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New York Knicks v Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers aim to open the season with their fourth straight victory when they host the New York Knicks on Tuesday night. Cleveland’s 3-0 start is its best since winning the first six games of the 2016-17 campaign. The Cavaliers routed the Philadelphia 76ers 118-94 on Sunday with Andre Drummond contributing 22 points and 14 rebounds for his third straight double-double. Cleveland’s defense was stout as it had 13 steals, six blocked shots and forced 21 turnovers. Kevin Love (calf) was injured and will miss the game against the Knicks. Rookie Isaac Okoro (foot) will sit out his second consecutive contest. The Knicks are opening a four-game road trip and figure to have ample confidence after whipping the Milwaukee Bucks 130-110 on Sunday night. Julius Randle produced 29 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists while Elfrid Payton scored 27 points on 12-of-16 shooting. New York was a stellar 16 of 27 from 3-point range and neither Frank Ntilikina (4 of 4) nor Payton (3 of 3) missed from long range, while Alec Burns drained 4 of 5. Rookie Obi Toppin (calf) and fourth-year pro Dennis Smith Jr. (quadriceps) will each miss their third straight games. The Knicks have won the past three meetings after losing the previous four.
Golden State Warriors v Detroit Pistons
The Warriors will look to salvage the best of what appeared to be a bad situation when they wrap up a season-opening, four-game trip Tuesday in Detroit. The Warriors rank last in the NBA in scoring defense, allowing 130.3 points per game, but they overcame that by pouring in a season-high 129 in a one-point win at Chicago on Sunday. Damion Lee’s 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining helped Golden State end a two-game losing streak. Three keys to the win: a 54-51 scoring advantage on 3-pointers (they were outscored 105-60 in the first two games), limiting the Bulls to seven offensive rebounds (opponents had averaged 12 in first two games), and recording 17 steals (they had 11 combined in the first two games). While Draymond Green (strained foot) remains out for the Warriors, the Pistons (0-3) expect Blake Griffin (20.5 points per game) and Derrick Rose (14.0) to be fresh and available for Tuesday’s game after resting during Monday’s 128-120 loss at Atlanta. In their absence, newcomers Jerami Grant and Josh Jackson scored 27 points apiece. The Pistons won at Golden State in the teams’ only meeting last season. The Warriors have not won at Detroit since December of 2017.
Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers aim to remain undefeated under new coach Nate Bjorkgren and complete a sweep of their back-to-back set against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday when the teams reconvene in Indianapolis. Malcolm Brogdon scored 25 points and Domantas Sabonis converted the go-ahead layup with 8.4 seconds remaining in the Pacers’ 108-107 victory over Boston on Sunday. Sabonis has recorded three straight double-doubles to begin the season after setting the NBA franchise record with 50 in 2019-20. The center/power forward had 28 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in his final game of the 2019-20 season, 114-111 win by the Celtics. Victor Oladipo is available for Tuesday’s contest after sitting out Sunday for injury management related to the surgically repaired quad tendon in his right knee. Boston’s Jayson Tatum stuffed the stat sheet by collecting 25 points, 11 rebounds and five assists Sunday, however he openly lamented his decision to settle for a long 3-point attempt in the closing seconds as opposed to potentially opening up the defense on a drive. Jaylen Brown had 18 points after he averaged 30 points in his previous two contests for the Celtics, who have lost two in a row.
Toronto Raptors v Philadelphia 76ers
The host Philadelphia 76ers will aim to get back on track Tuesday as they play host to the Toronto Raptors. With Joel Embiid a late scratch due to back tightness, Philadelphia lumbered to a 118-94 loss at Cleveland on Sunday after starting the season with a pair of victories. Tobias Harris contributed 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists against the Cavaliers, but ball control ultimately doomed the 76ers, who committed 21 turnovers, including six by Ben Simmons. The Raptors will be well-rested as they seek their first victory of the season. Toronto is coming off Saturday’s 119-114 loss at San Antonio. Although six players scored in double figures — led by Fred VanVleet’s 27 points and Chris Boucher’s 22 — the Raptors missed on some opportunities to close the game out in crunch time. Kyle Lowry notched 16 points with 10 assists and has posted a double-double in both of Toronto’s games. Tuesday continues a stretch in which the Raptors will play seven of nine on the road. Toronto defeated Philadelphia in three of four meetings last season, but the 76ers prevailed in the teams’ lone game at Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia’s last loss in its own building was Dec. 20, 2019.
Chicago Bulls v Washington Wizards
The winless Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards will try for their first win of the season when they meet Tuesday night in Washington D.C. Chicago is looking to bounce back from a gut-wrenching loss against the Golden State Warriors. The Bulls led by two points in the final seconds, only to fall short on a 3-pointer by the Warriors’ Damion Lee. Washington hopes to bounce back from back-to-back home losses against the Orlando Magic. Zach LaVine leads the Bulls with 24 points per game, while Bradley Beal has been the Wizards’ best player with 33 points per contest. Both teams could be without key players as Rui Hachimura (illness) is expected to miss another game for the Wizards and Lauri Markkanen (calf) is listed as questionable for the Bulls. Markkanen has been the Bulls’ second-leading scorer with 20 points per game. First-year Bulls coach Billy Donovan and fifth-year Wizards coach Scott Brooks each have emphasized the need for their players to be patient despite a shaky start to the 2020-21 campaign. The teams met four times last season, with the Bulls winning three of those contests. They split two games on the Wizards’ home court, and the Bulls won both games on their home court.
Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat
The Milwaukee Bucks get some early rematches with the team that ended their season in September when they visit the Miami Heat for back-to-back games on Tuesday and Wednesday. Milwaukee was held to 43.9 percent shooting in the five-game Eastern Conference semifinal stunner and 32.7 percent on 3-pointers. Giannis Antetokounmpo managed just 21.8 points per game before an ankle injury kept him out of Game 5. Perhaps even more shocking was the Bucks’ performance in a 130-110 shellacking at New York on Sunday. Again, poor 3-point shooting was a key factor, as Milwaukee made just 7 of 38 (18.4 percent), with Antetokounmpo (1 of 5), Khris Middleton (1 of 6) and Jrue Holiday (0 of 4) combining to go 2 of 15. The Heat have not played since Friday when they won 111-98 at home over New Orleans despite losing Jimmy Butler to right-ankle soreness. Butler is considered doubtful for Tuesday’s game. One player who took up the slack in Friday’s victory was Duncan Robinson, whose seven 3-pointers tied an all-time NBA Christmas Day record. Robinson shot 12 of 34 on 3-pointers in last year’s playoff series, helping the Heat outscore the Bucks 225-162 from beyond the arc over the five games.
Orlando Magic v Oklahoma City Thunder
The Orlando Magic will shoot for the first 4-0 start in franchise history when they visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday. Orlando will be playing for the third time in four days but did enjoy Monday off after sweeping Washington 130-120 and 120-113 on the road over the weekend. With a season-opening home win over the Miami Heat, the Magic are 3-0 for the first time since 2010. At least five Orlando players have scored in double figures in all three games. Markelle Fultz and Terrence Ross have done so in every game and have increased their point total in each. Fultz went from 15 points to 21 to 26, while Ross from 19 to 25 to 26. The Thunder will be playing the second night of a back-to-back, losing 110-109 to the Utah Jazz on Monday when Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could not connect on a driving layup just before the final buzzer. Both Oklahoma City games so far have been nail-biters. Gilgeous-Alexander provided the difference in a season-opening 109-107 win at Charlotte with a last-second jumper. The Thunder, who have won five straight against the Magic, have dominated the matchup in recent years winning 10 of the last 12.
New Orleans Pelicans v Phoenix Suns
Off to solid starts, the New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns will now put each other to the test in a matchup Tuesday at Phoenix. Both teams are 2-1 and will enter off victories. The Suns just gave the NBA’s new single-city back-to-back scheduling plan a whirl, earning a 116-100 victory at Sacramento on Sunday after losing in the California capital on Saturday. The Suns’ new guard combination of Devin Booker (22.7 points per game) and Chris Paul (12.7 points, 9.7 assists) have been an effective pairing. Phoenix also is getting production from young forwards Mikal Bridges (16.3 points) and Cameron Johnson (14.7 points). Bridges led the team with 22 points in Sunday’s victory, while Johnson had 21. The Pelicans are powered by a pair of forwards in Brandon Ingram (26.7 points) and Zion Williamson (21.7 points, 11.7 rebounds). New Orleans earned a 98-95 victory at home over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday despite shooting just 38.3 percent (36 of 94) from the floor and 20.8 percent (5 of 24) from 3-point range. They were helped by a 56-47 rebounding advantage while forcing 15 Spurs turnovers in a game new Pelicans head coach Stan Van Gundy lauded for the team’s ability to win ugly.
Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers play host to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday in the very building where both teams were crushed by different teams Sunday. The Clippers were blasted 124-75 by the Dallas Mavericks at Staples Center in the afternoon before the Timberwolves were crushed 127-91 by the Los Angeles Lakers in the same venue that night. The Clippers faced the Mavericks without Kawhi Leonard, who needed eight stitches after he took an elbow to the mouth from teammate Serge Ibaka in a Christmas Day victory at Denver. His status for Tuesday’s game remains up in the air. The Clippers shot just 34.2 percent from the field and 12.1 percent from 3-point range without their floor leader. The Timberwolves also were without an All-Star on Sunday as big man Karl-Anthony Towns missed the game after dislocating his wrist in a victory at Utah on Saturday. He is not expected to play Tuesday. Only three Minnesota players scored in double figures in the defeat, led by rookie Anthony Edwards, who had 15 points. The No. 1 overall draft pick has averaged 16.0 points in 25.3 minutes over his first three NBA games. The Clippers and Timberwolves both started the season 2-0 before their embarrassing defeats.
Denver Nuggets v Sacramento Kings
The Denver Nuggets will look to deliver some payback when they visit the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night. The teams opened the season against one another last Wednesday and Sacramento notched a dramatic 124-122 overtime victory. The game-ending sequence included Harrison Barnes coming up with a steal and Buddy Hield tipping in Barnes’ miss for the winning points as time expired. Denver picked up its first win of the season in three games on Monday with a 124-111 home win over the Houston Rockets. Nikola Jokic recorded a career-best 18 assists to go with 19 points and 12 rebounds for his second triple-double of the season. It is the 43rd of his career, tying him for ninth place on the all-time list with former Nuggets star Fat Lever. Jamal Murray scored 21 points, a much better showing than his five points on 1-of-9 shooting in the opener against the Kings. Sacramento won its first two games before falling 116-100 to the visiting Phoenix Suns on Sunday. First-round pick Tyrese Haliburton had 15 points and six assists off the bench versus the Suns for his second double-digit outing. He scored 12 in the opener, just Sacramento’s third win in the past 13 meetings against Denver.