February 22 Game Previews
CHI @ CHA: Off that embarrassing nationally-televised home loss, the Bulls must regroup quickly. Don’t expect this to be high-scoring, but Kemba Walker and Byron Mullens are pretty solid starts and you could take a chance on Gerald Henderson or Ramon Sessions. One of the biggest surprises of the trade deadline inactivity was Ben Gordon remaining in Charlotte, where he’s the unhappy #4 guard.
NYK @ TOR: The Knicks can’t play worse than they did against the Pacers. Tyson Chandler will be a big problem for the Raptors; Jonas Valanciunas lacks experience and Aaron Gray lacks skill. Nine days ago, the Raptors won in Madison Square Garden when Carmelo Anthony shot 5-for-24 with a sore arm; he should be fired up for revenge tonight. Toronto was off-form against Memphis two nights ago but should bounce back, with Rudy Gay the primary threat and Alan Anderson a possible bench contributor.
DEN @ WAS: One of the league’s best teams at home, the Nuggets must assert themselves on the road to get a good playoff seeding. Don’t expect much from Andre Iguodala, whose sore neck was bothering him last game, but Ty Lawson vs. John Wall is an exciting PG battle and Danilo Gallinari looked great on Tuesday after missing the final two pre-break games with an illness. For the Wizards, rookie Bradley Beal has more job security with Crawford traded. Nene could be psyched against his old team, which also applies to JaVale McGee in a homecoming of sorts.
DET @ IND: This should be no contest, although Greg Monroe is a lot better than Roy Hibbert. The Pistons don’t have anyone who can stop Paul George, and the Pacers are on a mission. They carved up the Knicks on Wednesday and seem intent on going deep into the East playoffs. Danny Granger (knee) will be on a minutes limit off the bench when he returns, possibly tonight or tomorrow.
SAC @ ATL: It was a surprise that the Kings gave up Robinson, but they may be hoping that Patrick Patterson is a positive influence on his Kentucky teammate DeMarcus Cousins. Though he won’t play tonight, Patterson is likely to erode the minutes and value of Jason Thompson, beginning on Sunday. The Hawks seemed almost certain to move Josh Smith, but it didn’t happen. Smoove and Al Horford can focus on a playoff push now. Atlanta did make a very minor deal, getting Dahntay Jones for Anthony Morrow, who they rarely used.
HOU@ BRK: Off a huge upset of Oklahoma City, the Rockets will be shorthanded after two trades. T-Rob is now a must-own player, though he is unlikely to dress tonight, as all the players involved in that deal must pass physicals. Expect another start by Carlos Delfino, and be aware that Chandler Parsons (ankle) won’t be 100% if he plays. It’s basically James Harden and Jeremy Lin against the Nets, who are getting useful contributions off the bench lately from C.J. Watson and Andray Blatche.