November 2 Games
DEN @ ORL: On paper, the Magic starting five is badly overmatched, and there’s no bench to speak of. However, the Nuggets laid a 75-point egg on Wednesday in Philly and are not yet the well-oiled machine we expect to score 100+ every night. Danilo Gallinari (ankle) is iffy, Jordan Hamilton as starting SF didn’t work, and Wilson Chandler isn’t quite himself, so we may see a lot of Corey Brewer. The main thing is, Ty Lawson and Andre Iguodala must play better than they did in the opener. Orlando will rely on veterans Jameer Nelson and Glen Davis; former Nugget Arron Afflalo might have a little extra motivation.
IND @ CHA: The Pacers had to dig deep to win their opener and figure to overwhelm the Bobcats with superior talent. Even Byron Mullens, who became a hot fantasy commodity because he added 3-point shooting to his repertoire in training camp, isn’t a particularly good NBA big man. A note of caution on George Hill, whose hip pointer is still not 100%; though he played well in Toronto, he was limping and icing it afterward. It’s also a homecoming for D.J. Augustin, who might see a few extra minutes. Danny Granger (knee) is out indefinitely, so Paul George must step up, Gerald Green will continue to start and Sam Young gains value in very deep leagues.
MIL @ BOS: It’s easy enough to pick a winner here; the Celtics looked great (except for an out-of-step Jeff Green) in a spirited loss to Miami. It’s far more difficult to predict the fantasy stars. Theoretically, Paul Pierce will dominate whoever guards him. Before we jump on the Leandro Barbosa bandwagon, let’s see how much he plays when Boston is leading; his 16 bench points in the opener were part of a comeback attempt. The PF revolving door settled on Brandon Bass vs. the Heat, as rookie Jared Sullinger is still learning the NBA. For the Bucks, it’s all about the guards. Brandon Jennings averaged ‘only” 12.3 PTS and 4 AST in three losses to Boston last season; Rajon Rondo is a tough assignment.
HOU @ ATL: The next episode of the James Harden Show features Jeremy Lin as a setup man and Omer Asik cleaning up the boards at both ends. We’re still waiting for Patrick Patterson (quad) to join them at PF, and he did practice yesterday. Marcus Morris was a surprise starter in the opener after missing much of the preseason with a sore ankle; he may be the backup ahead of promising rookie Terrence Jones, who got a DNP-CD.
Atlanta has a new look, minus Joe Johnson. We expect Josh Smith to have a huge year, Al Horford is completely healthy and Jeff Teague should keep improving. Devin Harris, acquired in a trade for Marvin Williams, will back up at PG and get a long look at SG, where newcomer Anthony Morrow can also play.
CHI @ CLE: Given that Kirk Hinrich is hobbled by a sore groin, this should be another big game for Kyrie Irving. After destroying the Wizards front line with a near triple-double, Anderson Varejao will have to work a lot harder vs. Joakim Noah, also a star the other night. The mismatch may be at PF, where Tristan Thompson faces a currently sharp Carlos Boozer. Cavs rookie SG Dion Waiters had a fine first game; now he faces Richard Hamilton, who has been injury-free so far after a frustrating 2011-12 season.