NBA viewing guide: Unbeaten Pacers host Grizzlies, Wolves visit Clips

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Monday's nine-game NBA schedule is highlighted by Paul George and the Pacers hosting the Memphis Grizzlies, plus a tasty Western Conference matchup at Staples.

It's a busy nine-game Monday in the NBA. You'll want to start your night off with the 7-0 Indiana Pacers playing host to the Memphis Grizzlies and finish with the Los Angeles Clippers welcoming the Minnesota Timberwolves to town. There's lots more to check out in between, though, so here's the entire menu:

Appetizers

Philadelphia 76ers vs. San Antonio Spurs

7 p.m. ET

This is technically a back-to-back for the Spurs, but their matinee with the New York Knicks was essentially finished after the first quarter on Sunday. None of their starters played more than 26 minutes against New York, so they should be fairly fresh in Philadelphia.

The Sixers are coming off a double-overtime loss on Saturday night in Cleveland. They came two points shy of sweeping the home-and-home against the Cavaliers. Rookie guard Michael Carter-Williams is still shining -- he finished with 21 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds last time out. In addition to going up against the Cavs' Kyrie Irving, Carter-Williams has already battled with John Wall, Derrick Rose and Stephen Curry in his young career. Let's see how he does against Tony Parker.

Good news for Philadelphia: Tim Duncan will sit tonight for the San Antonio. He's not hurt. It's just part of the Gregg Popovich maintenance program.

Reading material: Liberty Ballers: Sean O'Connor examines Philadelphia's pace, Pounding the Rock: Mike Craven's game preview

Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

8 p.m. ET

It feels impossible, but this is the first meeting ever between Irving and Chicago point guard Derrick Rose. Irving will be looking to build on his 39-point, 12-assist, five-rebound outing on Saturday. He's had a relatively slow start, but perhaps that game -- and his game-winner -- will be the turning point for him and his team. Irving tends to stand out on big stages and, though they both downplayed it, the Cavs point guard has to be aware that people will be paying attention to this matchup. The Bulls crushed the Utah Jazz on Friday and have yet to lose at home.

Reading material: Blogabull: Ricky O'Donnell's game preview, Fear The Sword: Monday musings on Anthony Bennett and chilling out

Main course: Indiana Pacers vs. Memphis Grizzlies

7 p.m. ET

It seems Paul George and the Indiana Pacers can do nothing wrong. They're the league's lone undefeated team and George has been dominant on both ends. His 24 points, six rebounds and two assists on 8-14 shooting in Brooklyn on Saturday seemed ho-hum by his soaring standards.

While George will be doing his work on the wing, your eyes should be focused on the paint. That's where Indiana's Roy Hibbert has been taking up space, swatting shots and making all the right plays. That's also where Grizzlies typically do most of their damage. Memphis has struggled to find its rhythm thus far this season, but it is coming off a 108-90 blowout win agains the Golden State Warriors. Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol combined for 41 points and 18 rebounds on Saturday, which suggests the Grizzlies might be finding their former selves.

Reading material: Indy Cornrows: J.P. Cavanaugh's pluses and minuses of the Pacers' 7-0 start, Grizzly Bear Blues: Chris Faulkner's game preview

Side dishes

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Atlanta Hawks

7 p.m. ET

Big man Al Jefferson will be in the lineup tonight for the Bobcats after missing five games and most of the preseason due to right ankle issues. Charlotte's gone 3-2 without him in the lineup, but their best basketball is going to come when Jefferson is attracting attention on the block.

It'll be the first time Jefferson will go up against Paul Millsap since they both left Utah. Millsap is averaging 20 points and eight boards for the Hawks, who have won eight straight against the Bobcats. The more entertaining duel, though, should be the one between speedy point guards Kemba Walker and Jeff Teague.

Reading material: Rufus on Fire: Ben Swanson's game preview, Peachtree Hoops: John Jenkins is out of the rotation due to defense

Boston Celtics vs. Orlando Magic

7:30 p.m. ET

This seems way more appetizing than it did a few weeks ago. Both Boston and Orlando were thought to be tanking this season, but the Celtics have beaten the Heat and the Magic have beaten the Clippers. We know they get up for the top teams, now let's hope it's interesting when they face one another. Boston has quietly won three straight.

Reading material: Celticsblog: Jeff Clark preaches patience, Orlando Pinstriped Post: Evan Dunlap's game preview

Houston Rockets vs. Toronto Raptors

8 p.m. ET

You wouldn't ordinarily think the Raptors would have much of a chance in Houston, but it might help that the Rockets' James Harden, Chandler Parsons and Omri Casspi are all a bit banged up. Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry sprained his ankle in the first half of a blowout win against the Utah Jazz on Saturday night, but should be in the lineup to face his former team.

Reading material: Prada's Pictures: Houston's defense is a team-wide issue, RaptorsHQ: Sasha Kalra's game preview

Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz

9 p.m. ET, NBA TV

Of all the games to put on national television. Welp. Utah has lost its first seven games of the season and Denver has lost four of five. Just as Nuggets head coach Brian Shaw finally got some good news -- Wilson Chandler will make his season debut against the Jazz -- he received some awful news alongside it: JaVale McGee is out indefinitely with a fractured tibia.

Reading material: Denver Stiffs: Andrew Feinstein on Denver slowing things down, SLC Dunk: Diana Allen's game preview

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Detroit Pistons

10 p.m. ET

This is the sort of game that the Blazers need to win if they're going to be a playoff team. Everyone in Portland is talking about taking the next step, and part of that is taking care of business against Eastern Conference teams at home. For the new-look Pistons, this is the start of a four-game Western swing that isn't coming at the greatest time.

"I wish it could be a little later because it's a decent trip," Chauncey Billups told Pistons.com. "We're still kind of in the preseason stage as far as everybody playing together."

Reading material: Blazer's Edge: Sam Tongue on the Blazers' communication problems defensively, Detroit Bad Boys: Sean Corp provides a roundup of recent Pistons news

Dessert: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

10:30 p.m. ET

Saving the best for last. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin against Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love. I know I called Pacers/Grizzlies the "main course," but choose this if you can only watch one game. These teams match up rather evenly on paper and this could be a playoff preview.

Both teams are trying to establish themselves as elite teams in the West. The Clippers had higher expectations coming into the season, but the Timberwolves have been more consistent so far. Minnesota's played better defense than anyone expected, while Los Angeles is clearly still adjusting to head coach Doc Rivers' demands on that end. I have no idea what will happen, but there should be more than a handful of highlights.

Reading material: Clips Nation: The Questionable Blogger with Eric from Canis Hoopus, The Hook: Tom Ziller on everything that's going right for the Timberwolves

More from SB Nation NBA:

Prada's Pictures: Houston's defensive issues go beyond Harden

Sunday Shootaround: Anthony Davis is already here

The Hook: It's all coming together for Kevin Love

NBA power rankings: Undefeated Pacers take over top spot

Ziller: Do fans really care about tanking?

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