The NBA season enters its second month and this League Pass week features a series of division matchups, including Nuggets/Blazers, Wizards/Heat, Pistons/Bucks and Rockets/Grizzlies, the Game of the Week.
Cavs at Knicks, 7:30 p.m.: LeBron James playing at Madison Square Garden has been fun his entire career but this is also a more entertaining Knicks team than recent iterations and James’ recent comments could energize the players in support of Frank Ntilikina. Plus, Cleveland’s defense has been porous and that creates the opportunity for a more frenzied contest.
Nuggets at Trail Blazers, 10 p.m.: The first game between these two division opponents this season. Jusuf Nurkic revenge games are must-watch for the foreseeable future after he dropped a career-high 33 points a month after Denver traded him last year.
76ers at Clippers, 10:30 p.m.: Joel Embiid and DeAndre Jordan square off and we could potentially have Ben Simmons and Blake Griffin on each other for stretches in JJ Redick’s return game. The Clippers’ rotation has been shifted by injuries and it looks like both Gallinari and Beverley will still be out for this one, providing a greater challenge for their remaining players.
Celtics at Nets, 7:30 p.m.: It is the first game of the night and the only one in that 7:30 timeslot. After all these years, it is strange to have a Celtics/Nets game that does not have draft pick implications for either team since Cleveland has that choice now.
Spurs at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m.: The Mavericks are looking better after a rough start but still need to turn that improvement into wins before the season gets out of hand. Plus, it is fun to see Pau Gasol and Dirk Nowitzki share the floor even if both are not at the peak of their powers.
Wizards at Heat, 7:30 p.m.: The first section of a home-and-home that should be more competitive now that Miami is closer to full strength. John Wall and Goran Dragic should be able to fuel their offenses but watch how Bradley Beal and Dion Waiters fare against each other and how the Wizards challenge Hassan Whiteside’s pick and roll defense.
Pistons at Bucks, 8 p.m.: The Bucks are still early in the Eric Bledsoe adjustment period but have a surprisingly high profile game against the surging Pistons, who have looked good on both ends of the floor. They will need to get back in transition and dedicate resources to slow down Giannis, who has been a monster this season.
Raptors at Pelicans, 8 p.m.: Toronto starts two big men but Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins are a different level at this point in their respective careers. That said, Jrue Holiday’s defense on Kyle Lowry could loom large as the Toronto guard is often key to the Raptors’ offensive viability.
Clippers at Cavs, 7:30 p.m.: If the Clippers were healthy, this would be the clear-cut Game of the Week. However, LA has multiple starters on the mend. That said, it should still be a worthwhile game with some challenging match-ups for both teams.
Knicks at Raptors, 7:30 p.m.: Teams often struggle in their first home game after a trip so the Knicks have a chance to catch the Raptors and pick up a big road win. Kristaps Porzingis has starred in the first month of the season and will face Serge Ibaka and a talented Toronto frontcourt here.
Lakers at Suns, 10:30 p.m.: Beyond potential lottery implications, this will serve as a nice reference point for how these teams have shifted since their 10/20 game which was part of the impetus for Earl Watson’s firing. Los Angeles did not have Kentavious Caldwell-Pope the first time around and he should be guarding Devin Booker.
Clippers at Hornets, 7 p.m.: A few years ago, Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan doing battle would have been a much bigger deal but it will still be interesting to see two traditional centers share the court. Charlotte has stayed afloat without Nicolas Batum, who may be back by this point, but could get a boost from beating a talented opponent traveling there on a back-to-back.
Warriors at 76ers, 7:30 p.m.: The Sixers have been surprisingly competitive in home games against the Warriors over the last few seasons and have a substantially stronger team this season. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons had some hiccups last week in their first game against the defending champions but that experience could help them here.
Rockets at Grizzlies, 8 p.m. (Game of the Week): Remarkably, this will be the fourth and final game between these two divisional opponents in the 2017-18 season. Houston has been surging behind strong play from James Harden and Eric Gordon but the Grizzlies are moving closer to full strength and have a deep rotation that could keep their best players fresh for the final minutes.
Wizards at Raptors, 3:30 p.m.: Two competitive Eastern Conference teams fueled by their backcourts. Wall, Beal, Lowry and DeRozan will play a major part in deciding the outcome and this game could matter for seeding later on.
Pacers at Heat, 5 p.m.: These teams are in similar position trying to establish themselves as playoff teams. Victor Oladipo has impressed in a larger role this season but Miami possesses an unusual number and variety of defenders that will challenge him.
Pistons at Timberwolves, 7 p.m.: A strong Pistons’ run has elevated their standing and Andre Drummond has been a significant part of their success. He and Avery Bradley will both have their hands full with a loaded Minnesota team still figuring things out.