NBA viewing guide: Heat, Hawks the highlight of the night

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

There are five games on Tuesday's NBA slate.

There are five NBA games Tuesday night, the calm before the storm of a 13-game Wednesday. The headliner is the Atlanta Hawks visiting the Miami Heat, so the schedule isn't particularly appealing on the night. There's still reason to check out some of the action, though. Let's go over the menu and see what's cooking in the kitchen.


Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Washington Wizards

7 p.m., FSN, CSMA

The Wizards have one of the best starting fives in the NBA. John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor ArizaNene and Marcin Gortat are third overall in net rating of all lineups that have played a minimum of 50 minutes, according the NBA's media-only stats website. Washington's starters are holding teams to an average of 93.8 points per 100 possessions, a very good clip.

We'll see if that survives the Kevin Love experience.

Love is on a warpath 11 games into the season. He's averaging 27 points, 13.7 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. The Timberwolves are playing at the fastest pace in the NBA, averaging 102.2 possessions per 48 minutes, according to the NBA's media-only stats website. The Wizards defense will be put to the test.

Reading material: The early returns on Corey BrewerReflections on the Wizards' slow start

Main course

Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat

7:30 p.m., NBATV, SUN, FSS

The Miami Heat shook off a slow start and have won six of their last seven games, but the back-to-back champs face a long 82-game season after three straight NBA Finals runs. The wear and tear is already starting to show. Dwyane Wade's knees are essentially always sore and Udonis Haslem and LeBron James are both managing back spasms.

But they're still the Heat and own the best offensive efficiency in the NBA, putting up 111.5 points per 100 possessions.

Atlanta will be without Paul Millsapwho is dealing with elbow tendonitis. The Hawks have integrated Millsap into thei offense seamlessly and he's putting up 15.8 points per game on 53 percent shooting. In his absence, expect a heavy dose of Al Horford and Jeff Teague, Atlanta's leading scorer. Horford has been brilliant this season, shooting 55 percent from the field and putting up 18.3 points per game. Here's his very green shot chart:


Reading material: A deep look at how Jeff Teague is performing in the pick-and-rollMiami's first quarter progress report

Side dishes

New York Knicks vs. Detroit Pistons

7:30 p.m., MSG, FSD

The New York Knicks are a hot mess. Who knows what their starting lineup will look like, if Carmelo Anthony will be a power forward or small forward to start the game or if J.R. Smith will continue on his missed shots rampage? The Pistons haven't performed much better, struggling to adjust to the addition of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings.

If you don't feel like watching James and Horford this is a solid alternative. Smith should spend time defending Anthony and it could be a fascinating one-on-one match up. Or it could be a garbage fire of two teams that are struggling to start the season.

You can't tell me if Andre Drummond and Brandon Jennings promised at least one of these ...


... that you wouldn't watch.

Reading material: Why the Pistons are struggling to defend the threeMore grumblings from the Knicks

Boston Celtics vs. Houston Rockets

8 p.m., CSNE, CSH

If any of those earlier games go awry Dwight Howard, James Harden and the Houston Rockets will be here to help. They have their own issues as they sort through the Omer Asik mess, but they're still a fascinating team to watch. Harden is barreling to the rim as aggressively as ever and Howard's post game is fading into the abyss.

In completely unsurprising news, the Boston Herald is reporting that the Celtics are shopping their veterans. Boston GM Danny Ainge said the hasn't talked to any teams about shopping Rajon Rondo, but that's pretty hard to believe. He's Boston's best trade chip and would surely reward the Cs with young assets, financial flexibility and/or draft picks.

If anything, Boston-Houston is a game filled with twisted story lines and narrative archetypes.

Reading material: What's happening with former Celtics?Dwight Howard on Sesame Street


Phoenix Suns vs. Sacramento Kings

10 p.m., FSAZ, CSCA

Here's your sneaky-fun game of the night. Rookie coach Jeff Hornacek has the Suns hell-bent on defending the perimeter. Teams are shooting and making the fewest three-pointers while shooting the fifth-worst percentage against Phoenix.

Eric Bledsoe, the 23-year-old bodybuilding point guard, has been given the reigns of the offense and has carried it to the tune of 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds a night. He's pesky on the defensive end and has registered a 61 percent True Shooting Percentage, via Basketball-Reference. Factor in the revelation of a Markieff Morris-Miles Plumlee front court and a career year for Gerald Green and there's League Pass gold in Phoenix.

The Kings Experience is a little more for the hardened NBA fan but there is some fun stuff to watch. DeMarcus Cousins and Isaiah Thomas are both having the best year of their young careers with both players recording PERs well into the 20s.

Reading Material: Should the Suns jump on Shumpert, Faried or Thompson?The curious case of Jimmer Fredette

More from SB Nation NBA:

The Hook: What did the Knicks expect?

Sunday Shootaround: "Tank" is a four-letter word

NBA power rankings: Spurs jump Pacers for No. 1

Nicolas Batum is Portland's Mr. Everything

20 minutes at Rucker Park: From the deepest part of hell to NY's storied court

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