NBA viewing guide: Nets and Clippers precede Rockets' visit with Trail Blazers

Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Spo

TNT's two-game slate on Thursday is so sweet it's unhealthy.

Thursday brings two sweet games to your television set. First, the Brooklyn Nets host the Los Angeles Clippers in a matchup where relationships lead the headlines. In the second game of the night, the Portland Trail Blazers host the Houston Rockets in a Western Conference showdown of two top offenses.

The schedule is so sweet, we'll want 24 Hershey bars worth.

The main course: Clippers vs. Nets

8 p.m. ET, TNT

Los Angeles has a quick turnaround after Doc Rivers emotionally returned to Boston, and on Thursday he'll see Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in the starting lineup for the Brooklyn Nets. Jason Kidd's team has won two in a row and could be on the upswing after the return of Deron Williams.

Whose bench gives a boost? Jamal Crawford is usually a given to provide some bench scoring for Los Angeles, but after that it's hard to say who will be a key player for either team. Paul Pierce (if he doesn't start), Andray Blatche and Mason Plumlee are a decent enough trio. The Clippers are hoping recent signee Stephen Jackson can get on the board after failing to make much of an impact in his first game with the team.

Can DeAndre counter Brook?: The point guard matchup between Chris Paul and Deron Williams should be fun, but consistency is a thing for both players, even if Williams is still on the mend from a sprained ankle. Yet, the offense-defense matchup at center is something to watch. If Clippers center DeAndre Jordan can hamper the Nets' offensive weapon in Brook Lopez, it'll be that much harder for Williams to carry the load for Brooklyn. The Clips need more defense and definitely less of this.

Do Doc, Garnett and Pierce get emotional?: Clippers coach Doc Rivers couldn't hold it together in his return to Boston, and it didn't help the Celtics fans did enough to knock him off his stride. He'll need to keep emotions in check talking about his old war horses on Thursday.

Reading material: Clips Nation takes a look at whether this Los Angeles team is a legitimate title contender. Apparently, the Barclays Center is not profiting what it had expected, according to Nets Daily.

The dessert: Rockets vs. Trail Blazers

10:30 p.m. ET, TNT

Sweet, sweet offense. Portland comes into the Thursday night game against Houston having won five of its last six, while the Rockets seemingly have rebounded from consecutive losses to the Jazz and Suns with victories against Golden State and Orlando.

Will it turn out like last time? The two most efficient offensive teams in the NBA met on Nov. 5, and it was Houston that got cranked up to win 116-101 in Portland. The Blazers allowed the Rockets to shoot 54.7 percent from the floor and didn't do enough with 20 Houston turnovers to make it a closer game. The biggest problem is Dwight Howard, who went 10-of-13 and hit 9-of-12 free throws. That non-sugar diet is working well.


It should be noted that Howard could teach his opponents a lesson tonight. Robin Lopez recently Instagrammed this picture of Meyers Leonard eyeing a whole bag of Rolos, which is also funny because of Robin Lopez's name.

Does Houston have a defensive answer? If we're going by the past few games, they seemingly do. The Rockets held both the Warriors and Magic below 36 percent shooting for the game, and against a team scoring at such an efficient clip, that's an automatic win for Kevin McHale's squad.

Can Patrick Beverley ruffle Damian Lillard's feathers? While LaMarcus Aldridge's matchup against the Rockets' frontcourt of Terrence Jones and Howard is a thing to watch, Portland needs its point guard to play up to his standards. Beverley is a disruptor, and he could help get the Blazers' offense off track.

Reading material: Dave Deckard of Blazer's Edge answers whether or not a few teams -- Houston and Phoenix -- have Portland's number. The Dream Shake has a game preview that further breaks down each individual matchup.

More from SB Nation NBA:

"What the f--k is this?": An oral history of Kurtis Blow's "Basketball"

Coach Nick: Can Kobe help the Lakers?

Why Dwight Howard and Omer Asik didn't work together

Ziller: A tale of two Rudy Gay trades

Flannery: Celtics focus only on future

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