NBA schedule 2014: Clippers take on Pacers, Blazers visit Mavericks

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers look to keep rolling on the road against a possible NBA Finals opponent on Saturday night.

Eight games on Saturday night give us plenty to watch, including a possible NBA Finals preview in Indianapolis. There should be some other notable stuff happening around the league, from the Wizards looking to go above .500 to the recently-slumping Warriors visiting New Orleans, but here's a taste of the best from tonight.

Appetizer: Miami Heat vs. Charlotte Bobcats

League Pass; 7:30 p.m. ET

The Heat have won 14 consecutive contests against the Bobcats, but a recent three-game losing streak leaves the defending champions more vulnerable than they have looked in a while. Charlotte may not be an imposing opponent, but its grinding defense could slow an offense that's sputtered at times during Miami's current road trip:

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After the surprisingly lopsided loss to the Wizards on Wednesday, the Heat rebounded with a 15-point win over Philadelphia on Friday. That's not exactly much to brag out, though, particularly when the run-and-gun Sixers shot 37 percent from the field and committed 23 turnovers.

The Bobcats play a much different game, so we'll see if Miami can sustain some of the good stuff that came out of Friday night. Last time these two teams played, Miami needed to rally from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter for a 99-98 win, so expect Steve Clifford's team to come out fighting Saturday.

Main Course: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Indiana Pacers

NBA TV; 7 p.m. ET

The Pacers have lost just one game at home this season -- to the Pistons, 101-96, on Dec. 16 -- but the Clippers are the toughest opponent to visit Bankers Life Fieldhouse in a while. Indiana's past five home games have been against the Knicks, Kings, Wizards, Raptors and Pelicans, a decent group but one that lacks a team of L.A.'s caliber.

That gives the Clippers an opportunity to accomplish a rare feat, one that would be particularly impressive with Darren Collison starting at point guard. The former Pacer has played well in Chris Paul's place, averaging 16.4 points on 56 percent shooting and 6.7 assists while leading his team to a 6-1 record.

But like the Pacers recently, the Clippers haven't beaten a quality opponent yet without Paul. They've topped Dallas twice, which is decent, but got blown out in San Antonio. A win in Indiana would go a long way towards proving how good this team can be, even without CP3.

Dessert: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Dallas Mavericks

League Pass; 8:30 p.m. ET

On a four-game winning streak after beating San Antonio on the road Friday, the Trail Blazers look to avenge last month's home loss to Dallas on Saturday night. The Mavericks are one of just four teams to win a game at Moda Center this season, having beaten LaMarcus Aldridge and company, 108-106, on Dec. 7.

Portland hasn't stopped rolling since then, though, with Aldridge in particular stepping up in recent games. Since the beginning of December, he's averaging 25.1 points, 12.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game, with 19 games of 20-plus points in the 23-game span.

The Mavericks don't really have the defensive ability to stop LMA in the post, not with Dirk Nowitzki taking big minutes at power forward. That should leave him positioned for a big game as both teams light up the scoreboard.

The rest of the games (all times ET):

Detroit Pistons vs. Washington Wizards, League Pass, 7 p.m.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Chicago Bulls, League Pass, 8 p.m.

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Houston Rockets, League Pass, 8 p.m.

Utah Jazz vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, League Pass, 8 p.m.

Golden State Warriors vs. New Orleans Pelicans, League Pass, 8 p.m.

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