NBA Viewing Guide: Thunder, Nuggets headline Tuesday night games

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma City and Denver highlights the NBA's slate of games Tuesday night.

There are five games on the NBA slate tonight and we're here to tell you, once again, what games to watch and which ones to put aside. This is your Tuesday night Viewing Guide:

Appetizer

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

League Pass; 7 p.m. ET

We all know how awesome the Blazers have been this year. At 21-4, Portland is lighting teams up with the league's most efficient offense. LaMarcus Aldridge has taken that next step and Damian Lillard is drawing comparisons to Chris Paul. But Cleveland is on a bit of a roll of its own. The Cavaliers won five out their last six games before losing a close game to the Miami Heat.

Who wins between Damian Lillard and Kyrie Iriving? Most NBA fans would take Irving over Lillard if given the choice, but it's a much tougher decision than one might think. Either way, that's an intriguing matchup to keep an eye on tonight.

Also, this happened last time Lillard took the floor:

Reading material: Are the Blazers sellers or buyers?Why the Cavaliers are buyers

Main Course

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Denver Nuggets

NBA TV; 9 p.m. ET

There wasn't a lot of preseason hope for the Nuggets, who lost their general manager, coach and Andre Iguodala over the summer, but if the season ended today, Denver would be the seventh seed in a loaded Western Conference. Oklahoma City is, at 19-4, as good as we imagined. Two fast-paced teams, Nuggets-Thunder has the potential to provide up-and-down basketball and HoopMixtape worth of highlight plays.

Can the Thunder slow down Ty Lawson? Denver's point guard is a 5'11 Bugatti expeditiously navigating the back roads of France. With an increased usage rate, Lawson has cut his turnover percentage and is registering a career-high PER (20.8). He never runs out of fuel, thus the Thunder will have to either take away his driving lanes or render his teammates useless. Both are easier said than done.

Is Denver the real deal? If the season ended today, the Nuggets would be playing the Thunder in the first round. Their hot start has been a joy to watch, but is it sustainable? Tonight's matchup provides a nice arena to answer that question.

Reading material: Horns pindown for Jeremy LambNuggets should be buyers on market

Dessert

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Golden State Warriors

League Pass; 10:30 p.m. ET

A major injury has strained both the Pelicans and Warriors. New Orleans has played level ball, splitting its six games since losing Anthony Davis. Golden State, however, is just 5-6 without Andre Iguodala. The difference with Iguodala on the floor and off the floor is vast; according to NBA.com's media site, the Warriors are 17.6 net points worse with the former All-Star on the bench. Until he returns, the Warriors need to stay afloat. Winning tonight would put them at .500 in his absence.

Reading material: Shooting for success: rounding the first turnAre the Warriors buyers or sellers?

Side Dishes

Sacramento Kings vs. Charlotte Bobcats

League Pass; 7 p.m. ET

The Kings played surprisingly stingy defense in its 15-point win over the Rockets on Sunday. The Rudy Gay Experiment hasn't been a total disaster. With the addition of him and Derrick Williams, plus the firecracker that is Isaiah Thomas, the Kings are actually a fun League Pass team to watch. Charlotte's offense is abysmal, but that defense is stout. This is a game of polar opposites, so it's definitely worth a watch if you're into that kind of thing.

Reading material: The Kings are not in trade talks for Rajon RondoA Bobcats trade season primer

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Memphis Grizzlies

League Pass; 8 p.m. ET

How many synonyms are there for ugly? This game has all of those words written all over it. Point Kobe is something interesting to keep an eye on, but an injury to Marc Gasol -- and one to Mike Conley -- has robbed this game of its fun. Keep it on the back burner unless you're a Lakers or Grizzlies fan or blogger. And if you fall into one of those categories, I am sorry.

Reading material: Pau's struggles are his faultBear or bull market?

More from SB Nation NBA:

Late-game blunders cost Mike Woodson's Knicks against Wizards

The sorry state of the Bulls without Derrick Rose

Prada: Is Roy Hibbert too good for the rule of verticality?

Flannery: The Knicks are a disaster in 3 acts

They're Playing Basketball: An oral history of Kurtis Blow's iconic song and video

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