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NBA Incoming: Previewing the Week Ahead (Nov 18)

If it wasn’t for the media circus that has surrounded the Lakers this season, the New York Knicks would have been the talk of the Association.

The Manhattan side has surprised the world early this season, amassing a 6-0 record before finally falling to Memphis on Friday. A bounce-back win on Sunday afternoon has the team lodged firmly at the top of league standings.

Memphis is another side that has been easy to overlook, but currently has the best record in the Western Conference. Seven wins in a row – including victories over Miami, Oklahoma City, New York and the Clippers – have the Grizzlies looking good.

Elsewhere this week, the Pistons finally got off the mark, upsetting the Celtics 103-83 at the Palace. The Wizards continued to stumble, breaking records (of the wrong kind) with a second consecutive 0-8 start. And, of course, the Lakers continued to make headlines, winning four of five since the departure of Mike Brown, and still with new head coach Mike D’Antoni to take the bench.

Let’s look ahead now to five of the best fixtures on this week’s NBA calendar.

Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs (Monday)

The Clippers will need another strong performance off the bench from Jamal Crawford if they're to knock-off the San Antonio Spurs again.

Having opened the season with seven of nine at the Staples Center, the Clippers (7-2) face a four-game road trip this week in what should be a fitting barometer of just how good the side is this season.

The jaunt begins in San Antonio (8-2) on Monday night. The Clippers handed the Spurs a first loss of the season back on Nov. 7, in a decisive 106-84 showdown. The Spurs, who have won four of five since, will be looking to extract a spot of revenge on Monday night.

Oddsmakers have the Spurs as five-point favorites heading into the game, but the Clippers – unbeaten on the road – will like their chances.

After facing the Spurs, the Clippers move on to Oklahoma City (Wed), Brooklyn (Fri) and Atlanta (Sat).

Meanwhile, the Spurs hit the road for a six-game trip taking in the East Coast.

Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers (Tuesday)

The glamor team of the west meets the new glamor team of the east Tuesday as Brooklyn (6-2) travels to Los Angeles to take on the Lakers (5-5).

Brooklyn’s strong start to the season has been somewhat overshadowed by the Knicks’ success – something that won’t sit well with those across the East River – but a marquee victory over the Lakers would send headlines throughout the five boroughs and beyond.

The Nets may be lamenting that this game didn’t come two weeks earlier, as the Lakers – winners of four of five – look to be on the way to steadying the ship, if Sunday night’s performance – which saw strong outings for Bryant, Howard, Gasol and World Peace – is anything to go by.

This game could be D’Antoni’s first game on the bench, while Gerard Wallace should be back for Brooklyn.

Milwaukee Bucks at Miami Heat (Wednesday)

Monta Ellis and the surprising Milwaukee Bucks will look to defeat Miami in South Beach on Wednesday.

The Central Division-leading Milwaukee Bucks (6-2) – yes, division leading! – have gone way under the radar, something that could change if the team was to knock-off Miami (8-3) on Wednesday night.

Outside of the Atlantic Division, these are the only two sides in the Eastern Conference with a winning record, which makes this one of the more appealing match-ups on this week’s slate. The Bucks will head to South Beach with an unbeaten road record, providing the team can take care of Charlotte on Monday night, while the Heat is unbeaten at home.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Boston Celtics (Friday)

Boston (6-5) has suffered an erratic season so far, punctuated perfectly by a loss to Detroit on Sunday. The Celtics face a tough week ahead, welcoming two Western Conference powerhouses to TD Garden. First up is San Antonio on Wednesday followed by Oklahoma City on Friday.

The Thunder (8-3) was questioned after early struggles but has won seven of the last eight, and remains narrowly behind Memphis for the lead in the Northwest Division. A Thanksgiving Eve clash with the Pacific-leading Clippers precedes this game (a match-up worth watching in its own right), and by the time the Thunder rolls into Beantown, we could be looking at a huge marker match.

Los Angeles Lakers at Memphis Grizzlies (Friday)

Marc Gasol and the Western Conference-leading Memphis Grizzlies have had lots to smile about so far this season.

The best in the west, Memphis (8-1) welcomes the Lakers Friday night in what is shaping up to be a tastier Thanksgiving dessert than pumpkin pie.

Taking down Miami, Oklahoma City and New York in consecutive games as well as an eight-game winning streak should be all the credentials the Grizzlies need to prove that this season the team from Memphis means business, but imagine what a scalp of the Lakers would do for Lionel Hollins’ side.

The revamped and reorganized Lakers won’t roll over though and a win over the Grizzlies could in theory be part of a five-game winning streak for the Los Angeles side.

In Brief…

Not fancying its chances against the NFL triple-header this Thursday, the NBA will take Thanksgiving off, so be sure to get your fix from the 14(!) games on offer on Wednesday. … A win in Orlando (3-6) on Tuesday would propel Detroit (2-9) to the dizzying heights of a two-game winning streak. … Still winless, Washington will again look to get off the mark this week with games in Indiana (Mon) and Atlanta (Wed), before hosting Charlotte (Sat). … New York (7-1) will hope to continue its hot start to the season with road games in New Orleans (Tue), Dallas (Wed) and Houston (Fri) before returning to Madison Square Garden to take on Detroit (Sun).

Upcoming NBA Schedule

Monday 19 November

Indiana Pacers (-2.5) at Washington Wizards (Total: 178.5)

Milwaukee Bucks (-3.5) at Charlotte Bobcats (Total: 193.5)

Orlando Magic (+9.5) at Atlanta Hawks (Total: 187)

Denver Nuggets (+6.5) at Memphis Grizzlies (Total: 196)

Golden State Warriors (+6) at Dallas Mavericks (Total: 199.5)

Los Angeles Clippers (+5) at San Antonio Spurs (Total: 199.5)

Houston Rockets (+7) at Utah Jazz (Total: 197)


Tuesday 20: TOR @ PHI | NYK @ NOH | BKN @ LAL

Wednesday 21: TOR @ CHA | DET @ ORL | PHI @ CLE | NOH @ IND | SAS @ BOS | WAS @ ATL | MIL @ MIA | LAC @ OKC | CHI @ HOU | DEN @ MIN | NYK @ DAL | POR @ PHX | LAL @ SAC | BKN @ GSW

Thursday 22: No Games Scheduled

Friday 23: ATL @ CHA | CLE @ ORL | OKC @ BOS | LAC @ BKN | TOR @ DET | SAS @ IND | LAL @ MEM | NYK @ HOU | GSW @ DEN | SAC @ UTA | NOH @ PHX | MIN @ POR

Saturday 24: OKC @ PHI | CHA @ WAS | LAC @ ATL | CLE @ MIA | LAL @ DAL | CHI @ MIL | UTA @ SAC | MIN @ GSW

Sunday 25: SAS @ TOR | DET @ NYK | POR @ BKN | PHX @ PHI | BOS @ ORL | NOH @ DEN

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