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Tuesday, November 12, 2019
PISTONS VS TIMBERWOLVES
Venue: Little Caesars Arena | Start: 11:00am AEDT
Blake Griffin is expected to make his season debut when the Detroit Pistons host the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday night. The explosive power forward has missed the first 10 games because of hamstring and knee injuries. Griffin returns to a team that has lost six of its first 10 contests and could use a lift on both ends of the court. Andre Drummond has done his part with averages of 21.2 points and 18.0 rebounds per game, but the Pistons have turned to depth elsewhere because of injuries to Griffin, Reggie Jackson, Derrick Rose and others. Rose is questionable to return against the Timberwolves, his most recent former team, as he recuperates from a hamstring injury. He is averaging 20.8 points in six games off the bench this season. Minnesota will play on short rest after losing 100-98 in overtime against the Denver Nuggets on Sunday afternoon. Karl-Anthony Towns enjoyed another monster performance with 25 points, 16 rebounds and six assists, and his matchup against Drummond on Monday should be one to watch. The Timberwolves could have tired legs after reaching overtime in each of their past two contests. This is the first meeting between the teams since March 9 of last season, when Detroit sprinted to a 131-114 victory. The Pistons are 3-2 at home this season, and the Timberwolves are 3-2 on the road.
CELTICS VS MAVERICKS
Venue: TD Garden | Start: 11:30am AEDT
The Boston Celtics will go for their eighth win in a row when they host the Dallas Mavericks on Monday night. Boston is coming off a perfect three-game road trip in which it knocked off the Cleveland Cavaliers, Charlotte Hornets and San Antonio Spurs in a five-day span. The Celtics now return home, where they are 3-0 this season, for a quick two-game set before heading out on the road for five more games. Boston will be without veteran forward Gordon Hayward, who left Saturday’s game against San Antonio with what was later determined to be a broken left hand. Hayward ranks third on the team this season with 18.9 points per game to go along with 7.1 rebounds and 4.1 assists per contest. Although Boston will lack a top threat, it still has plenty of firepower with leading scorer Kemba Walker (24.5 points per game), young perimeter player Jayson Tatum (21.3), small forward Jaylen Brown (18.8) and others. Dallas is no slouch, either, with three wins in its last four games and six wins in nine games to start the season. Luka Doncic is a phenomenal talent with 27.7 points, 10.8 rebounds and 9.1 assists per game, while Kristaps Porzingis is not far behind with 20.1 points per game to go along with 8.3 rebounds.
PELICANS VS ROCKETS
Venue: Smoothie King Center | Start: 12:00pm AEDT
Two of the league’s most prolific offenses and impotent defenses square off again Monday night when the Houston Rockets travel to New Orleans to play the Pelicans. The Rockets took the first meeting 126-123 in Houston on Oct. 26. The Rockets own the NBA’s No. 2 offense scoring and sixth-worst scoring defense; the Pelicans have the league’s fifth-best scoring offense and worst scoring defense. The Rockets come in at 6-3, riding a three-game winning streak. They held their first team under 100 points Saturday night, destroying the Chicago Bulls 117-94. Whether the Rockets bring that same aggressiveness against the Pels remains to be seen, but they’re sure to bring their vaunted offense, led by James Harden (37.1 points per game) and Russell Westbrook (21.4). The Pelicans (2-7) are coming off a win but have lost three of their past four. Despite 26 turnovers, the Pelicans knocked off the Charlotte Hornets 115-110 on Saturday night. Brandon Ingram powers the Pelicans’ offense, scoring 25.9 points per game. Ingram had a monster game in the first meeting, dropping an efficient 35 points to go with 15 rebounds and five assists. Harden-Westbrook went for 29-28 in that one, despite Harden making just 2 of 18 from the 3-point line.
SPURS VS GRIZZLIES
Venue: AT&T Center | Start: 11:30am AEDT
A pair of teams looking for some extended success will meet Monday when the Memphis Grizzlies travel to San Antonio to face the Spurs. The Spurs will enter on a stretch of three defeats in their last four games, although two were to the top two teams in the NBA: the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. Most concerning about Saturday’s home loss to the Celtics was that the Spurs gave up 135 points. Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich called the defeat both “unaggressive” and “unphysical.” DeMar DeRozan has scored 20.2 points per game, but that number is down to 17.4 over his last five contests. The Grizzlies will enter on a run of five defeats over their last six games, the most recent being a 138-122 stumble against the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday that also revealed some defensive issues. The Grizzlies played the game without rookie and leading scorer Ja Morant, who was given a night of rest. Morant has scored 18.9 points per game, although he was held to eight on 3 of 13 shooting in a loss Friday to the Orlando Magic. Rookie Brandon Clarke also missed Saturday’s game with a sore back.
CLIPPERS VS RAPTORS
Venue: Staples Center | Start: 2:30pm AEDT
Kawhi Leonard’s new team still is trying to assess itself and Monday’s matchup against his old team should be telling. The Los Angeles Clippers will play host to the NBA champion Toronto Raptors following a 107-101 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday. Leonard scored 27 points in that one after skipping Wednesday’s loss to the Milwaukee Bucks as part of his load management program. He has scored 29.0 points per game with 8.1 rebounds. He had 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds for the raptors last season. The Clippers’ other newcomer, Paul George (shoulder), is getting close to his season debut but will not play Monday. Clippers head coach Doc Rivers is coming off his 900th career victory. The Raptors will give Staples Center another try after ending the Los Angeles Lakers’ seven-game winning streak there Sunday night. Pascal Siakam had 24 points while Fred VanVleet added 23. The Raptors won their third consecutive game and came out on top for the sixth time in their last seven games. The last time Leonard played against the Raptors he was a member of the San Antonio Spurs in January of 2017. In nine career games against the Raptors, Leonard has scored 14.4 points per game.
WARRIORS VS JAZZ
Venue: Chase Center | Start: 2:30pm AEDT
One team hasn’t been good on the road. The other has struggled at home. Something will have to give when the Utah Jazz visit the Golden State Warriors on Monday night. There’s certainly reason for optimism on both ends. The Jazz, just 1-3 on the road, are coming off two momentum-building wins — albeit at home — against Philadelphia and Milwaukee. The Warriors have lost their last two games, but were competitive on the road in each (at Minnesota and Oklahoma City), demonstrating their home win over Portland on Nov. 4 might not have been a fluke. Alas, that was the Warriors’ only home win in five tries this season, and they were never a sure-thing against the Jazz in recent seasons (2-2 in their last four visits to the Bay Area) even while Golden State trotted Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green out to the court. That won’t be the case Monday, yet the Jazz feel compelled to arrive with increased firepower, having imported Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic in the offseason. Utah ranks near the bottom of the NBA in scoring (101.0 points per game), and the Warriors one of the worst in points allowed (121.1).