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NBA Game Previews, 11/6

Well tonight is a doozy, with 10 games scheduled for my little fingers have been busy. Without any Celtics action, no Pats game, and baseball over, I expect everyone to be watching all the action this evening. What, you need more incentive? Well, it has been brought to my attention (thanks AllabouttheGreen) that NBA League Pass is still 100% free! Thats right boys and very few girls, you get to OD on grade A premuim uncut basketball action one more time. 

Be sure to check out the Games Thread .

On to the games

All times BEASTERN, and all games on League Pass unless otherwise specified.

Here is the basic schedule, click the button below for the in-depth previews.

Phoenix at Charlotte 7:00pm
Atlanta at New Jersey 7:30pm (YES in NY)
Denver at NY Knicks 7:30pm (MSG in NY, Everywhere else its on NBATV)
Toronto at Milwaukee 8:00pm
Orlando at Minnesota 8:00pm
LA Clippers at Chicago 8:30pm
San Antonio at Houston 8:30pm
Seattle at Sacramento 10:00pm
Cleveland at Golden State 10:30pm
New Orleans at LA Lakers 10:30pm

To the previews...  

Phoenix at Charlotte 7pm
You guys probably think I'm crazy, but the Bobcats are for real. They're going to get the chance to show it against Phoenix, and I hope they do. This is a good game for matchups, and Charlotte's stregnth and size on the wings should help them out a lot.
Raymond Felton has been playing at a top tier level so far this season, the only huge flaw in his game being turnovers. He had top pg numbers against the Milwaukee Bucks (22 and 12) and followed that up with 19 and 7 against the Heat. Steve Nash's strong suit is not defense, so this ought to be a good matchup on both sides of the floor. Also, look for whoever is being guarded by Grant Hill to expose the nicest guy in basketball. Both Jason Richardson and Gerald Wallace are firmly capable of putting up 30 points, and I expect whichever one is guarded by basketball's elder statesman to try like heck to do it.
The Suns have been up and down this season, and the loss in Los Angeles was just ridiculous. However, we have since found out Amare Stoudamire has some knee problems and he is now day to day. Good news for the Bobcats, bad news for the Suns. More bad news, Steve Nash is averaging just under 6 turnovers through the first 3 games, and that is really bad news for the Suns. When Steve Nash is the team leader in points, and Boris Diaw led the team in assists with 6 in the loss against the Lakers, something tells me the Suns have yet to rise (sorry, bad joke).
Look for Amare to be limited or just to sit, Shawn Marion to have a big game, the score to be close, and the Bobcats to pull it out.
Player to watch: Emeka Okafor-With Amare Stoudamire being limited, it should be a virtual playground for Okafor. If ya can't beast on Boris Diaw and Brian Skinner, who can ya beast on?

Atlanta at New Jersey 7:30pm (YES in NY)
Go ahead and pick this winner in your mind right now, now be honest with yourself and check back at the end of the game for the winner. If you've watched the Hawks play at all this season, you know there is absolutely no predicting whats in store here. They beat the Mavericks in the 4th after trailing all game, they lost to the Pistons by 1 in the 4, after leading from the second quarter until that point. Only 2 things to me have been for sure with the Hawks: Joe Johnson will lead the team in scoring, and Josh Smith can't shoot 3's to save his life, but he'll test that theory at least once per game, and validate it once again.
New Jersey STILL has to be embarassed by the 42 point loss to Toronto (awesome, is anyone else relishing in the Nets' embarassment?) and while they beat Philadelphia, it wasn't a statement game that I personally think they may have needed and had the opportunity for with the 76ers. The Hawks are no creampuffs, they've shown that so far this season. Joe Johnson will be able to score on Vince Carter, and Vince should be able to fire back. Richard Jefferson should have a pretty hard time with Josh Smith, but Jason Kidd, predictably, is the key. Whoever the Hawks give the minutes to at the point (its been Tyronn Lue or Acie Law so far) won't be able to contain or even slow Jason Kidd down.
I'm picking the Nets to win here, but I don't feel good about it. The Hawks are tough and I have little confidence in the Nets, but I think they're good enough to not be embarassed by losing to a supposedly inferior team after being blown out by Toronto.
Player to watch: Jason Kidd-He's coming off of his 50th career triple double, so at least he got the message in the Raptors loss. Look for him to give 110% and 35-40 minutes of elite play against the Hawks.

Denver at NY Knicks 7:30pm (MSG in NY, NBATV everywhere else)
Denver is bringing the show to New York, and once again I get to root for an exciting team unabashedly because they're playing a (hated) division rival. The Knicks lost to the Cavaliers, beat the T-Wolves, and frankly thats how I expect their season to go. Sure once and a while they'll beat a better team, but not often.
Allen Iverson will be able to score often against Stephan Marbury, probably getting some steals too against the self proclaimed star. The two headed Kenyon Martin/Nene monster should put up 30 points combined against Zach Randolph (especially if Iverson and Karl decide to run), and Marcus Camby should be able to get his 10 against Eddy Curry. Carmelo Anthony will not have an easy day against Quentin Richardson, but even a mediocre day for Melo still consists of 24 points and 40% shooting.
New York has a matchup disadvantage at virtually every position, with the exception of Jamal Crawford. He'll be fine against Yakhouba Diawara, as Diawara's defense is more "okay" than stellar. He'll be even better when the Nuggets put anyone else at the 2. Other than that, things look bleak for New York. Eddy Curry will still be able to score on Camby, but it won't be a cake walk. Zach Randolph will still be effective agaisnt Nene and Martin, especially since he's very familiar with playing against them while Z-bo was on the Blazers. The problem is neither Curry or Randolph will make up for it on the other end, and its a 2 way game.
I'm expecting the Nuggets to give New York a show, and get out of this pretty easily with a win.
Player to watch: Allen Iverson: Iverson has better pretty awesome in three games this season, he's averaging 24 points and 10 assists. He didn't play New York at all last season, but in his last 3 games against the Knicks his scoring average is 39.6 points per game. Look for Iverson to set MSG on fire.

Toronto at Milwaukee 8:00pm
Another Atlantic matchup, but I think this one will be considerably less fun to watch. Milwaukee is looking to capitalize on their win over the highly regarded Bulls on Saturday by starting their first winning streak tonight. Toronto is trying to put the emotionally draining, sign of things to come in the Atlantic loss from Sunday behind them.
Toronto, as we learned, is DEEP. Between Jose Calderon, Jorge Garbajosa, Rasho Nestrovic, Joey Graham and basketball's hustle guy of the month, Carlos Delfino, Toronto has one of the deepest teams in the league. Also, you can see some of the guys making the leap to upper level play, most noteably Andrea Bargnani. I like this squad, because its got a good mix of older players and younger players, with guys like Anthony Parker and Jorge Garbajosa being able to provide some worldy (literally) knowldge to the youngsters, while young legs like TJ Ford and Jose Calderon run the squad. Of course, not mentioned as yet is Chris Bosh. He seems to have hit a sort of plateau of awesomeness, averaging around 22 points and 10 rebounds each of the last two years (not a bad plateau to hit). However since Bosh hasn't broken 20 points yet this season, expect him to feast on the Bucks' frontline; he's due for it.
Milwaukee is coming off of a big win against a good Chicago team. The problem is that they didn't play all that well in the win against Chicago, winning 78-72 in a horrible shooting display in a 34 total turnover game (both teams, not just the Bucks). I think Chicago needs to come together to play to their abilities, so I can excuse their loss to the Bucks. Toronto, however, does not have any outstanding chemistry issues. As we saw on Sunday this is a very good Raptors team, and they won't mentally fall apart for Milwaukee. Micheal Redd should be able to score, but beyond him i don't see any heroics for the Bucks. This is especially true in the case of their newest frontcourt addition, Yi Jianlian. Chris Bosh is a poor matchup against players that score and assert themselves through stregnth. He has trouble with guys like Al Jefferson, Dwight Howard, Eddy Curry, or Shaquille O'Neal. However, Bosh likes to play finesse players, and he's an exceptionally good shotblocker, as well as a good perimeter defender. Bosh is also pretty crafty with his quick feet, leading the Raptors in charges taken.
This doesn't look good for the Milwaukee Bucks, I'm picking Toronto to rebound from the overtime loss on Sunday, and the Bucks to do some soul searching tomorrow morning after the big loss.
Player to watch: Yi Jianlian- Watch China's newest sensation go up against one of the toughest defensive matchups he'll face all season. Yi can't shoot over Chris Bosh, he shouldn't be able to drive past him, he can't out jump him for rebounds. This will be a very good emasuring stick for what Yi can do against compeition he can't exploit by his size or quickness. Lets see how the import plays against some serious adversity.

Orlando at Minnesota 8:00pm
Well, our brothers from another mother (the T-Wolves) are winless through two games, which is about where they're supposed to be. Orlando is 2-1 through three games, which is about where they're supposed to be. If everything goes like its supposed to go, Orlando should walk through this one.
Minnesota will be better once Randy Foye gets healthy, but they haven't exactly been abysmal so far. They lost by 8 to a very good Denver Nuggets team, and by 4 to a medicore Knicks team. Neither game was a blowout. They probably won't win tonight, but thats not really the point in Minnesota right now (doesn't that sound terrible?). The point is for their young players to grow together as a unit, and for the young players that will be good to very good older players to separate themselves out of the pack. Al Jefferson is blatantly already a keeper, but the rest of the team is starting to show its true colors. Rashad McCants has been a very good scorer so far this season, and Ryan Gomes has been his predictable steady self. Craig Smith has taken a reduced role, and Gerald Green has barely been able to get on the court. The Big matchup of course will be Al Jefferson against Dwight Howard, but in the last 2 matchups between these talented players, Big Al has gone for 23 and 28 points. Minnesota has a chance to win this game, but its slim.
Orlando has been pretty good this season and Rashad Lewis has been playing pretty good as well. He'll be the key here, and depending on the lineup for Orlando, the defensive matchup should be very interesting. Anyone from Antoine Walker, Al Jefferson, Corey Brewer, Ryan Gomes or Craig Smith could be covering Lewis at any time, but Jefferson seems to be the only one with a chance of slowing him down.
Player to watch: Al Jefferson-I really don't need to explain this, do I? One thing I could say, Al Jefferson hasn't been the leading scorer yet for Minnesota through two games. I hope he has a 28 and 12 game right on Dwight Howard's head.

LA Clippers at Chicago 8:30pm
The Clippers were supposed to be the "aw, poor guy" story of the NBA, and if you would have asked me in the preseason, I would've said they were the 2nd worst team in the West. Well, they've been far from that, beating Golden State and the Sonics, and in both games exceeding 100 points. That have been putting up points in bushels and just outscoring their opponents each night. Now neither team that they've beaten have been defensive stalwarts like Chicago is purported to be, but wins are wins.
Chicago seems to be a team distressed. They lost to the Bucks, they lost to the Nets and they lost to the 76er's. This team is a good team, they've got to get out of this funk. Currently, however this team has some serious issues; Ben Gordon is averaging more rebounds per game than Andres Nocioni and Luol Deng, Tyrus Thomas is averaging over twice as many rebounds per game as Ben Wallace, and Chris Duhon has just as many assists and a better fg% than Kirk Hinrich. Get it together, youngsters. You're better than this. Chicago to win in a defensively highlighted contest.
Player to watch: Luol Deng-Luol Deng is the key for this Chicago team, he hasn't averaged more than 15 points per game or 7 rebounds, and thats in 35 minutes of play. The "Sudanese Sensation" has got to turn this bus around and get it back on the main road. Look for Deng to put up 25 plus and Bulls to win.

San Antonio at Houston 8:30pm
NBA's Southwest division is a complete misnomer. It should be called the "SouthBest". Houston is coming off of a tough loss to Dallas, and now they get to mosey on home to face off against the Spurs. The Spurs are undefeated, but the Rockets will be the best team they've faced so far this season.
The Rockets at times looked unbeatable last night against Dallas. However, at times their offense slowed from a steady heavy flow to an intermittent drip. A lot of that had to do with Tracy McGrady, a lot of it had to do with Yao Ming. I think however that I kind of pinpointed it. If the Rockets weren't moving the ball, and anyone holds it for more than 5 seconds, the offense seems to break down. Yao played the best last night when he either shot immediately or drove immediatly, same goes with McGrady. When those things didn't happen, you saw a lot of last second shots at the shot clock buzzer, and those rarely go in. Rockets have to keep the ball moving or the Spurs will suffocate them, and it will be turnovers for dinner. Picking the Spurs to win, the Rockets aren't ready yet.
Matchup to watch: Yao Ming Vs Tim Duncan-Nobody makes post play look easier than Yao Ming, except possibly Tim Duncan. Tim Duncan is a world class defender, Yao Ming is really super freakin tall. This matchup should decide the winner of the game, and honestly I'm really rooting for the Rockets here. I want to see a 30 and 15 game from Yao and I haven't seen him really put an entire game together yet this season.

Seattle at Sacramento 10:00pm
Medicority meets inexperience in an exciting matchup out west. One of these two teams has to win tonight, so one of them will no longer have the dubious honor of being called "winless". The kings have lost by margins of 14, 16 and 21 in their first 3 games, while the Sonics have lost by 7, 14 and 17. In other words, neither team has come clsoe to a one possession game.
Personally I think the Sonics have the edge here, because they're a more balanced team. Brad Miller, while he can still score on occasion is not the All-star he once was, but Chris Wilcox for the Sonics has been a beast in the low post so far this season. Without Ron Artest on the floor, the Kings don't have anyone really qualified to stop Kevin Durant. Jeff Green has also showed a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and he should also be effective for tonight against the Kings.
Kevin Martin should put up points for the Kings, and John Salmons has been hot recently also, but beyond that pair nobody else has really been scoring.
I pick the Sonics to end their losing streak in a high scoring game, but not necessarily a close one.
Player to watch: Kevin Durant-Kevin Durant is coming along, putting up 27 against the Suns, 24 against the Clippers and 18 in the season opener against the Nuggets. He's obviously learning each game, and if you watch him play, once you get over being concerned that someone is gonna snap the skinny kid in two, you'll see that he sees the offensive side of the game much better than almost any other rookie I can think of off of the top of my head.

Cleveland at Golden State 10:30pm
Who ya got? The team with one really big gun or the team with many small guns? Neither team is performing at the premium benchmark they were at the end of last season, but neither team should be taken lightly . Lebron James has already put up 40 points in one half once this season, so don't think he's unable to personally win a game by himself.
Golden State, if you have been watching, has just been shooting poorly, especially from three point range (31%). They will get better once Stephen Jackson comes back, but until then, the Warriors are plugging along with Kelenna Azubuike, who is averaging 20ppg. The Warriors have had no trouble scoring, however, averaging 106 points per contest so far this season. The real issue has been that their opponents have been averaging 123 points per game.
The Cavaliers have been playing uninspired basketball so far this season, with Lebron James leading the way scoring 27ppg. However after that the closest scorer is Drew Gooden with 16 per contest. That has been and will be the problem for Mr. James. He needs help, thankfully he will probably get some from the pourous Warriors defense.
My pick: Cavs win in a barn burner. They'll be just a little bit better than Golden State at stopping the other team from scoring, and that will be the difference.
Player to watch: Lebron James-Lebron should have one of his "all world" nights tonight, with Golden State being unable to stop a 5 year old from dunking on them lately.

New Orleans at LA Lakers 10:30pm
The other late game will be an interesting matchup. While New Orleans will outclass LA on virtually every front, especially the point, they will not outclass LA at one important position: shooting guard. Chris Paul, David West, Tyson Chandler, Peja Stojakovic, they're all better than their Los Angeles Lakers counterparts, but Morris Peterson is going to look like that goat from Jurassic Park (you know, the one in the T-Rex cage).
I'm picking LA to win at home, especially after the reversal from boos to cheers in the home loss against Houston. Kobe Bryant ought to play out of his mind (again) but don't be surprised if the Hornets manage to pull this out on Chris Paul's amazing court vision.
Player to watch: Vladomir Radmonovic- Hey, laugh if you want, but Radmon played well in the Phoenix game, and he got 25minutes in the Utah game. With Peja's mobility issues, they can afford to put Radmon at the 3, and let him shoot it out with Peja. If he's hot tonight, he can put up 20-30 points.


Whew, that'll do it for the previews tongiht. I hope everyone watches way too much basketball tonight. Be sure to check out the games thread to see what everyone else is saying about the action tonight, and share your own thoughts as well.



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