San Antonio Spurs (4-0) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (2-2)
It is always kind of amazing to watch the great franchises be great. It seems even in this early part of the season that the Spurs continue not to get the respect they deserve. San Antonio is the only Western Conference team left unbeaten while the other contenders go through their own soul searching early on.
San Antonio has none of that. With little turnover on the roster, the Spurs came into the season ready to play and ready to take the early lead for the West's top spot — something the Spurs know does not guarantee them anything in the postseason.
Tim Duncan looks like has found the fountain of youth and Tony Parker is in complete command of the offense. And Gregg Popovich will have another inter-quarter interview to show that he is in fine form.
The Clippers, on the other hand, are one of those contenders in turmoil. Los Angeles has lost two straight games including one to the plucky young team from Cleveland. Grant Hill is hurt. Chaucney Billups is hurt. Chris Paul is putting up great numbers but it is not quite the same feel to Lob City right now.
The Spurs were the team that swept the Clippers out of the Playoffs last year and so this measuring stick game comes with the two teams feeling headed in opposite directions at this early juncture.
Other Storylines to Watch
-One of the reasons Blake Griffin might be struggling to start the season is the various injuries Griffin is playing through. Griffin is playing through a neck strain and a burst bursa sac in his elbow. Those can be quite painful. But Vinny Del Negro said Griffin is a tough kid and he will soldier on and suit up for this game tonight.
-The Clippers are fully Team Jordan now. Griffin officially signed with the shoe brand joining teammate Chris Paul.
Tonight's Other Games
Phoenix Suns (1-3) vs. Charlotte Bobcats (1-1)
There is not a lot expected out of either of these two teams. You would be hard pressed to find a prediction that does not have both near the bottom of their respective conferences. But that does not mean there are not intriguing matchups. Kemba Walker and his explosive scoring goes up against Goran Dragic. Two defensive minded centers go up against each other in Marcin Gortat and Bismack Biyombo. And Luis Scola goes up against the defense of Brendan Haywood.
Washington Wizards (0-2) vs. Boston Celtics (1-2)
Boston's struggles to open the season have been one of the puzzles of the first week. The Celtics had little turnover on their roster and were a group of familiar veterans anyway. This team should have been ready to hit the ground running. Not quite. Boston though is seeing signs that things will come together. Kevin Garnett has at least. Of course, it is one thing to say that and another to do it.
Indiana Pacers (2-2) vs. Atlanta Hawks (1-1)
This game is more about who may not be playing. Danny Granger will miss three months as he recovers from a knee procedure and that is going to be frustrating for an Indiana team that had a lot of promise. On the other side, the Hawks are expecting to get Josh Smith back after he missed this weekend's win over the Thunder.
Brooklyn Nets (1-1) vs. Miami Heat (3-1)
Jeff did a great job taking a look at this game earlier today. One storyline simmering under the surface though is how the Nets were built. Deron Williams admitted the Nets were built with an eye on the Heat and that matchup. No time like the present to figure out where you are even if Gerald Wallace remains out.
Memphis Grizzlies (2-1) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (2-0)
Of the remaining teams without a loss, the Bucks are the most surprising. After the Playoff run in 2010 when Milwaukee forced Atlanta to a seventh game, many thought the franchise was poised for something great. Brandon Jennings has slowly started to find his footing in the NBA and paired with Monta Ellis makes a great backcourt. The Grizzlies though have a great front court. That will make this game tough for Milwaukee.
Philadelphia 76ers (1-2) vs. New Orleans Hornets (2-1)
I do not think this is the matchup that ESPN imagined. Anthony Davis is still out as he recovers from a concussion (and Monty Williams cries foul over the policy… something he apologized for yesterday). Andrew Bynum is still out with a knee injury and nobody is sure when he will get back. And now Austin Rivers is still nursing an injury and is not likely to play tonight.
Denver Nuggets (1-3) vs. Houston Rockets (2-1)
Houston is falling in love — if they have not already — with James Harden. So the Rockets get a second home game and another chance to see Harden play. The Rockets team is falling in love with Harden too. Chandler Parsons said Harden has been a great fit and a joy to play with so far.
Orlando Magic (2-1) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (2-1)
Interesting center matchup here. Nikola Vucevic and Nikola Pekovic are two centers for the Montenegro national team. They go head-to-head in this matchup of sister franchises Wednesday night. Despite their common nationality, Vucevic and Pekovic could not be more different. Pekovic is a bull around the basket while Vucevic likes to play with his face to the basket and work passes to cutting teammates.
Toronto Raptors (1-3) vs. Dallas Mavericks (3-1)
Vince Carter still gets booed every time he goes to Toronto for his ugly exit all those years ago. Carter though is still going in the NBA with the bench role in Dallas. And as his original team meets, he said he would like to come full circle and would consider returning to Canada to finish his career. Would Raptors fans accept him?
Los Angeles Lakers (1-3) vs. Utah Jazz (1-3)
The Lakers are already watching Kobe Bryant's minutes. He is playing with a nagging injury right now and the Lakers want to make sure he is ready to go for the stretch run, even though that seems a long way away. Los Angeles will need to make sure all their horses are ready.
Detroit Pistons (0-4) vs. Sacramento Kings (1-3)
DeMarcus Cousins and Greg Monroe are two of the best young post players in the NBA right now. It is difficult to notice either because their teams struggle so much. Both Cousins and Monroe know that to get the respect they maybe deserve is to start winning. That might be a long way away considering where their respective franchises are. Should be a fun matchup either way.
Cleveland Cavaliers (2-2) vs. Golden State Warriors (2-2)
The Cavaliers started their West Coast trip with the big win over the Clippers. Irving has put together a very nice season for his sohpomore year and is a player you don't want to miss. Against a nice young guard like Stephen Curry, there should be a fair amount of scoring in this game. And it should be pretty exciting.