NBA viewing guide: Pacers and Clippers clash in Los Angeles and more

Streeter Lecka

There are eight NBA games on Sunday, including a clash between top teams from each conference and two big matchups between top teams out west.

Football isn't the only sport played on Sunday; there's also a good bit of NBA action. We're here to tell you who's playing. There are eight games throughout the day, with some stars taking the floor and a big time East-West matchup.


Denver Nuggets vs. Toronto Raptors

1 p.m. ET; League Pass

Don't look now, but the Nuggets have won their last five games and eight out of their last 10. Their dismal 1-4 start seems so far away. If the playoffs started today, the Nuggets would own the No. 6 seed in a loaded Western Conference. Ty Lawson is torching teams in the lane and Denver has 10 guys averaging seven points per game. This is a team that is missing last year's second leading scorer (Danilo Gallinari) and lost an Olympian, a future Hall of Fame coach and its GM in the offseason.

Toronto, meanwhile, is swimming in the pool of mediocrity that is the Atlantic Division, otherwise known as "The Atlantic Division: Win 40 Percent Of Your Games And Still Own First Place." If two players are hoisting up 37 shots a night and their names aren't LeBron-Dwyane or Russell-Kevin, then you're probably in trouble. But the Raptors are managing the league's seventh best defense, according to Basketball-Reference, and are defending the three-point line just well enough to make things interesting.

Reading material: The man behind the numbersA six-step program to understanding the Raptors' ineptitude

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Detroit Pistons

3:30 p.m. ET; League Pass

The Sixers are one of those teams that are fun to watch even in their tanking state. There really is a lot to like here: Michael Carter-Williams weaving his way through the NBA at a Rookie of the Year rate, Evan Turner out-performing himself at every turn, Spencer Hawes launching three-pointers, Tony Wroten being Tony Wroten. It's fun times in Philadelphia, even in a 6-11 record.

The Pistons are ... not as fun. And that's mostly because of expectations. This was a team -- curiously -- put together to win games this year and so far it's resulted in six wins and 10 losses. Josh Smith's shot chart sums up Detroit's early struggles. BEWARE, IT'S FILLED WITH DEATH AND BLOOD AND DESTRUCTION:


Reading material: Thad Young: Keep or trade?Can Detroit beat a team built to tank?

Main Course

Indiana Pacers vs. Los Angeles Clippers

3:30 p.m. ET; League Pass

So we're over a month into the season now and the Pacers have only lost one game and it was to a hungry, desperate Chicago Bulls team. Paul George is playing like a legitimate MVP candidate. And Roy Hibbert is flushing everyone away from the rim. And David West may or may not eat human skulls for breakfast. And Lance Stephenson is racking up triple doubles like he's Jason Kidd. And no one can score a basket against this team, ever.

There's still no word whether or not Chris Paul will play and J.J. Redick is still questionable. But if the Clippers' backcourt is ready to go Sunday, then this is a game worth skipping out on the NFL for. Because the Clippers are so much fun on offense and the Pacers are so much fun on defense, this game really is every cliche in the book. With that, we ask:

How good is the Clippers' offense? We know they're scoring over 110 points per 100 possessions, good for fourth in the league, but is that sustainable? You put shooters on the wings and throw in two uber-athletic big man and watch Chris Paul masterfully weave an offense, but is it real? Can the Clippers win big games with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan playing together late? That's something to keep an eye on here.

How good is the Pacers' offense? Because we know that Hibbert, George and West are going to force opponents into bad shots on nearly every possession. We know that the one wildcard of the group, Stephenson, is going to drive opponents mad with his bulldog-like defensive approach. But can that group go punch-for-punch with a top-five offense? That's something we don't know. Indiana may not let this game turn into a shootout, but what if it does? Can they keep up?

Reading material: Q-and-A with Clips Nationgame preview


Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

7 p.m. ET; League Pass

Minnesota is maintaining a top-10 offense and defense, yet finds itself at 9-9 and in the middle of the lower half of the Western Conference. The Kevins (Martin and Love) are combining for over 47 points a night, which is a lot of firepower for a team's best two scorers.

Oklahoma City's Kevin is pretty good himself. Durant is averaging 28 points, eight rebounds and five assists with an ungodly 60 percent True Shooting percentage. Russell Westbrook didn't lose his athleticism after tearing his meniscus and the Thunder look like a team primed for the playoffs. Oh, and Westbrook hit a crazy game winner last time out.

Reading material: Can Mbah a Moute provide answers?Why the Warriors and Thunder are so equal

Side Dishes

Golden State Warriors vs. Sacramento Kings

6 p.m. ET; League Pass

Injuries have nagged the Warriors to a 9-8 start, but if there's anything we know for sure, it's that the Kings aren't very good. Sacramento looks better under first year coach Mike Malone, but there's still a lot of work to be done to provide a foundation in Sacramento.

Reading material: Iguodala's a perfect fit for WarriorsHave a question for Derrick Williams?

Charlotte Bobcats vs. Miami Heat

6 p.m. ET; League Pass

The Bobcats have not been terrible. Actually, if the season ended right now they'd be the No. 6 seed. The East is putrid, yeah, but the Bobcats being competitive on a nightly basis is actually pretty fun. The Heat are the Heat. And they are torching everything in sight. So maybe it won't be the Bobcats' night. But you never know. And that has to be better than knowing you're going to lose.

This is so Bobcats:


Reading material: 2014 First Round Pick StatusShould Michael Beasley start?

New Orleans Pelicans vs. New York Knicks

7:30 p.m. ET; League Pass

The New York Knicks haven't won a game in almost three weeks, losing their last eight attempts. They sport the second worst defense and the sixth worst offense, which is a pretty good recipe if you want to lose. Problem is, the Knicks weren't built to tank and they won't have their pick in the upcoming loaded draft. Whoops! The Pelicans are fun, mostly because The Brow is awesome. Be on the lookout for The Brow absolutely destroying Andrea Bargnani at some point in this game.


Reading material: How the Knicks bounce backTesting the zeal of the mid range jumper

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers

9:30 p.m. ET; League Pass

The Blazers are, at 13-3, the biggest surprise in the NBA so far and Terry Stotts is the easy frontrunner for Coach of the Year. Portland has the third best offense, via Basketball-Reference, and a defense just mediocre enough to allow itself to outscore whoever it faces. Los Angeles is over .500 for the first time all year, priming itself for the return of Kobe Bryant.

Reading material: Will tankers become trade partners for Portland?The most ridiculous Kobe narrative of all

More from SB Nation NBA:

The Hook: How the Knicks bounce back

Jason Kidd fined $50k for intentionally spilling drink

Ziller: 2009 Draft point guards as the Wu-Tang Clan

The Nets’ near-collapse in Toronto

The Hook: Kobe, Lakers made easy choice | Kobe defends extension

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