MIN @ MEM: Finally back in the win column, and getting used to each other after two trades, the Grizzlies should have little trouble with what’s left of the Timberwolves. Marc Gasol is at least a match for Nikola Pekovic in size and skill, while Zach Randolph should have his way with any Minnesota PF. Ricky Rubio has been heating up recently, but losing Andrei Kirilenko (calf) was the last straw for a team that has lost its last seven road games.
POR @ ORL: Be careful, Blazers. Though Orlando has lost 12 in a row, they got Arron Afflalo back last game and Nikola Vucevic is coming off a career-high 25-point night. There is an enormous mismatch at PF, where rookie Andrew Nicholson has no chance against LaMarcus Aldridge, and if Nicolas Batum repeats his latest, Maurice Harkless is also in big trouble. Sometimes, the ‘better’ team gets overconfident and the underdog gets inspired. Portland should win, but there is no such thing as a sure thing in the NBA.
NOH @ TOR: Much-improved since acquiring Rudy Gay, the Raptors also have Andrea Bargnani back, though he’s come off the bench so far, and rookie Jonas Valanciunas had an impressive double-double against the Pacers, by far his best showing since breaking his hand. DeMar DeRozan is enjoying much more room to operate, as opponents now must focus on Gay. The much taller Greivis Vasquez might be able to post up vertically-challenged Kyle Lowry, and Robin Lopez has been playing well. If Eric Gordon has another hot shooting night, this could be high-scoring and entertaining.
SAS @ BRK: A lot depends on the health of Tim Duncan (knee) and Manu Ginobili (hamstring) but the Spurs play again tomorrow night, and coach Pop is well known for his patience. If they don’t play, it will be Tony Parker vs. Deron Williams, and Brook Lopez will have a lot more room out there. It’s about time for Gerald Wallace to get hot; he’s been concentrating almost entirely on defense while playing hurt. I simply don’t have a ‘feel’ for this game and will look elsewhere for daily league bargains.
OKC @ PHO: This is a rematch of a complete blowout on Friday. Back at home, with revenge on their minds, the Suns cannot possibly play any worse. That suggests a more respectable loss and nothing more. The Thunder are vastly superior, their superstars were barely needed in that 31-point romp and if anything, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook might put up bigger numbers if Phoenix manages to stay competitive a bit longer. Use Marcin Gortat if you must, and Michael Beasley if you dare.
HOU @ SAC: Will the faithful Sacramento fans pack the place again and rev up their team? If so, we could see 250 points scored tonight. James Harden is gearing up for a huge display as the hometown hero in the All-Star game; his assists and rebounds are on the rise and his scoring is unstoppable. It’s the unsung Rockets, like Chandler Parsons and Patrick Patterson, who really run up the scores. Omer Asik is third in the league in rebounding, and will not give up anything uncontested to Mr. Cousins. Though Houston’s W-L record is considerably better at home, they are averaging a bit more than 110 in their last four road games and the Kings are not exactly a defensive powerhouse.