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NBA Game Previews 11/4

Well, everyone should be watching the Celtics game early, but there is a ton of NBA action to fill up the rest of your Sunday. After we roll over the Raptors check out the out of market stuff on League Pass while it's still free. Good TV! On to the games.

Be sure to check out the games thread.

All Times Pacific, but plus 3 hours.

Seattle at LA Clippers 3:30pm
The young guns of Seattle will get another shot at a bad team regarding perimeter defense tonight, and LA (the other team) will get a shot at a team that is clearly "not ready for prime time". Seattle hung tough with both the Suns and the Nuggets until the fourth, and Chris Wilcox is asserting himself as a talented scorer off of the block. Kevin Durant also looked more comfortable in his second game with the Sonics, so look for him to be even better tonight. Also, some of the generic first round bigs from Seattle are starting to show some promise in Johan Petro.
Player to watch: Chris Wilcox- Wilcox has established himself as the Sonics go to scoring threat in the post. He's not very fancy, but his face up game isn't bad, he gets a lot of baskets by hustling in transition, and he has this awkward looking kind of hook shot type thing that he shoots from his left shoulder that consistently goes in. Well, no matter how he does it, he's a double double guareanteed lately.

Charlotte at Miami 6:00pm
The Bobcats are a flawed team. They've got too many problems upfront, nobody besides Emeka Okafor that is taller than 6'8 and of starter quality. They're relying on an (til now) inconsistent young point and an unproven lead scorer in Jason Richardson. That aside, I think they're a good, flawed team. How good will remain to be seen, but watch them carefully. Raymond Felton played beautifully in the seaosn opener, Jason Richardson seems to be hungry this season, and Gerald Wallace to me is one of the most underrated guys in the NBA. They will give Miami some serious issues at the wing, as Ricky Davis is no defensive stalwart. The two talented wings from Charlotte should have no issues scoring against the heat today, and the battle at the point should be more of a scuffle, with Felton winning out. Also, with Udonis Haslem starting for the Heat, Walter Hermann will get the chance to play more than 12 minutes today, and with him playing big minutes the Bobcats are a better team. The Heat didn't show me anything of consequence in their loss against the Pacers, and I while understand that they have started slow in recent years, I'm very skeptical of their actual ability. Charlotte wins early season matchup within their division, but watch them all year, I think you'll be impressed.
Player to watch: Raymond Felton-This kid is for real, he's a legit starting point in the NBA, and he went off for 26 points and 12 assisted against the Bucks in the opener as well as 3-5 shooting from the three point line. He'll eat up Jason Williams or Daquan Cook (who played well in this season opener).

Minnesota at NY Knicks 6:00pm (Blackout for MSG in NY)
This is a game I will absolutely be watching. Great matchup for Celtics fan, because Sebastian Telfair usually plays better when he plays his cousin Stephan Marbury, and no matter how much you hated the Portland trade, we all rooted for Bassy at one point. Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry shouldn't be able to hold up Al Jefferson much, and we'll be able to wholeheartedly root for the mini-Celts because every loss by the other teams in the Atlantic makes our goal of winning the division a little easier. Rashad McCants played well against Denver, and look for him to do it again. Surprisingly, Theo Ratliff played 30 minutes against the Nuggest, so expect him to give Eddy Curry some problems in the paint. I'm picking the Bizzaro-Celtics to win
Player to watch: Al Jefferson-The former prince of Boston brings his quality low post game to the Big Apple, whats not to like?

Atlanta at Detroit 7:30pm
The Hawks are coming off a huge upset win against the Dallas Mavericks, but I don't think they can do it again. In their win against Dallas, the Mavs went 4-24 from three point land. Detroit is much more disciplined, and won't live and die with the three point shot, and their forwards won't be shoved around. The Hawks may very well be for real, but I don't think they're going to start a winning streak today.
Player to watch: Josh Smith-Smith went 0-5 from behind the 3 pt line, shot just over 30% from the field, and still managed to end up with 18 points. He also added 4 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. He's just fun to watch.

New Orleans at Denver 8:00pm
Both of these teams are unbeaten, and neither team has actually played a decent squad yet. New Orleans won over Sacramento and Portland, Denver won over Minnesota and Seattle, ao tonight will be the first time either team faces a playoff team from last year. Chris Paul's play has been stellar up until this point, and that will continue tonight, with Allen Iverson lacking the on ball skills to slow down CP3. Both teams stack up pretty evenly in the frontcourt (Tyson Chandler is basically like a less effective Marcus Camby), but there is a pretty big disparity on the wing. Peja Stojakovic is a great shooter, and somewhat of a crafty scorer, but Carmelo Anthony is going to score with ease anytime Peja is alone with him, and Stojakovic won't be quite so lucky (although Melo is no defensive dynamo) on the other end of the court. Denver to win.
Player to watch: Linus Kleiza, Von Wafer, JR Smith, Yakhouba Diawara-Diawara was benched at halftime in the win against Minnesota, due mostly to his absolutely abysmal offensive game. Who will solve Denver's big problem? JR Smith is probably the most talented, Linus Kleiza the best pro, Von Wafer the farthest away but a very possible long term solution. All of these guys are talented in their own right, but flawed. I think Kleiza will get more minutes tonight, because Morris Peterson isn't exactly lightening quick, and Kleiza was very good in Denver's opener.

Cleveland at Phoenix 8:00pm
When you watch Cleveland games, you need to repeatedly remind yourself that those other guys are real, talented NBA players too. Seriously, they are. Its not just Lebron James against the world here. That said, Phoenix just got absolutely blown out by the Lakers, and that can't sit well with Mike D'Antoni and Steve Nash. Look for Steve Nash and the "good soldiers"(more on that later) in the clubhouse to be fired up and ready to run. Cleveland shouldn't be able to keep up, and Shawn Marion should be able to keep Lebron to less than 40 points a half. Phoenix to win.
Player to watch: Amare Stoudamire-What is the world is up with this kid? Its like he doesn't even want to play, like he doesn't care. Did you see him play in the Laker's game? He was listless, passsionless, just utterly worthless out there. Is he hurt? If that's the case, then I'm being too hard on him, but otherwise if he's just acting like a spoiled brat for whatever arbitrary reason, then someone needs to get his head on straight, and quick. That Lakers game was just ridiculous, he only played 24 minutes, and I don't know if I'm the only one who thought this but it honestly looked like he purposefully picked up fouls to keep himself on the bench.

Utah at LA Lakers 9:30pm
To be completely honest, I have no idea what to expect from Los Angeles at this point. They rely exclusively on Kobe Bryant for one game, the second unit carries them the next. Vladomir Radmonovic goes from DNP to scoring revelation. This Lakers team is just as likely to lose by 40 as it is to win by 15. The good thing however is that this Jazz team is remarkably consistent. Expect Deron Williams, Mehmer Okur and Carlos Boozer to dominate their respective match-ups, and expect Kobe to score a lot as long as the game is close, but expect the Jazz to win.
Player to watch: Ronny Turiaf-Besides the fact that this is one of the biggest feel good stories in basketball today, Turiaf has had moments of intensity that even KG would balk at. This guy is all energy, and he's got the size and the skill to be a fantastic pro. He's one of those guys that you're just waiting to go off for 20 and 10 2 nights in a row, kind of like Big Al last season. He's getting the chance now, he's got the starting spot as of last game, but whether or not he will retain that, who knows? This Lakers team is all over the board.

That will just about do it for me, hope everyone had a fantastic weekend, and make sure to check out the games thread to see whats going on during the other games!

Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow.  

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