NBA viewing guide: Near-perfect Pacers visit Blazers

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Portland's hosting Indiana tonight, so watch that if you like basketball.

There are five games on the slate on Monday night, with one head and shoulders above the rest: The 16-1 Indiana Pacers' matchup with the 14-3 Portland Trail Blazers. That's the late game, but there are other offerings to munch on while you're getting ready:

The Appetizer: San Antonio Spurs vs. Atlanta Hawks

8:30 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer will make his return to the city where he spent his last 19 seasons, 17 as an assistant coach. He's modeling his new team after the Spurs, with point guard Jeff Teague doing a nice Tony Parker impression this season (shoutout to Grantland's Brett Koremenos). Atlanta's 9-9, which is amazingly enough to make them the Eastern Conference's third-best team.

San Antonio had won 11 straight before dropping close games to the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets in the past week. The Spurs generally take care of business against less talented teams, and Budenholzer's knowledge of their system won't help the Hawks prepare for Manu Ginobili passing between defenders' legs.

Reading material: Pounding the Rock's game preview, Peachtree Hoops on the solid play of Shelvin Mack

The Side Dishes: Washington Wizards vs. Orlando Magic

7 p.m. ET, NBA TV

After a discouraging start, the Wizards closed out November with six wins in eight games. They're obviously not nearly as enjoyable to watch without Bradley Beal, but point guard John Wall has been on fire lately, and superstitious Washington fans should root for him to take exactly 18 shots. That's what he's done in four of his last five games. The one time he didn't, the Wizards lost.

Fun Magic fact: Power forward Andrew Nicholson has been averaging 18.8 points and 9.9 rebounds per 36 minutes this season, shooting 52 percent from the field and 38 percent on threes. He's averaging only 19.3 minutes per game, though. #FreeAndrewNicholson

Reading material: Mike Prada of Bullets Forever on Washington's schedule easing up, Evan Dunlap's Magic notebook for Orlando Pinstriped Post

Utah Jazz vs. Houston Rockets

9 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

Yes, the Jazz are still pretty bad. They're coming off a win, though! On the strength of Trey Burke's 20 points, six rebounds and three assists, they beat the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. If you want to catch a glimpse of this rookie point guard -- you're forgiven if you haven't watched him or his 3-15 Utah team play just yet -- then it's worth tuning into this game for a bit. The Rockets play fast, so it could be fun for a while.

Reading material: The Dream Shake's game preview, Jonathan Tjarks on Aaron Gordon and Jabari Parker (for Jazz fans, obviously)

Main Course: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Indiana Pacers

10 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

Ahh, finally. Two undisputedly good basketball teams, and two teams that play decidedly different styles. The Pacers are running roughshod over the entire Association with their dominant defense and slightly-above-average offense. Portland's winning with beautiful offense, but a defense that has been up and down. There's that contrast, plus great individual matchups: Can Nicolas Batum slow down Paul George? Can David West play LaMarcus Aldridge to a draw?

This should be a good test for both teams, and Indiana will be looking to build on its win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday. Following this game, their road trip will take them to Utah, San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Then they'll go home and face Miami. This is what the schedule evening out looks like.

Reading material: Satchel Price on the sweet-shooting Wesley Matthews, Indiana takes back the No. 1 spot on Jason Patt's power rankings

Pass it on: Chicago Bulls vs. New Orleans Pelicans

8:00 p.m. ET, NBA League Pass

Anthony Davis broke his stupid hand and Derrick Rose isn't coming back this season, so let's just ignore this one, okay?

Reading material: Blog a Bull rounds up some Chicago news, Tom Ziller on the implications of Davis' injury

More from SB Nation NBA:

The Hook: Anthony Davis' fractured hand puts Pelicans' playoff hopes at risk

NBA Power Rankings: Streaking Heat not yet No. 1

Herbert: New look Nuggets up to old tricks

What the Aaron Gordon vs. Jabari Parker battle showed us

The NBA's best shooter is ... Wes Matthews?

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