The week after Thanksgiving features a shockingly large amount of great games, many of them involving the Indiana Pacers. The league’s only one-loss team goes on the road to face the Los Angeles Clippers, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder in an eight-day span. There are a slew of other quality matchups as well, including some of the NBA’s most entertaining teams and a Golden State Warriors/Houston Rockets rematch that could recapture some of the fun and intensity that made last year’s games so crazy. Sadly, I took Wednesday’s Dallas Mavericks vs. New Orleans Pelicans' game off the list due to the injury to Anthony Davis. Get well soon, Anthony!
Indiana Pacers @ Portland Trail Blazers: A quality early season test for both teams. Portland will presumably keep LaMarcus Aldridge out of the paint with Roy Hibbert looming and will need a death from outside approach against a strong Pacers team. That said, Indiana will have trouble with Portland’s beautiful ball movement and passionate home crowd.
Orlando Magic @ Philadelphia 76ers: Two of my favorite young teams to watch even though the Sixers have fallen off somewhat in terms of success and entertainment after a strong start. Michael Carter-Williams should be able to take advantage of Jameer Nelson while Victor Oladipo and Arron Afflalo have favorable matchups on the perimeter. Plus, Spencer Hawes and Nikola Vucevic are tough covers for each other.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Atlanta Hawks: Jeff Teague has had a pretty strong year so far but Chris Paul will be brutal for him. Atlanta’s front line of Al Horford and Paul Millsap actually pose a different and tough challenge for the Clippers due to their range and skill.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Portland Trail Blazers: The atmosphere for this one should be incredible both because of the long-time rivalry between the franchises and Portland’s strong start to the season. Nicolas Batum has not shown the defensive stopper ability his physical profile suggests but can bring it against Kevin Durant and LaMarcus Aldridge can show how good he is by making shots over Serge Ibaka.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies: This should be one of those weeks where the most interesting Thursday game is the one not on TNT. The Clippers' front line will be a tough test for the Grizzlies with Marc Gasol out while Mike Conley will have to battle every second to keep Chris Paul contained.
Orlando Magic @ New York Knicks: Victor Oladipo playing at MSG intrigues me for some reason.
Golden State Warriors @ Houston Rockets: Those of you who watched the Warriors/Rockets games last year need no sales pitch here. For the rest of you, these teams played some of the most entertaining games of the entire 12-13 season and are poised to repeat it.
Miami Heat @ Minnesota Timberwolves: My two favorite teams to watch so far this season makes this a fascinating game. Kevin Love has started the year incredibly strong and better pray that Rick Adelman can scheme ways for him not to defend LeBron James. The Wolves have interior strength that can be hard for Miami to handle but their smallball lineup may be impossible for Minnesota to defend with their comparative lack of athleticism.
Golden State Warriors @ Memphis Grizzlies: Injuries hang over this game but it should still be pretty entertaining because of the talent involved. Having Marc Gasol out could mean less time for David Lee on Zach Randolph and help keep the game closer. Look for Harrison Barnes to try to make an impact with Andre Iguodala likely still out.
Indiana Pacers @ San Antonio Spurs [Game of the Week]: Right now, the Pacers and Spurs are dominating the league at a different level than every other team. Each has a point differential over +11 when only one other team (Miami) has one better than +6.8. Paul George has taken it to another level this year but Kawhi Leonard has the right combination of length and athleticism to make every offensive possession a struggle. A potential Finals preview and a great game regardless.
Indiana Pacers @ Oklahoma City Thunder: The tough road week for Indiana concludes with a back-to-back in Oklahoma City. We should see Paul George guard Kevin Durant for large portions and I hope we see the reverse at least some of the time. Serge Ibaka and Roy Hibbert have been masterful defensively this season and it will be a blast to see them on the same floor.