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Pre-game analysis of every NBA game by the RotoWire staff.

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NBA Game Previews for October 21, 2017
October 21, 2017 at 7:30 PM ET

Sixers Travel Without Embiid to Face Toronto

By Joel Bartilotta

The Philadelphia 76ers travel north of the border to play the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Center on Saturday. The Sixers (0-2) had more promise coming into this season than any other in recent memory, but the results are the same thus far. While both of their losses were competitive, Philly showed their inexperience by failing to execute in the fourth quarter. That's just all part of the process though, as many of the pieces appear to be working beautifully. Not only is Joel Embiid building off his impressive rookie season, Ben Simmons is shining in his first two games as well. What adds to the intrigue is the fact that they both played big minutes in their first two games, as both players were expected to see limited minutes after injury plagued 2016 seasons. Unfortunately, that fact has led to a major disadvantage in this matchup though, with Brett Brown already ruling out Embiid for this matchup, in order to rest him for the second half of a back-to-back set. That means more Dario Saric and Jahlil Okafor, who have both failed to find their form off the bench in the opening two games. The Raptors (1-0) got a huge boost from the schedule makers this season, as they get the fortune of hosting the Sixers and Chicago Bulls in their first two games. While the Sixers are no walkover, it's certainly a favorable matchup with Embiid expected to sit. In that opening win over the Bulls, Toronto managed to dominate with Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan both struggling. That's something that has been missing for this team over recent years, but there's more around these players than ever before. The acquisition of Serge Ibaka was huge last season and it's opened up things for players like Norman Powell and Jonas Valanciunas. That's what makes Toronto more scary than most, as they are one of the only teams in the league that has the same starting lineup as they did to end last year. That's an undervalued asset in this league of volatility and Toronto fans hope it leads to a third-straight Conference Semi-Finals appearance.

Posted on October 20, 2017 at 11:33 PM ET      Updated on October 20, 2017 at 11:41 PM ET

October 21, 2017 at 8:00 PM ET

Spurs Clash with Bulls at United Center

By Martin Springall

The San Antonio Spurs (1-0) kicked off their 2017-18 campaign with a home win over the upstart Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night, 107-99. LaMarcus Aldridge, who days ago inked a contract extension with the club, led the way in scoring with 25 points and 10 rebounds on his way to a double-double. Aldridge went 9-of-21 from the field and made all but one of his seven attempts from the foul line. Danny Green contributed 17 points, four boards and three triples, while Dejounte Murray posted 16 points and five rebounds while shooting 6-of-7 from the paint. Former Sacramento King Rudy Gay emerged off the bench to put up 14 points and take in four rebounds. Gay has been the picture of shooting consistency throughout his career, and adds some depth to San Antonio's roster after averaging 18.7 points through 30 starts last season. Kawhi Leonard remains sidelined with right quadriceps tendinopathy, and is listed as out indefinitely on the team's injury report. San Antonio plays five of their next match-ups on the road. Thursday night saw the Chicago Bulls (0-1), a team decimated by off-season departures, bear the woes of a snake-bitten roster in a 117-100 road drubbing at the hands of the Toronto Raptors. With 18 points, eight rebounds and 7-of-15 shooting from field goal range, Robin Lopez was the leading offensive producer for Chicago. Rookie Lauri Markkanen shone in his NBA debut, grabbing eight boards of his own while dropping 17 points and a pair of three-pointers. Justin Holiday scored 15 points and went 4-of-12 from beyond the arc for a Bulls squad that will be be without the services of Bobby Portis for another seven games following a suspension levied by the league following a fracas with teammate Nikola Mirotic during practice on Tuesday. Mirotic is expected to miss up to six weeks of action with facial fractures.

Posted on October 20, 2017 at 9:09 PM ET

October 21, 2017 at 8:00 PM ET

Pistons, Knicks Collide At Madison Square Garden

By Juan Pablo Aravena  

The New York Knicks host the visiting Detroit Pistons at Madison Square Garden on Saturday evening. The Pistons (1-1) are coming off a heart-breaking defeat against the Washington Wizards, 115-111, on Friday night. Despite the fact the team won three of four quarters on that game, the defense couldn't contain Washington's Big Three of Bradley Beal, John Wall, and Otto Porter, and ended settling for a loss they probably didn't deserve based on how they played through prolonged stretches of the game. It is still pretty early in the season, but the Pistons looked closer to the 2015-16 team that made the playoffs instead of the one that missed the postseason only a few months ago. One of the main differences for Detroit's turnaround has been the play of Reggie Jackson, as the talented point guard averages 17 points, seven assists and 4.5 rebounds per game in his first two games of the campaign. On the other hand, the Knicks (0-1) are coming off a 105-84 defeat against the Oklahoma City Thunder this past Thursday on their season debut. The loss was expected considering the considerable differences of talent between both rosters, and the Knicks looked brutally overmatched through most of the game. Kristaps Porzingis delivered a decent effort thanks to 31 points and 12 rebounds, but the rest of the team looked unimpressive. To make things more complicated, New York might be depleted ahead of this game. Michael Beasley injured his ankle and his status for Saturday's contest is uncertain, while rookie guard Frank Ntilikina suffered an ankle injury during Friday's practice and is very unlikely that he will suit up against the Pistons.

Posted on October 20, 2017 at 9:56 PM ET

October 21, 2017 at 8:00 PM ET

Heat Host Pacers, With Whiteside and Turner Out

By Joel Bartilotta

The Indiana Pacers travel to Florida to play the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on Saturday. The Pacers (1-1) had a lot of question marks coming into the season and it's hard to say if anythings changed over the first two games. While a 140-131 win over the Brooklyn Nets in the opener looks like a great sign, that was immediately cancelled out by a 114-96 defeat on Friday to the Portland Trail Blazers. What's most discouraging is the fact that Myles Turner got injured in that season opening win, as he's already been ruled out for this matchup with the Heat due to a neck issue. He's the undoubted stud of this team now with Paul George in Oklahoma and it would be hard to imagine this team winning many games without him in the fold. That means that Darren Collison, Thaddeus Young and Victor Oladipo have to carry the load, who all happened to be acquisitions in this most recent offseason. The Heat (0-1) are dealing with injuries of their own, as Hassan Whiteside is also expected to miss this game due to a bone bruise in his knee. That means both big men will be unavailable for this matchup, which is a huge disappointment for NBA fans who wanted to see these talented centers duel. What's different about the Heat's situation is that they have a gluttony of depth on their bench. Players like Josh Johnson, Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson are all coming off the bench already and most of those guys would be starting on any NBA team. It will lead to a lot of small-ball though, as both of these teams may chose to run with both of their big men expected to sit out. Kelly Olynyk is the player to watch for Miami, as the offseason acquisition is likely to play heavy minutes to fill-in for Whiteside.

Posted on October 20, 2017 at 11:13 PM ET      Updated on October 20, 2017 at 11:19 PM ET

October 21, 2017 at 8:00 PM ET

Cavs Look To Remain Undefeated, Host Magic

By Dan Bruno  

The Cleveland Cavaliers play host to the Orlando Magic, at Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday evening. This marks the second game in as many nights for both teams. The Cavs (2-0) have won two straight already, while the Magic (1-1) have split their first two games of the season. The Cavs are coming off a win in Milwaukee on Friday evening. LeBron has been monstrous in two games so fa,r filling the stat sheet with points, rebounds and assists to lead the way for his guys. Derrick Rose has proven already to be a great asset to the Cavs team with his playmaking and slashing, while Jae Crowder has shown to be more than just a solid defender, as he has scored well in each of his first two contests with Cleveland. The Cavs shot 54 percent from the field, including 42 percent from long range and hit 17-of-17 free throws in their last contest. If they can bring that same focus again, they will be very hard to beat. Meanwhile, the Magic are coming off a loss in Brooklyn on Friday, where Nikola Vucevic poured in a career-high 41 points, as his team still came up short. Aaron Gordon was sidelined with a sore ankle, while Elfrid Payton left the contest with a strained hamstring. Both Gordon and Payton will be questionable for Saturday's contest. Evan Fournier has been great so far to start the season, averaging 22.5 points and 4.0 assists over his first two games. The Magic are going to need a full effort to keep up with the Cavs, but could have the slight edge with youthfulness on their side in the second game of a back-to-back for both teams.

Posted on October 21, 2017 at 12:15 AM ET

October 21, 2017 at 8:00 PM ET

Mavericks Seek First Win Against Rockets

By Juan Carlos Blanco

The Dallas Mavericks head to the Toyota Center on Saturday evening for a tussle with the in-state division rival Houston Rockets. The Mavericks (0-2) have endured a rocky beginning to their 2017-18 campaign, as they've come up short in a pair of hard-fought battles against the Atlanta Hawks and Sacramento Kings. Dallas was hurt by the last-minute absence of Dennis Smith, Jr. (knee) on Friday, as they fell to the Kings by a 93-88 margin. Even with Nerlens Noel entering the starting lineup, the Mavericks were outrebounded by a 57-36 margin, and they were also limited to 37 points between the second and third periods. Harrison Barnes led the way for Dallas with 24 points, which he supplemented with four rebounds and one assist. Dorian Finney-Smith and Yogi Ferrell were next with matching 14-point efforts off the bench. The former added two rebounds and an assist, while the latter provided four rebounds, two assist and one steal. Dirk Nowitzki totaled 10 points, nine rebounds and two assists. J.J. Barea drew the start in Smith's stead and offered nine points, 10 assists, one rebound, one steal and one block. Nerlens Noel entered the starting lineup but supplied a modest seven points, six rebounds, three steals and two blocks over 27 minutes. Wesley Matthews notably went scoreless over 34 minutes, going 0-for-7 from the field. On the injury front, Smith has already been ruled out for Saturday's contest. Seth Curry shares the same diagnosis, as he's still some time away from returning from a lower leg injury, while Josh McRoberts (rest) is listed as questionable. The Rockets (2-0) have point-guard injury issues of their own, as marquee offseason acquisition Chris Paul has been ruled out for several weeks with his own knee problems. Paul's first absence was in Houston's most recent contest, a 105-100 win over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night. James Harden unsurprisingly stepped up his game and led the way with 27 points, nine assists, three rebounds and two steals. Eric Gordon entered the starting five as part of the domino effect of Paul's injury and poured in 25 points while adding four rebounds and three assists. Clint Capela posted a 22-point, 17-rebound double-double that also included one assist, three steals and a block. Ryan Anderson contributed 10 points and five boards. Nene Hilario led the bench with nine points, four rebounds, one assist and on steal. Outside of Paul's aforementioned ailment, the Rockets come into Saturday's battle without any other notable injuries to report. Saturday's contest marks the first of four meetings between the clubs this season. The two teams will next meet in Dallas in Jan. 24.

Posted on October 21, 2017 at 12:29 AM ET

October 21, 2017 at 8:00 PM ET

Defending Champion Warriors Visit Memphis

By Oscar Heanue

The Golden State Warriors will visit the Memphis Grizzlies at FedEx Forum on Saturday. Golden State (1-1) evened up its record with a comeback win over New Orleans on Friday night. The elite backcourt of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson delivered much of the offensive damage in the win, particularly in the second half. Thompson finished with a team-high 33 points and hit seven three-pointers. Curry, meanwhile, scored 28 while dishing out nine assists. For the second straight game, former MVP Kevin Durant impressed with his versatility on the defensive end, blocking six shots. Forward Draymond Green, though, looked somewhat shaky as he returned from a knee injury that sidelined him for a part of the season opener. Green, who shot just 3-of-11, will look to regain his footing as the team takes on Memphis. Memphis (1-0) started off the season on a high note with a double-digit win over New Orleans on Wednesday. The team was led by star point guard Mike Conley, who scored 27 points on 9-of-15 shooting. The always versatile All-Star Marc Gasol also left his mark on the game, going for 14 points and 11 rebounds along with four assists and three steals. However, the team had some bad luck during the opener, as power forward JaMychal Green exited the game early on with a left ankle sprain. They will again be without Green on Saturday, as the injury is expected to sideline him for several weeks.

Posted on October 21, 2017 at 1:42 AM ET      Updated on October 21, 2017 at 6:46 AM ET

October 21, 2017 at 8:30 PM ET

Bucks Host Undefeated Blazers

By Joel Bartilotta

The Milwaukee Bucks play host to the Portland Trail Blazers at BMO Harris Bradley Center on Saturday. The Trail Blazers (2-0) were unfortunate to start the season with a three-game road stretch, but it's led to them looking like one of the best teams in the league. Not only did they pull out a 48-point win over the Phoenix Suns without C.J. McCollum, they built off that by beating the Indiana Pacers to the tune of a 116-98 scoreline on Friday. McCollum dropped 28 points in that victory, as he was clearly motivated after a questionable one-game suspension from a preseason scuffle. Al-Farouq Aminu has quietly been the hero in the first two games, as he has accumulated 21 points and 28 rebounds thus far. Aminu has been that sort of player throughout his career though, as he's one of the best "glue guys" around. The next step is to get Jusuf Nurkic going, as he's struggled a bit in the first two games by going just 6-of-20 from the field while committing 11 turnovers. That's a promising sign for this team though, as he's expected to have a breakout season after a huge end to his 2016 campaign. The Bucks (1-1) have had to play the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers in their first two games, as they were assigned one of the toughest tasks to start their year. While they were able to pull off a huge road win in the opener against the Celtics team, Milwaukee struggled in their home building against the Cavaliers. That seems to be the nature of this team though, as it's hard to know what to expect from game to game. What is consistent is the play of Giannis Antetokounmkpo, as he already has fans talking about his MVP potential. In the first two games, Antetokounmpo has piled up 81 points, 21 rebounds, 11 assists and six steals. That just shows this young mans versatility, as he's becoming one of the "must watch" players in this blossoming league. He'll need some help if they want to go places though, as he's the only Milwaukee player since 2004 to be selected to the All-Star team.

Posted on October 20, 2017 at 11:56 PM ET      Updated on October 21, 2017 at 12:07 AM ET

October 21, 2017 at 9:00 PM ET

Kings Look To Keep Rolling Against Nuggets

By Juan Carlos Blanco

The Sacramento Kings travel to the Mile High City for a battle against the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center on Saturday night. The Kings (1-1) were fortunate to face a team missing its top point guard for the second time in as many games when they took on the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night. Sacramento was able to parlay the absence of the Mavs' 2017 first-round pick Dennis Smith, Jr. into a 93-88 victory, their first win over the new campaign. The Kings limited the Mavericks to 37 points over the second and third periods and were outstanding on the glass through all four quarters, outrebounding Dallas by a 57-36 margin and seeing seven players record at least five boards. Veteran George Hill paced Sacramento with 21 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Buddy Hield and Zach Randolph, the latter making his Kings regular-season debut after missing the opener with a dental issue, posted matching 13-point tallies. Willie Cauley-Stein drew the start at center once again and managed a 10-point, 11-rebound double-double. The Sacramento second unit combined for 34 points, with first-round pick De'Aaron Fox leading the way with nine points, 10 assists, six rebounds and one steal. Skal Labissiere (eight points, five rebounds, one block) and Garrett Temple (eight points, six boards, three assists and two steals) also made their presences felt off the bench. On the injury front, Bogan Bogdanovic enters Saturday's contest listed as questionable with the right-ankle sprain that's cost him the first two games of the season. The Nuggets (0-1) came up short in their season opener last Wednesday night, losing by a 106-96 margin to the Utah Jazz on the road. Denver's 22 turnovers and meager 13-point fourth-quarter total helped doom their chances. Will Barton paced the Nuggets with 23 points off the bench, a total he complemented with six rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block. Paul Millsap excelled in his regular-season Denver debut, tallying 19 points, six rebounds and one assist. Gary Harris posted 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and a steal. Wilson Chandler contributed nine points, two rebounds, one assist, two steals and one block. Nikola Jokic mustered a modest seven points but hauled in 12 rebounds and dished out eight assists. Jamal Murray and Emmanuel Mudiay, the Nuggets' pair of promising young point guards, pitched in with matching eight-point efforts. The Nuggets have no injuries of note heading into Saturday's game. Saturday's contest marks the first of four meetings between the conference rivals this season. The next battle will unfold in Sacramento on Nov. 20.

Posted on October 21, 2017 at 12:56 AM ET

October 21, 2017 at 9:00 PM ET

Thunder Heads West to Tangle With Stingy Jazz

By Juan Carlos Blanco

The Oklahoma City Thunder head to Salt Lake City to tangle with the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Saturday night. The Thunder (1-0) got their 2017-18 campaign off to a solid start with a 105-84 win over the New York Knicks on Thursday night. Carmelo Anthony was in the spotlight in his OKC regular-season debut considering he was facing his old squad, but it was another key offseason acquisition, Paul George, who claimed the mantle of top scorer. The former Pacer led the way with 28 points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. Anthony was close behind with 22 points, one rebound, one assist, two steals and two blocks. Russell Westbrook contributed a trademark triple-double, tallying 21 points, 16 assists, 10 rebounds and one block. Steven Adams was a solid complementary presence alongside the Thunder's new Big Three, totaling 12 points, five rebounds, one assist, five steals and three blocks. The Thunder come into Saturday's contest at full health. The Jazz (1-1) received the first blemish on their record in the new season Friday night courtesy of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who defeated Utah by a 100-97 margin. Despite the loss, the Jazz boasted a 48.1 percent success rate from the field and saw all five members of their first team manage double-digit scoring. Rodney Hood lead the way with 20 points, four assists, one rebound and one steal. Ricky Rubio, facing his old squad for the first time, chipped in with a 19-point, 10-assist double-double that also included five boards and two steals. Derrick Favors contributed 16 points, four rebounds, three assists and a block. Joe Ingles managed 14 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals, draining four of five three-point attempts in the process. Rudy Gobert contributed a 10-point, 12-rebound double-double that also included two steals and two blocks. Veteran Thabo Sefolosha paced the bench with nine points, five rebounds and a steal. The Jazz also come into Saturday's battle with no injuries of note. Saturday's game marks the first of four meetings between the two teams this season. The Thunder will play host for the next contest, which will unfold Dec. 5.

Posted on October 21, 2017 at 1:16 AM ET

October 21, 2017 at 10:30 PM ET

Staples Center Hosts Suns, Clippers

By Oscar Heanue

The Phoenix Suns will visit the Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center on Saturday. Phoenix (0-2) came close to its first win of the season on Friday, as they lost to the Lakers just 132-130. The Suns saw a number of promising performances in the game despite walking away without the win. In particular, third-year shooting guard Devin Booker was seemingly everywhere on the court, delivering 25 points to go along with 11 rebounds and eight assists. Point guard Eric Bledsoe also rebounded from his tough shooting night in the season opener, scoring a team-high 28 points. As a whole, it was a vastly better offensive night for the Suns on Friday, as the team shot over 50 percent from the floor and made 14 three-pointers. One of the few disappointing aspects of the game, however, was the play of rookie wing Josh Jackson. Jackson shot just 4-of-10 from the field and only 2-of-5 from the free-throw line, and also failed to record a rebound or assist. The Suns will likely look to involve him more as they seek their first win of the new season on Saturday. Los Angeles (1-0) had a fairly ideal season opener, winning easily over the Lakers, 108-92. Both of the Clippers' All-Star big men impressed, with Blake Griffin scoring a team-high 29 points and pulling down 12 rebounds in addition. DeAndre Jordan, meanwhile, came away with a ridiculous 24 rebounds. Jordan also delivered a pleasant surprise at the free-throw line, making all four of his attempts at the foul line. A number of new faces made relatively strong debuts in LA on Thursday. European point guard Milos Teodosic earned the nod at the starting spot, where he recorded six points and six assists. New sixth man Lou Williams, meanwhile, came off the bench for a quick 12 points. The team will hope to continue its strong interior play on Saturday as they continue to integrate a number of new pieces.

Posted on October 21, 2017 at 1:59 AM ET      Updated on October 21, 2017 at 6:47 AM ET