PHO @ SAS: They keep raising the bar higher for Lindsey Hunter’s Suns. Beat Sacramento? Check. Shock the Clippers (who were tired and missing Chris Paul)? No problem. Now they must visit a superior team that has won 15 in a row at home. If Phoenix really is improved, this might be closer than many people expect. Goran Dragic is the key, Luis Scola will benefit if Duncan rests his sore knee again, and Marcin Gortat must play well for them to have the slightest chance to win.
LAC @ POR: The Clippers are still very good without CP3. If he misses another game with his bruised kneecap, they really need Blake Griffin (ankle) to be at his best against LaMarcus Aldridge, and Eric Bledsoe has a tough assignment in Damian Lillard. Then the league’s best bench faces the league’s worst. Use Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and Lamar Odom. This is a weekend home-and-home; Portland can earn a split by winning narrowly tonight.
GSW @ MIL: Last night in Chicago, the Warriors laid an egg while Milwaukee fell just short in Cleveland. How well both teams respond 24 hours later is anybody’s guess. Golden State rarely plays two bad games in a row and has shown resilience on the road, but the Bucks have been playing very well since the coaching change. Start the usual suspects and hope defense takes a holiday.
SAC @ DEN: Way back in September, we were telling you to draft Nuggets. This is why. They are 16-3 at home, the second unit can score in bunches and the Kings prefer sloppy, fast-paced games. Just be aware that if Denver goes up by 30 — which seems likely — that will limit the starters’ minutes. Guys like Wilson Chandler, Corey Brewer and JaVale McGee could go crazy in garbage time.
IND @ UTA: The Pacers are well-rested; the Jazz got soundly thumped in L.A. last night. Paul George is a must-start every night, and George Hill scored 20 the last time these teams met. This probably won’t be high-scoring, as Indiana uses a relentless team D. They had an off-night in Portland on Wednesday, but the effort will bounce back.