Well, between the weekend and a couple of early Clipper games, we haven't had our open thread to discuss other games. I'm a bit late tonight also since several games have already tipped off, but better late than never, and at least we're in time for the national TV games.
- Chicago at Toronto, 7:00 PM
- Indiana at Orlando, 7:00 PM
- Brooklyn at Atlanta, 7:30 PM
- New Orleans at Boston, 8:00 PM
- Denver at Oklahoma City, 8:00 PM
- Houston at Dallas, 8:00 PM, ESPN
- Memphis at San Antonio, 8:30 PM
- Washington at Sacramento, 10:00 PM
- Cleveland at Portland, 10:00 PM
- Miami at Golden State, 10:30 PM, ESPN
Tonight's schedule was pretty much tailor made to produce a good night for the Clippers. If you were to rank the top teams in the league and then remove the Clippers, you might get the six participants squaring off in three of tonight's games.
The Nuggets, winners of six in a row, face the Thunder, owners of the best record in the NBA. A Nuggets win would throw OKC into a tie for best overall record with the Clippers, and give the LAC a chance to take over the lead tomorrow night in Minnesota. Unfortunately, all six of those Denver wins came in the friendly, high-altitude confines of the Pepsi Center, and winning in Oklahoma City where the Thunder are 18-3 will be much, much tougher. If they can pull it off, then it might be time to start paying attention to the Nuggets as a real threat in the West.
San Antonio, the third member of the big three at the top of the league along with the Clippers and Thunder, host Memphis tonight, with the Grizzlies currently being fourth in the West and arguably fourth in the NBA as well. The Spurs will be without Manu Ginobili who pulled a hamstring in their last game. I'd still give the advantage to San Antonio in this game, but Memphis has demonstrated an ability to beat the Spurs in recent years, so it should be a really good game.
Unfortunately, you'll need League Pass to watch either of these important Western Conference clashes, because ESPN is showing Houston at Dallas instead. So yeah, instead of 1 vs. 6 or 3 vs. 4 in the West, we get 7 vs. 11. Grreaat. Dallas is at least starting to play better now as Dirk Nowitzki rounds into shape, but I'd certainly rather watch either of those other games.
The late game on ESPN is another big one for Clipper fans though. The struggling Miami Heat visit Oakland to face the Golden State Warriors, currently second in the Western Conference. The Heat are clearly the best team in the East, but that bar is considerably lower than the one in the West, and in fact the Warriors, who are fifth in the West, will have the same record as the Heat if they beat them tonight. The Heat have lost six of their last ten, and needed overtime against losing teams to manage two of the four wins. So they have been decidedly unimpressive in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Golden State's schedule has turned difficult, and they haven't responded thus far, losing to the Clippers, Grizzlies and Nuggets in their last four games. Tonight's another chance to prove themselves, this time against the defending NBA champs. But after the Warriors stole a win in Miami last month, the Heat should be super-motivated in this one.
In another game of interest, the Wizards, the Clippers Saturday opponent, will be looking for their fourth straight win in Sacramento. This will be John Wall's third game of the season after he returned from injury last week.