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Monday, November 11, 2019
TIMBERWOLVES VS NUGGETS
Venue: Target Center | Start: 7:30am AEDT
It’ll be Nikola Jokic vs. Karl-Anthony Towns on center stage, but you have to wonder if that’s where the fireworks will emanate when the Denver Nuggets visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday afternoon. The Timberwolves are coming off a 125-119 overtime home win over Golden State in which they were able to overcome D’Angelo Russell’s career-best, 52-point performance, in large part by getting 40 from Andrew Wiggins. Towns chipped in with 20 points and 14 rebounds. The 50-point explosion was the second by a guard this season against Minnesota, with Kyrie Irving having scorched the Timberwolves for 50 on Opening Night. Denver’s Jamal Murray has given no indication yet this season that he’ll add a third opponent to that list, but he has gone over 20 points in three straight games (all wins) and does have 48- and 46-point performances on record. Murray also has a pair of 30-point games in his career against the Timberwolves, one of which came last March. As for the Jokic-Towns duel: Advantage, Towns. In 15 career head-to-heads, he’s put up a triple-double and 11 double-doubles, while Jokic has gone for one triple-double and six double-doubles. In terms of wins: Jokic 9, Towns 6.
76ERS VS HORNETS
Venue: Wells Fargo Center | Start: 10:00am AEDT
The Philadelphia 76ers will try to end a three-game losing streak when they host the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday evening. Philadelphia won its first five games and was the last undefeated team in the NBA, but things quickly went sideways with losses on the road to the Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets. A return home could be exactly what the doctor ordered for the 76ers, who are 2-0 in the City of Brotherly Love so far this season. One player who will look to get going is veteran guard Josh Richardson, who is shooting only 40.2 percent from the field and 25.7 percent from 3-point range. Charlotte will play on short rest after losing 115-110 to the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night. Devonte’ Graham led the Hornets with 24 points and 10 assists off the bench, but his efforts could not stop New Orleans from posting a 10-point advantage in the fourth quarter in the comeback victory. This is the first meeting between the teams since March 19, when Philadelphia held on for 118-114 win. The Hornets are 2-2 on the road this season.
MAGIC VS PACERS
Venue: Amway Center | Start: 10:00am AEDT
Two teams that have struggled to open the season didn’t look like their former selves Friday. Now the goal is to continue that impressive new form when the visiting Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic meet Sunday night. The Pacers got key contributions from replacement starters JaKarr Sampson and Aaron Holiday in a 112-106 home win over Detroit on Friday, managing an impressive point total despite going without two of their big guns, Myles Turner and Jeremy Lamb. The Magic didn’t make changes in Friday’s 118-86 home blowout of Memphis, but kept pushing the same buttons, and they finally clicked for a season-best output. Seeking just their second road win of the season, the Pacers return to a site of much recent success, as they’ve won eight of their last nine at Orlando. That one loss, however, was in their most recent visit last January, triggering three straight Magic wins over the Pacers, including two late in the year at Indiana that allowed Orlando to steal the season series. The Pacers would like to get Turner back from his ankle injury; he’ll be a game-time decision. The Magic, meanwhile, hope their slow start (3-6) can be remedied on a five-game homestand that started with a promise against Memphis.
THUNDER VS BUCKS
Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena | Start: 11:00am AEDT
The Milwaukee Bucks finish off their four-game road trip with a contest against the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Sunday night. The game will mark the Bucks’ 7th road game in their first 10 games, and three of their next four will also be on the road. The Bucks are 2-1 on this current trip, their lone blemish a 103-100 loss to Utah on Friday night, and it took a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Bojan Bodganovic to do it. The Thunder (4-5) have come on of late, winning three of their past four, including a 114-108 over Golden State on Saturday night. Danilo Gallinari went for 21 points and Chris Paul posted 16 points, nine assists and five boards in the win. But the Bucks (6-3) pose a far more potent problem, mostly in the form of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who brings a 29.1/14.1/7.2 stat line to go with 1.3 steals per game, all team highs. He’s shooting 57.3 percent from the floor on the season. Khris Middleton is averaging 19.4 points per game, too. The Bucks are third in the league in team scoring at 119.8 points per game. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leads the Thunder with 22.0 points per game with Gallinari (18.9) and Paul (16.0) right behind.
KNICKS VS CAVALIERS
Venue: Madison Square Garden | Start: 11:30am AEDT
Either the Cleveland Cavaliers or New York Knicks will walk away with their first winning streak of the season when the two tangle Sunday night in NYC. It has been a struggle for both franchises thus far, the Cavs coming in at 3-5 and Knicks at 2-7. But both are coming off road victories on Friday night. The Cavaliers defeated the Washington Wizards by 13, and the Knicks procured an unlikely 106-102 victory over the Mavericks in Dallas for their first road win of the season, despite monster games from Luka Doncic and former Knicks superstar Kristaps Porzingis. Kevin Love has been Mr. Everything for the Cavs. The veteran forward is averaging a double-double, sporting an 18.5/14.1/3.9 line that leads the team in all three categories. Marcus Morris Sr. scored a season-high 29 points to help knock off the Mavs, and he leads the Knicks with 19.1 points per game. Seven Cavs scored at least 10 points against the Mavs. It’s the first of four meetings between the teams and they will play again in nine days, also at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks have lost 10 straight at home to the Cavs, who are playing the second of a three-game road trip.
SUNS VS NETS
Venue: Talking Stick Resort Arena | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
The Brooklyn Nets already have won back-to-back games for the first time this season. Now, they want to make it three in a row. They’ll have a chance to extend their winning streak when they visit the Phoenix Suns on Sunday evening. Brooklyn is averaging a whopping 120.8 points per game, which was tops in the NBA entering the weekend. The Nets have scored at least 108 points in each of their first eight games, and they are coming off wins of 135-125 over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night and 119-115 over the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night. Point guard Kyrie Irving has led the attack with 31.9 points per game on 46.8 percent shooting. He also is averaging 5.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists during his first season in Brooklyn. The Suns have their work cut out for them but enter the game with three wins in their last four contests. They entered the weekend ranked No. 7 in the league with 114.1 points per game. Shooting guard Devin Booker leads the way with 25.6 points per game, which is well ahead of his career average of 21.5 points. Phoenix is 3-2 at home, and Brooklyn is 1-2 on the road.
TRAIL BLAZERS VS HAWKS
Venue: Moda Center | Start: 1:00pm AEDT
The Atlanta Hawks will look to get their lengthy Western Conference road trip on track when they travel to Portland to face Damian Lillard and the Trail Blazers on Sunday. The Hawks are coming off a 121-109 defeat at home against a Sacramento Kings team that is starting to find some continuity. The Portland stop is No. 1 on a five-game journey that will come to a challenging conclusion next weekend in Los Angeles with back-to-back games against the Clippers and Lakers. Trae Young scored 16 of his 30 points in the third quarter Friday but the Hawks’ comeback attempt was thwarted. The Blazers are stuck in a four-game losing streak after falling 119-115 at home to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday. Lillard did score a career-best 60 points in the defeat as the Blazers have yet to win at home this season in three tries. Lillard’s scoring night set a franchise record and was the highest scoring game in the NBA so far this season. The night was “whatever” for Lillard, who added that it would have been much more fun in a victory. CJ McCollum made just two of his first 16 shots from the field and finished with eight points. He is shooting just 38.0 percent from the field.
LAKERS VS RAPTORS
Venue: Staples Center | Start: 1:30pm AEDT
The defending NBA champions will pay a visit to the top team in the Western Conference on Sunday when the Toronto Raptors face the Los Angeles Lakers. Without Kawhi Leonard, who departed in free agency, the Raptors have still opened with a 6-2 record and are coming off a pair of high-scoring victories when they averaged 123.0 points. Pascal Siakam has proven to be a worthy leading man with 27.9 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Kyle Lowry (21.8 ppg) will miss at least two weeks with a fractured thumb. Siakam scored 44 points with 10 rebounds in Friday’s 122-104 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Fred VanVleet had 11 assists Friday, his second double-digit assist game this season and third of his career. The Lakers are on a seven-game winning streak after losing their season opener to the Clippers. Los Angeles will enter off a 95-80 victory over the Miami Heat on Friday, the lowest output for a Lakers opponent this season. Anthony Davis scored 26 points for the Lakers on Friday and has scored at least 21 points in seven of eight games this season. The Lakers’ LeBron James saw his streak of three consecutive games with a triple-double come to an end Friday, but he did score 25 points.