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Atlanta Hawks v Memphis Grizzlies
The Atlanta Hawks came out on fire in their opening 124-104 win at Chicago, scoring 42 points in the first quarter and 41 in the second. The 83-point half was a franchise record in the Atlanta era. Hawks starters all scored in double figures against the Bulls, shooting a combined 31-for-45 (68.9 percent). Trae Young went 10-for-12 from the field, 5-for-6 on 3-pointers and 12-for-14 at the line en route to 37 points, setting an NBA record for fewest field-goal attempts (12) in a 37 (or higher)-point game. Young averaged 17.5 points in two head-to-heads with Ja Morant last season, but was harassed into 9-for-33 shooting and 1-for-14 on 3-pointers. The Grizzlies were outscored 25-11 at the free throw line to more than account for the margin of defeat in their 131-119 season-opening loss to San Antonio. Morant scored a game-high 44 points in the loss. Despite missing Jaren Jackson Jr. (knee surgery), the Grizzlies scored 66 points in the paint against the Spurs. Memphis dominated its two matchups with Atlanta last season, winning by an average of 28.0 points in games played just five days apart. Morant got the better of Young in their matchups, shooting 14-for-22 overall and 4-for-4 on 3-pointers en route to an 18.5-point average.
Cleveland Cavaliers v Detroit Pistons
The Cleveland Cavaliers look to continue their strong start to the season on Saturday when they visit the Detroit Pistons. The Cavaliers, who finished an Eastern Conference-worst 19-46 last season, got off on the right foot Wednesday with a 121-114 victory over Charlotte in the opener for both teams. Collin Sexton and Darius Garland combined for 49 points on 16-of-29 shooting — including 7-of-12 from 3-point range — and had 11 assists versus four turnovers against the Hornets. Sexton, who had 27 points on Wednesday, averaged 21.0 in four games against Detroit last season. Andre Drummond, who had 14 points and 14 rebounds in the opener, will receive his first look at the franchise with which he spent parts of his first eight NBA seasons. The Pistons look for a full performance on Saturday after sputtering in the fourth quarter of their 111-101 setback at Minnesota in their season opener. Josh Jackson had 19 points and Derrick Rose added 15 for Detroit, which was outscored 31-16 in the final stanza. Six-time All-Star Blake Griffin also had 15 points in his debut after being limited to 18 games last season due to a knee injury. The road team won all four meetings last season.
Orlando Magic v Washington Wizards
The Orlando Magic and host Washington Wizards will get better acquainted this weekend when they meet on both Saturday and Sunday. The Magic had their way with the Wizards in 2019-20, scoring at least 120 points in all four games en route to recording a season sweep. Evan Fournier scored 25 points and Nikola Vucevic had 15 points and 11 rebounds to lead Orlando to a season-opening 113-107 victory over Miami on Wednesday. Fournier and Vucevic starred versus Washington, with the former averaging 23.3 points while the latter had a season high-tying 30 points in a 125-121 win on Nov. 17 and 29 more in a 123-89 victory on Jan. 8. Bradley Beal did his best to help the Wizards keep pace, averaging 34.3 points in three meetings with the Magic. Beal had 31 points in Washington’s 113-107 season-opening loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday. Russell Westbrook became the first player in franchise history to notch a triple-double in his debut for the Wizards after collecting 21 points, 15 assists and 11 rebounds. Davis Bertans added 14 points off the bench versus the 76ers. He made four 3-pointers to highlight a 21-point performance in Washington’s 127-120 setback versus Orlando on Dec. 3.
Philadelphia 76ers v New York Knicks
The Philadelphia 76ers aim to put last season’s road woes in their rearview mirror on Saturday when they visit the New York Knicks. The 76ers countered a sterling 29-2 record in Philadelphia with a dismal 10-24 road mark, excluding games in the Orlando-area bubble. Philadelphia, however, has had little issue of late with New York regardless of venue. The 76ers swept last season’s four matchups and have won 12 straight encounters. Philadelphia got off on the right foot Wednesday as Joel Embiid collected 29 points and 14 rebounds in a 113-107 victory over the visiting Washington Wizards. Embiid averaged 25 points and 14.5 rebounds in two meetings with the Knicks last season. Shake Milton added 19 points off the bench in the win over the Wizards and Ben Simmons had 16 points and nine rebounds. The Knicks opened with a loss Wednesday, dropping a 121-107 decision to the host Indiana Pacers. RJ Barrett had 26 points on 11-of-15 shooting from the field, and he grabbed eight rebounds. Alec Burks added 22 points. Obi Toppin, who was the eighth overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, was limited to nine points on 3-of-12 shooting in his first game. New Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau will make his home debut Saturday.
Indiana Pacers v Chicago Bulls
A pair of new head coaches will head into their second games when the Indiana Pacers hit the road Saturday to face the Chicago Bulls. New Pacers boss Nate Bjorkgren won his debut Wednesday, a 121-107 victory over the host New York Knicks. Indiana guard Victor Oladipo, who played just 55 total games the previous two seasons because of a ruptured quadriceps tendon, scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half to help seal the victory. Pacers forward Domantas Sabonis flourished with 32 points on 11-of-18 shooting, and Malcolm Brogdon added 21. Chicago played for the first time Wednesday under new head coach Billy Donovan, but it was more of the same for a team that has not been in the playoffs since 2017. The Bulls fell 124-104 at home to the Atlanta Hawks. Zach LaVine scored 22 points and Lauri Markkanen had 21. The bright spot was 19-year-old rookie Patrick Williams, who scored 16 in his NBA debut. Chicago’s defense remains a work in progress, as it gave up 42 points in the first quarter to the Hawks and 83 in the first half. The Pacers went 4-0 against the Bulls last season.
Toronto Raptors v San Antonio Spurs
In their first season as a United States-based team, the Toronto Raptors will hit the road for the first time when they face the San Antonio Spurs on Saturday. The Raptors, who are playing home games at Tampa, Fla., for the time being, were thumped 113-99 by the visiting New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday. The temporary move south of the border was necessitated because of travel restrictions into Canada. Toronto’s Pascal Siakam had 20 points and Kyle Lowry added 18 points and 10 assists against New Orleans. The Raptors led by as many as 11 points before the Pelicans had a 38-point third quarter. Expectations for the Spurs are tempered this season, but San Antonio rose up and defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 131-119 on the road Wednesday in its opener. Coach Gregg Popovich has implemented a faster pace, similar to what he used in the NBA bubble late last season, and it was a hit. DeMar DeRozan had 28 points, nine assists and nine rebounds, and Dejounte Murray scored 21 points. Seven Spurs finished in double figures, with LaMarcus Aldridge adding 20. The Spurs scored at least 30 points in every quarter, shot 50.5 percent from the field and hit 40 percent from 3-point range.
Minnesota Timberwolves v Utah Jazz
The Minnesota Timberwolves look to begin a three-game road trip on a good note when they face the Utah Jazz on Saturday. Minnesota posted an 111-101 victory over the visiting Detroit Pistons on Wednesday in a contest that marked star center Karl-Anthony Towns’ first regular-season game since his mother died of complications from the coronavirus in April. Towns recorded 22 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists against the Pistons. Mailk Beasley scored a team-high 23 points while D’Angelo Russell added 18 off the bench. Also contributing well as a reserve was No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Edwards, who scored 15 points in 25 minutes in his NBA debut. Utah opened with an impressive 120-100 road win over the Portland Trail Blazers. The Jazz knocked down 19 3-pointers while Rudy Gobert cleaned up in the interior with 20 points and 17 rebounds. The defense also smothered Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard, holding him to nine points. Donovan Mitchell, who also scored 20 points, was one of three Utah players to knock down four 3-pointers. Mike Conley (18 points) and Bojan Bogdanovic (15) also made four treys. The Jazz went 2-1 against the Timberwolves last season and have prevailed in five of the past six meetings.
Houston Rockets v Portland Trail Blazers
The Houston Rockets are expected to have nine available players Saturday when they make a second attempt at opening their season, this time against the host Portland Trail Blazers. The Rockets’ opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed Wednesday when the team didn’t have the league-mandated eight available players. This time, they have enough to play despite Kenyon Martin Jr. and Ben McLemore staying home following positive COVID-19 tests and John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Gordon and Mason Jones sitting out because of contact tracing. Star James Harden, who violated league protocols, finished his four-day quarantine on Friday and is slated to play. The Trail Blazers will be aiming to bounce back from a 120-100 home loss against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. Damian Lillard was dreadful with nine points on 4-of-12 shooting, making just 1 of 7 from 3-point range. Backcourt mate CJ McCollum scored a team-best 23 points while Carmelo Anthony (15 points) and Enes Kanter (14 of 7-of-7 shooting) were solid off the bench. Portland went 3-1 against the Rockets last season and have prevailed in five of the past seven meetings. Harden averaged just 22.5 points and shot 39.4 percent from the field vs. Portland last season while Lillard averaged 23.8 points against Houston.
Phoenix Suns v Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings and Phoenix Suns are both vying for a 2-0 start when they meet Saturday in the first of back-to-back games in California’s capital city. The Kings, who are trying to halt a 14-season playoff drought, recorded a dramatic 124-122 overtime win over the host Denver Nuggets in their Wednesday opener. Harrison Barnes’ steal set up the decisive sequence, and Buddy Hield’s tip-in at the buzzer gave Sacramento the victory. Hield made five 3-pointers en route to a team-best 22 points while Barnes and De’Aaron Fox added 21 points apiece. First-round draft pick Tyrese Haliburton had 12 points and four assists in 30 minutes off the Sacramento bench during his NBA debut. Phoenix opened with a 106-102 home win over the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. Chris Paul, who was acquired from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason, had a quiet debut with eight points on 3-of-9 shooting in 28 minutes. The 10-time All-Star also had five assists while committing three turnovers. Devin Booker led the Suns with 22 points while Mikal Bridges added 18. Phoenix also has a lengthy playoff absence it would like to end — the club has missed the postseason for 11 straight campaigns. The teams split four meetings last season.