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NBA Incoming: Previewing the Week Ahead (Dec. 17)

A quarter of the season down, the NBA is starting to look like it might provide fans with one of the most exciting seasons yet.

The Knicks have surprisingly surged while the Lakers have spluttered. Oklahoma City, the Clippers, and Golden State Warriors have been on the rampage in the west, while Miami, Chicago, and Atlanta have set about topping the east. Then there are the likes of Boston, Dallas, and Indiana, all of whom are struggling to perform in a manner we’ve been accustomed to.

With three quarters of the season still to go, anything can still happen and there is sure to plenty to keep us entertained.

For now, BettingSports.com gets you ready for another week in the Association by sifting through the schedule and picking out five of the best.

Houston Rockets at New York Knicks (Monday)

Jeremy Lin will make his eagerly-anticipated return to Madison Square Garden on Monday as the Houston Rockets visit the New York Knicks.

For a brief few months last season ‘Linsanity’ took over the Big Apple. Jeremy Lin makes his return to Madison Square Garden Monday night for the first time since heading to Space City.

New York (18-5) will put its undefeated home streak on the line as Houston (11-12) looks to bounce back to .500, but all eyes and ears will be on Lin and the reaction the Manhattan faithful give him. After a somewhat quiet start to the season, Lin came alive last week in the absence of James Harden against the Spurs.

The Knicks have Carmelo Anthony (ankle) and Rasheed Wallace (foot) listed as day-to-day which could offer the Rockets a glimpse of hope, but an undermanned New York side held off Cleveland to maintain a perfect home record on Saturday.

The Rockets’ visit marks the start of a tough week for the Knicks, who face Brooklyn (see below), Chicago, and Minnesota this week.

San Antonio Spurs at Oklahoma City Thunder (Monday)

The Western Conference’s top two sides meet for the second time this season on Monday night as San Antonio (19-6) travels to Oklahoma City (19-4).

San Antonio defeated the Thunder 84-82 on Nov. 1 in OKC’s first game of the year. Since opening the season 1-2, Oklahoma City has lost just two games, and enters this contest on a 10-game winning streak.

The Spurs uncharacteristically dropped two in a row in Utah and Portland last week, a blemish that snapped a five-game winning streak. Greg Popovich’s side has looked sharp all season though and will be a legitimate test for a Thunder side that has been bowling over competition of late.

Whether or not this will prove to be a preview of the Western Conference Finals remains to be seen, but as Christmas approaches all eyes will be on this one as though it were being played in late May.

Brooklyn Nets at New York Knicks (Wednesday)

After two intense and exciting meetings in Brooklyn, the Nets and Knicks will get it on again, this time in Manhattan.

In two games this season, the Knicks and Nets have not failed to impress as a real NYC rivalry has been born. The Nets won an overtime squeaker on Nov. 26 before the Knicks took a three-point game last Tuesday.

Wednesday night’s game will see Brooklyn (13-10) visit Madison Square Garden for the first time this season. A win for Deron Williams and the Nets – which could ruin New York’s perfect home record, Monday night’s result pending – would be a real kick in the teeth for the Knicks.

Of course, the problem with these rivalry games coming thick and fast means we’re going to have to wait what will feel like an age until the sides meet again on Jan. 21.

Chicago Bulls at Atlanta Hawks (Saturday)

Both the Bulls and Hawks have turned it on over the past few weeks, emerging from the obscurity of mediocre performances to sit just behind New York and Miami at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Chicago (13-9) has found a way to win without the injured Derrick Rose while Atlanta (14-7) is moving on following Joe Johnson’s departure to Brooklyn.

The two sides can make an impact with a win on Saturday, staking a legitimate claim for east props in the process.

The Bulls will enter the game following a trio of tough games against Memphis, Boston, and New York earlier in the week. Atlanta faces Washington, Oklahoma City, and Philadelphia before entertaining Chicago.

Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors (Saturday)

Steph Curry and the surprising Golden State Warriors have been quietly on the rise.

The Golden State “Road” Warriors return from a 6-1 road trip this week to begin a streak of nine of 13 games at home. Mark Jackson’s side will welcome the struggling Los Angeles Lakers (11-14) on Saturday night.

The Warriors (16-8) have been very much flying under the radar so far this season, and have put together an impressive record that sees the side challenging the Clippers at the top of the Pacific Division.

The Lakers meanwhile have strung together two straight wins, hardly enough to consider the crisis over, but certainly a step forward. Reports suggest that Pau Gasol (knee) will begin training this week and may be good to go on Tuesday against the Bobcats. That means he’ll be likely for this trip to Oakland. Steve Nash (leg) may begin practicing this week but is unlikely to be ready to go come Saturday.

A win for the Warriors would be huge, but the Lakers took the earlier meeting between the two sides earlier this year.

In Brief…

The Los Angeles Clippers (17-6), winners of nine straight, could easily extend that streak to 13 with road games in Detroit and Phoenix this week alongside home games against New Orleans and Sacramento. … Detroit (7-19) and Washington (3-18) will meet in a rare home-and-away back-to-back series this week with Detroit hosting the Wizards on Friday and Washington welcoming the Pistons on Saturday. … Miami (15-6) travels to Dallas (11-13) on Thursday in a rematch of the 2011 NBA Finals. … Charlotte (7-16) will look to halt an 11-game skid with a trip to the Lakers on Tuesday, before heading to Phoenix, Golden State, and Denver.

Upcoming NBA Schedule

Mon 17: MIN @ ORL | HOU @ NYK | LAC @ DET | CHI @ MEM | SAS @ OKC | SAC @ PHX

Tue 18: ATL @ WAS | TOR @ CLE | UTA @ BKN | MIN @ MIA | BOS @ CHI | IND @ MIL | PHI @ DAL | SAS @ DEN | CHA @ LAL| NOH @ GSW

Wed 19: DET @ TOR | BKN @ NYK | WAS @ ORL | UTA @ IND | CLE @ BOS | OKC @ ATL | PHI @ HOU| CHA @ PHX | MIL @ MEM | GSW @ SAC | NOH @ LAC

Thu 20: OKC @ MIN | MIA @ DAL | DEN @ POR

Fri 21: ORL @ TOR | ATL @ PHI | MIL @ BOS | CHI @ NYK | WAS @ DET | IND @ CLE | DAL @ MEM | NOH @ SAS | SAC @ LAC | CHA @ GSW

Sat 22: DET @ WAS | CHI @ ATL | UTA @ MIA | IND @ NOH | MEM @ HOU | CLE @ MIL | CHA @ DEN | PHX @ POR | LAL @ GSW |

Sun 23: PHI @ BKN | MIN @ NYK | UTA @ ORL | DAL @ SAS  LAC @ PHX | POR @ SAC

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