis on Wednesday night. It didn’t happen in the 137-121 track meet, but anything’s possible given the current state of the Golden State roster. While the Timberwolves were getting scorched by the Grizzlies, the Warriors were watching James Harden burn them for 36 points in 35 minutes in a blowout loss in Houston. A Rockets team that had missed 91 of its 143 3-point attempts in its previous three games found the Warriors-afforded freedom beyond the arc to their liking in a 21-for-45 (47 percent) effort. If there’s good news for the Warriors on Friday, it’s that the Timberwolves have defended the line even worse than they have. Reaching a gazillion takes less time if done by threes, and these two have allowed a combined total of more than 27 per game at close to a 40-percent clip so far. The Warriors expect D’Angelo Russell back after a three-game absence due to a sprained ankle. That might actually help the Timberwolves, as Russell was the primary defender when Devin Booker and Patty Mills each bombed Golden State for six threes earlier this season.
MAVERICKS VS KNICKS
Venue: American Airlines Center | Start: 12:30pm AEDT
The worst the Eastern Conference has to offer will meet one of the best in the west Friday when the New York Knicks hit to the road to face the Dallas Mavericks. The Knicks are on a four-game losing streak and have won just once in eight tries. The Mavericks are 5-2 and have won consecutive games, but had to hang on in the closing seconds Wednesday in order to defeat the Orlando Magic 107-106. Luka Doncic had another 27 points in that one and has scored a team-leading 26.7 points per game with 9.9 rebounds and 9.1 assists. Doncic has three triple-doubles this season. The Knicks do have a victory over the Chicago Bulls but that was five games ago and a team predicted to struggle is doing just that. Marcus Morris and rookie RJ Barrett each have scored 17.9 points per game to lead the team. As a group, though, the Knicks are scoring 99.9 points per game, second worst in the NBA heading into play Thursday. On defense, New York at least is in the middle of the pack allowing 110.4 points per game so all is not a complete disaster. The Knicks are also holding teams to 37.2-percent shooting from 3-point range, which is 10th best in the league.
JAZZ VS BUCKS
Venue: Vivint Smart Home Arena | Start: 1:00pm AEDT
Swimming through a Western Conference road trip while avoiding a pair of sharks, the Bucks figure to be in a full-fledged fight on Friday when they travel to Utah to face the Jazz. Milwaukee started the trip with consecutive victories, but the Minnesota Timberwolves were without Karl-Anthony Towns on Monday and on Wednesday they faced the Los Angeles Clippers without Kawhi Leonard. On a four-game winning streak after an Oct. 30 defeat to the Boston Celtics, the Bucks are getting it done behind all-everything Giannis Antetokounmpo, who delivered a triple-double in the season opener and has offered a double-double in every game since, including a season-high 38 points with 16 rebounds against the Clippers. The Jazz will enter off a 106-104 victory Wednesday over the Philadelphia 76ers that was marked by the return of Sixers forward Joel Embiid from suspension. The Jazz had a 50-42 rebounding advantage over the Sixers and will have to bring that same focus on the glass against the Bucks, which entered play Thursday leading the NBA with 51.9 rebounds per game. While Antetokounmpo is third in the NBA with 14.3 rebounds per game, the Jazz’s Rudy Gobert is fourth with 12.5. Donovan Mitchell leads Utah with 25.5 points per game, while free-agent pickup Bojan Bogdanovic has scored 20.1.
NUGGETS VS 76ERS
Venue: Pepsi Center | Start: 1:00pm AEDT
The Denver Nuggets will go for their third win in a row when they host the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night. Denver has won its past two games against the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat, with the former victory coming on the road and the latter coming at home. The Nuggets have benefited from 18.9 points per game from Jamal Murray, who is capable of going off at any time. Nikola Jokic is averaging 14.9 points and 9.7 rebounds per game, while Will Barton is not far behind with 14.2 points per game. Philadelphia has lost its past two games and will try to avoid a three-game losing streak. The 76ers lost 106-104 to the Utah Jazz in their last game, which followed a 114-109 loss to the Phoenix Suns. Philadelphia is led in scoring by Joel Embiid, who is averaging 24.3 points per game to go along with 11.8 rebounds. This will be the first meeting between the teams since Feb. 8 of last season, when Philadelphia held on for a 117-110 win.
TRAIL BLAZERS VS NETS
Venue: Moda Center | Start: 2:00pm AEDT
When the Brooklyn Nets and Portland Trail Blazers go head-to-head Friday night, it will give rival point guards Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard an opportunity to bring out the best in each other. Defensively. Neither has been his usual driving force the last three times they’ve met in Portland, with Irving having arrived twice with the Cleveland Cavaliers and most recently as a Boston Celtic. Irving has been significantly subpar in those games, having totaled just 41 points on 16-for-57 shooting (28 percent). Lillard has looked brilliant in comparison despite having totaled just 59 points on 18-for-43 shooting (42 percent). And as the leaders have gone, so have gone their teams, with Lillard’s Trail Blazers having swept the three games despite averaging just 101 points.
Irving’s guys have gone down with a whimper, scoring 82, 86 and 94. Each All-Star has his work cut out for him Friday. The Nets, missing Kevin Durant and quite possibly DeAndre Jordan, have yet to win on the road this season (0-2) as they embark on a five-game
trip. The Trail Blazers, without Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins and Pau Gasol, have yet to win at home (0-2) and will be playing the second night of a back-to-back, having fought valiantly but come up short in a 107-101 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night.
LAKERS VS HEAT
Venue: Staples Center | Start: 2:30pm AEDT
LeBron James and Anthony Davis have formed a quick bond that has carried the Los Angeles Lakers to six consecutive victories as they prepare to play host to the Miami Heat on Friday. But the surprise bonus for the top team in the Western Conference has been the rebirth of big man Dwight Howard. In seven games off the bench, Howard has supplied 7.9 rebounds in 21.7 minutes, with those numbers up to 9.0 and 24.0 respectively in three November games. He has a pair of double-doubles with the most recent coming Sunday in a victory over the San Antonio Spurs. The Heat will enter off a 124-108 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday. They started their current three-game Western Conference swing with a 109-89 defeat at Denver on Tuesday that looked nothing like their 129-100 victory over the Houston Rockets two days prior when they led 46-14 after one quarter. Jimmy Butler had his best game with the Heat thus far, scoring 34 points Thursday on 11 of 16 shooting, with 30 of those points coming before halftime. Not only did Justise Winslow miss the game with a headache, Udonis Haslem and Dion Waiters were out with stomach issues as Miami played with 11 players.