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NBA Game Previews for December 13, 2017
December 13, 2017 at 7:00 PM ET

Pacers Looking To Extend Winning Streak, Host Thunder

By Juan Pablo Aravena  

The Indiana Pacers will host the Oklahoma City Thunder at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Wednesday evening. The Pacers (16-11) have been one of the hottest teams in the league right now. This game against the Thunder represents the fifth of a six-game homestand for Indiana, and so far they have won their first four. They are coming off an impressive 126-116 overtime win over the Denver Nuggets this past Sunday, in a game where Victor Oladipo once again ended being the difference maker for the Pacers. The shooting guard scored 47 points with seven rebounds and six assists, and has emerged as one of the most prolific scorers in the NBA this season. Oladipo averages 24.5 points per game during the current term, and he has been one of the big reasons why the Pacers have one of the best offenses in the league. Indiana ranks second in three-point field-goal percentage (.395), fifth in field-goal percentage (.480), and sixth in both points per game (109.0) and points per possession (1.10). The Thunder (12-14) have not responded to their offeseason expectations, and they are yet to click despite the fact the team already played their first third of the schedule. They are coming off a 116-103 loss against the Charlotte Hornets this past Monday, and they have dropped two of their last three. This game against the Pacers will represent the first of a three-game road trip for OKC, and away games have been quite a problem for the franchise since they have a negative 3-10 mark on the road. Turning things around must be a full-team effort, but one player that needs to turn things around is Carmelo Anthony. He is averaging 12.5 points while shooting 35.2 percent from the field during December. This will be a game where several players will play against their former teams. Paul George wil face Indiana for the first time this season after being traded to the Thunder during the offseason, while Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis will do the same thing against OKC.

Posted on December 12, 2017 at 9:14 PM ET

December 13, 2017 at 7:00 PM ET

Clippers Make Cross-Country Visit to Magic

By Juan Carlos Blanco

The Los Angeles Clippers face off with the Orlando Magic at Amway Center on Wednesday evening. The Clippers (10-15) have started to slowly claw out of the hole that a recent four-game losing streak had put them in, as they'll check into Wednesday's game having won two consecutive contests. Their most recent triumph, a 96-91 victory over the Raptors on Monday night that snapped Toronto's six-game winning streak, included the return of Milos Teodosic, who'd missed the previous 22 games with a foot injury. Lou Williams led the way with 17 points, a total he supplemented with five rebounds, five assists and one steal. Montrezl Harrell matched his scoring total and added four boards and two blocks. Austin Rivers chipped in 15 points and added three assists, one rebound and one steal. DeAndre Jordan posted a 14-point, 17-rebound double-double that also included four assists, two blocks and one steal. Teodosic tallied 12 points and seven rebounds. Sam Dekker matched Teodosic's scoring total off the bench. The Clippers will check into Wednesday's contest with Danilo Gallinari likely to be listed as questionable at best with a hip injury, while Blake Griffin remains out until at least next month with his knee injury. The Magic (11-17) have had an exceedingly difficult time stringing together long stretches of winning as the season has gone on, as they've now lost four of their last six contests. Their most recent defeat came to the lowly Atlanta Hawks, which toppled them by a 117-110 margin on Saturday night. Nikola Vucevic decimated the Atlanta frontcourt again, posting 31 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists, one steal and one block. Jonathon Simmons followed with 29 points, seven boards, five assists and one steal. Elfrid Payton managed 11 points, three assists and one rebound. Shelvin Mack posted nine points, nine assists, four rebounds and one steal to lead the bench. The Magic come into Wednesday's game with Aaron Gordon (concussion) listed as questionable, while Evan Fournier (ankle) will be out. Wednesday's game will mark the first of two meetings between the teams this season. The second and final contest will unfold on Mar. 10 in Los Angeles.

Posted on December 12, 2017 at 11:10 PM ET      Updated on December 13, 2017 at 8:16 AM ET

December 13, 2017 at 7:00 PM ET

Struggling Teams Face Off in Grizzlies-Wizards Matchup

By Joel Bartilotta

The Washington Wizards play host to the Memphis Grizzlies at Verizon Center on Wednesday. The Grizzlies (8-19) have lost 15 of their last 16 games, as they are in one of their worst stretches in franchise history. The only real explanation is the loss of Mike Conley, as he continues to deal with an Achilles injury. It's hard to use that as an excuse though, as this team has succeeded in the past with Conley dealing with the exact same ailment. The offense just simply isn't good enough for this team to win games, as they currently sit 28th in scoring. Memphis also sits 29th in rebounding, as that's far too many weaknesses for any team to succeed. This is a proud franchise though, as they'll inevitably rip off a winning streak sooner rather than later. It very well may come when Conley returns, as he's expected back within the next two weeks. The Wizards (14-13) are just 5-8 across their last 13 games, as they continue to try to figure things out without John Wall. The star point guard continues to deal with a knee injury, but he's expected back within the next week. That's an addition they desperately need, as this starting unit is struggling mightily in his absence. The assists have really fallen off in his absence, as they are averaging 21 assists per game in their last five games, after averaging 23 assists per game prior to that. They simply need more from their starting-five too, as Otto Porter, Marcin Gortat and Markieff Morris are not doing enough in Wall's absence. These teams have split both of their two-game season series over the last two years.

Posted on December 12, 2017 at 11:15 PM ET      Updated on December 12, 2017 at 11:22 PM ET

December 13, 2017 at 7:30 PM ET

Celtics Looking To Bounce Back From Rare Loss

By Dan Bruno  

The Boston Celtics play host to the Denver Nuggets at TD Garden on Wednesday evening. The Celtics (23-6) are coming off a rare loss in their last contest, where they fell 108-85 against the worst team in the East, the Bulls. Kyrie Irving (quad) was not active in the loss but is listed as probable for action against the Nuggets. Irving leads the Celtics, averaging 23.7 points and 4.8 assists per game. Jaylen Brown has been playing very well this season but his production has slowed over his last eight games, where he averaged three points less than his season average of 14 points per game. Jayson Tatum continues to play at a high level, averaging 13.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Al Horford (rest) is expected to remain sidelined on Wednesday. This marks the first game back home after a three-game road trip for the Celtics. They have won their last four straight at home, where they are 12-2 this season. Meanwhile, this marks the sixth and final game of a road trip for the Nuggets, where they have gone 2-3 so far. The Nuggets are 5-10 on the road this season, but hold on to the fifth spot in the West. They are coming off an impressive win in Detroit in their last contest, where Jamal Murray led the way with 28 points. Murray has produced random scoring outbursts all season, but averages a modest 14 points per game. Will Barton has been playing great lately, averaging 19.4 points per game over his last 10 games, however he left Denver's last contest early and could be questionable for action. Gary Harris averages 15.4 points per game, while Nikola Jokic averages 15.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game.

Posted on December 12, 2017 at 11:34 PM ET      Updated on December 13, 2017 at 12:04 AM ET

December 13, 2017 at 7:30 PM ET

Heat Look To Get Back On Track Against Struggling Trail Blazers

By Dan Bruno  

The Miami Heat play host to the Portland Trail Blazers at American Airlines Arena on Wednesday evening. This marks the first game back home after a three-game road trip for the Heat (13-13). They have won two of their last three games at home, but are only 5-6 at home this season. The Heat have been dealing with a major loss as Hassan Whiteside (knee) has missed the last six games and will remain sidelined until further notice. Kelly Olynyk has been picking up some extra minutes in Whiteside's absence and is averaging 9.6 points and 5.4 rebounds per game over his last 10 games. Goran Dragic averages 17.3 points and 4.4 assists, while Dion Waiters averages 14.6 points per game. The Heat average 100.5 points per game, which is among the lowest in the league. Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers (13-13) have been dealing with their own struggles, as they have dropped five in a row. This marks the second game of a five-game road trip for the Trail Blazers, who are 6-5 on the road this season. Damian Lillard has been doing everything that he can, topping 30 points in his last three games, including 39 points in his most recent outing, and averaging 29.7 points and 5.8 assists per game over his lat 10 games. C.J. McCollum averages 21 points per game, while Jusuf Nurkic averages 15.1 points and 7.8 rebounds per game.

Posted on December 13, 2017 at 12:04 AM ET

December 13, 2017 at 8:00 PM ET

Bucks Head to Big Easy for Battle With Pelicans

By Juan Carlos Blanco

The Milwaukee Bucks head south to face the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center on Wednesday evening. The Bucks (15-10) are clearly one of the emerging squads in the Eastern Conference, and they'll check into Wednesday's game riding a three-game winning streak. Milwaukee's most recent success came at the expense of the Utah Jazz, which they toppled by a 117-100 score on Saturday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 37 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Khris Middleton posted 20 points, five rebounds and five assists. Eric Bledsoe managed 20 points as well and added four boards, one assist and three steals. John Henson supplied 11 points, seven rebounds, one assist, four blocks and one steal. Malcolm Brogdon led the bench with 16 points, a total he supplemented with two rebounds, two assists and two steals. The Bucks will come into Wednesday's game with multiple players listed as out, as Matthew Dellavedova (knee), Tony Snell (knee), Mirza Teletovic (knee) and Jason Terry (calf) will all miss the contest. The Pelicans (14-14) continue to struggle to garner any sort of consistency, with a recent recurring groin injury to Anthony Davis certainly playing a role in their difficulties. New Orleans has alternated wins and losses over the last six games, with their most recent defeat a 130-123 loss at the hands of the Houston Rockets on Monday night. Jrue Holiday led the way with an explosive 37-point effort that also included five assists, four rebounds, four steals and one block. E'Twaun Moore followed with 36 points, three rebounds and three assists on a 15-for-20 tally from the field. DeMarcus Cousins provided 24 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and one steal. Rajon Rondo supplied a 13-point, 12-rebound, 12-assist triple-double that also included eight turnovers. Darius Miller drew the start for Davis and registered 10 points, four assists, three rebounds and one steal. The Pelicans will check into Wednesday with Davis, Jameer Nelson (ankle) and Dante Cunningham (knee) all projected to be a game-time decisions. Meanwhile, Tony Allen (fibula) is out. Wednesday's game will mark the first of two meetings between the teams this season. The second and final contest will unfold in Milwaukee on Feb. 25.

Posted on December 12, 2017 at 11:52 PM ET      Updated on December 13, 2017 at 8:18 AM ET

December 13, 2017 at 8:00 PM ET

Jazz Travels to Windy City to Tangle With Bulls

By Juan Carlos Blanco

The Utah Jazz make a trip to the Windy City to tangle with the Chicago Bulls at United Center on Wednesday evening. The Jazz (13-14) have been on a wild rollercoaster swing over the last nine games, as they've followed up a six-game winning streak with three consecutive losses. Their most recent defeat came at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, which toppled them by a 117-100 margin on Saturday night. Rudy Gobert co-led the Jazz with 20 points, a total he supplemented with nine rebounds, one assist and one block. Alec Burks matched Gobert's scoring total and added six boards and three assists off the bench. Derrick Favors provided 14 points, three rebounds and one block. Joe Ingles supplied 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and one block. Donovan Mitchell endured a rough 4-for-17 shooting night on his way to 12 points, and he added two assists, one rebound, three steals and one block. Ricky Rubio filled out the stat sheet with 10 points, seven assists, two rebounds and one steal. The Jazz will list Raul Neto (concussion) as doubtful for Wednesday's game, while Joe Johnson (wrist) is questionable. Jonas Jerebko will be probable with an illness. The Bulls (6-20) still sport an unsightly record, but they're currently riding their first three-game winning streak of the season. Their most recent victory may have been the most impressive, as they bested a Kyrie Irving-less Boston Celtics squad by a 108-85 score on Monday night. Nikola Mirotic led the Bulls with 24 points, a total he supplemented with eight rebounds and a block. Bobby Portis followed with a bench-leading 23 points and also collected four rebounds, one assist and one steal. David Nwaba was productive off the bench as well with 13 points, six rebounds, one assist and one steal. Kris Dunn tallied 12 points, four rebounds, three assists and one block. Justin Holiday supplied eight points, seven rebounds, two assists and two steals. Jerian Grant matched Holiday's total on the second unit and also dished out nine assists, brought in three rebounds and recorded a pair of steals over 23 minutes. Robin Lopez pitched in seven points, four rebounds, three assists and one block. The Bulls' only short-term injury coming into Wednesday is rookie Lauri Markkannen, whose back will be evaluated prior to the game to determine his status. Wednesday's game will mark the second and final meeting between the teams this season. Utah dominated Chicago by a 110-80 score on Nov. 22.

Posted on December 12, 2017 at 11:30 PM ET      Updated on December 13, 2017 at 8:16 AM ET

December 13, 2017 at 9:00 PM ET

Raptors Travel to Face Struggling Suns

By Joel Bartilotta

The Toronto Raptors travel to Arizona to play the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on Wednesday. The Raptors (17-8) have won six of their last seven games, as they've developed into one of the best offenses in the NBA. In fact, the Raptors sit fourth in scoring and sixth in assists, which are major improvements on past seasons. What makes those improvements all the more impressive is the fact that they really didn't make any major changes in the offseason, as this core appears to be gelling with each game they play together. It's still the Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan show though, as those two lead this team in points scored and assists. As long as those two are healthy, this team will always remain an elite threat in the East. The Suns (9-20) have lost nine of their last 11 games, as they continue to struggle in the absence of Devin Booker. The young shooting guard is currently dealing with an abductor issue and he's expected to miss at least the next two weeks. That just adds to the losses this team has suffered, as numerous all-star caliber players have been in and out of the roster over recent years. Particularly, the point guard position, as Eric Bledsoe, Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas have all left the Suns in the past three years. That could have been one of the most dangerous backcourts in the league and the sad part is that Phoenix have nothing to show for those departures. T.J. Warren is really the only bright spot this season, as he's developed into one of the best scorers in the league. Without Booker though, this is one of the three-worst teams in the league. Despite the fact that Phoenix won both of their games over Toronto last season, the Raptors took down their only meeting this season, 126-113.

Posted on December 13, 2017 at 1:13 AM ET      Updated on December 13, 2017 at 1:15 AM ET

December 13, 2017 at 9:30 PM ET

Rockets Aim To Maintain Impressive Streak, Host Slumping Hornets

By Juan Pablo Aravena  

The Houston Rockets will host the visiting Charlotte Hornets at Toyota Center on Wednesday night. The Rockets (21-4) have the best record in the NBA right now, and are clicking on all cylinders since they are riding a huge 10-win streak. Houston is coming off a huge 130-123 win over the New Orleans Pelicans, one where James Harden did nothing but solidify their MVP status with a 26-point, 17-assist performance that included a few clutch buckets in the fourth when the game was on the line. Harden currently averages 32.0 points with 9.5 assists per game, ranking first and second in those categories in The Association. Chris Paul has been excellent this season as well, as the veteran point guard averages 14.8 points with 9.5 assists per contest. This game against the Hornets is the second of a long seven-game homestand. But there is no question Houston have looked good at home this season, registering a 9-3 mark at home. On the other hand, the Hornets (10-16) are coming off a 116-103 win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday, but they haven't had very good results of late. The win against Oklahoma City ended a three-game losing skid, and they have dropped four of their past six so it's not like they have been much of a threat for opposing defenses. The advanced metrics back that up, as Charlotte ranks 26th in assists per game (20.6) and 27th in field-goal percentage (.440). They do rank second in rebounds per game with 46.7 boards per contest, though, and the play of Dwight Howard has been one of the main reasons why they have been quite solid on the paint. D12 averages 16.0 points with 12.2 rebounds per game, and he has been the perfect complement for a Kemba Walker who averages 22.5 points, 6.2 assists, and 3.6 boards per contest.

Posted on December 12, 2017 at 9:52 PM ET      Updated on December 12, 2017 at 10:05 PM ET