NBA schedule 2014: Surging Nets face Raptors, Wizards host Rockets

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sport

Can the Nets stay hot against the suddenly stout Raptors?

A full slate of games on Saturday somehow manages to be surprisingly underwhelming, but we can look past a number of lopsided matchups to consider some of the more interesting contests. The Bucks' chances in OKC might not be great, but here are a few games that should be worth checking out.

Appetizer: Houston Rockets vs. Washington Wizards

7 p.m. ET (League Pass)

Few teams are as inconsistent as Washington, but a home matchup against the fast-paced Rockets should be entertaining regardless of the result. A dismantling at the hands of the Pacers on Friday could spell bad things for the Wizards, or maybe they'll step it up against a team that likely constitutes a slightly better matchup.

With that said, watching the likes of Jan Vesely or Kevin Seraphin try to stop Dwight Howard would be an unfortunate sight. John Wall can play some pretty mean defense on the perimeter, but the Wizards' defense hasn't been the same since a breakout 2012-13 season and that's not a good sign against a dangerous Western Conference foe.

James Harden is averaging 34.5 points over his past four games, after all.

On the other hand, the Rockets are 8-9 on the road this season and that record includes losses to the 76ers, Jazz and Kings. We've seen this team falter on the road to worse opponents.

Main Course: Brooklyn Nets vs. Toronto Raptors

7 p.m. (League Pass)

The two Eastern Conference squads may have a combined 32-38 record, but it's hard to find a better matchup given the way these two squads have played lately. With Brooklyn riding a five-game winning streak and Toronto making a strong run for the No. 3 seed we expected the Nets to be going for, this turns out to be a pretty interesting game.

One thing to keep an eye on is the play of Joe Johnson, who's been on fire the past three games -- 27.3 points per contest on 50 percent shooting. The veteran had recorded single-digit point totals in the preceding five contests, which pretty much sums up his inconsistent, perimeter-oriented game at this point.

Johnson's hot play has also coincided with the injury that's sidelined Deron Williams the past few games. He's stepped up nicely, but the Raptors' big young wing duo of DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross should be a new challenge.

Dessert: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Dallas Mavericks

8:30 p.m. (League Pass)

The Mavericks beat up on the Pellies pretty good on Friday night in the first half of a home-and-home series, but the rematch on Saturday still represents the best late game of the bunch. Even in the 107-90 loss, Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon showed up and played well -- if that happens again, who knows what could happen.

At this point, it's probably fair to get a bit worried about New Orleans' defense, which looks to be a complete mess. The team's currently giving up 106.8 points per 100 possessions, per NBA.com, a number that's only being topped by the Kings and Jazz. With athletic guys like Davis and Jrue Holiday, it's almost unimaginable to watch the Pelicans look so lost on that end of the floor.

It's a pretty solid offensive team, though, and should be able to give the Mavericks a better run with some more acceptable defense. Letting Dirk, Monta, Vince Carter and Jose Calderon constantly get open shots on the perimeter isn't exactly a good recipe for success.

The rest of the games

Suns vs. Pistons, 7:30 p.m.

Knicks vs. 76ers, 7:30 p.m.

Bobcats vs. Bulls, 8 p.m.

Bucks vs. Thunder, 8 p.m.

Magic vs. Nuggets, 9 p.m.

Celtics vs. Trail Blazers, 10 p.m.

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