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NBA Viewing Guide: Kevin Durant's Thunder square off against San Antonio Spurs

A battle between Western Conference rivals bodes well for an exciting slate of Saturday games in the NBA.


The headline act of Saturday's NBA games is the matchup between two of the Western Conference's best teams, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs. We're going to tell you which games you should put on your plate and which you should leave in the warming tray. This is your Saturday Viewing Guide:

Appetizer: Grizzlies at Knicks

12:00 p.m. ET

New York Knicks coach Mike Woodson has already stated that he is going to start Andrea Bargnani against Memphis in order to play a bigger matchup, which should make for entertaining -- if not terrible -- basketball. Despite groans about Bargnani from New York fans, Tyson Chandler's return should be a good thing for the Knicks.

How much does Tyson Chandler affect New York's defense? The Knicks' defensive anchor is coming off of a fractured leg and played 37 minutes in his first start back in a double overtime game against the Milwaukee Bucks. New York has been terrible defensively with Bargnani starting but there is hope that with Chandler back, the Knicks will right their sinking ship.

Reading material: Posting and Toasting has more on New York's lineup changes and hotel curfew night, while Grizzly Bear Blues has some trade suggestions that could help Memphis out of their recent funk.

Main Course: Thunder at Spurs

8:30 p.m. ET

This could be a potential Western Conference playoff preview. Oklahoma City holds the best record in the NBA, while the Spurs are tied for third with the Indiana Pacers. San Antonio should be well-rested after Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli sat out a 104-102 victory against Golden State on Thursday.

Can Oklahoma City keep the win streak alive? The Thunder have won eight straight games and seem to be firing on all cylinders. Russell Westbrook is having an efficient December, averaging 8.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 45% from the field. When Westbrook is feeling it, the Thunder are hard to stop.

Reading material: Pounding the Rock discusses the continuing evolution of Kawhi Leonard, while Welcome to Loud City looks at Russell Westbrook's turnover problem with a championship in mind.

Dessert: Lakers at Golden State Warriors

10:30 p.m. ET

Swagtime is back, and in a big way. Friday night's 104-91 victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves had the Los Angeles Lakers running the two man game with Pau Gasol and Nick Young beautifully. Just a few days after news of Kobe Bryant's devastating knee injury, Los Angeles is smiling once again.

How will Golden State fare with Andre Iguodala back from injury? Iggy returned to action Thursday against the Spurs after injuring his hamstring in November. He will slowly make his way back into starter's minutes, and not a moment too soon for the Warriors. Golden State is in the middle of a tough part of their schedule, in which they've dropped five of their eight games since December 6.

Reading material: SB Nation NBA's Tyler Lashbrook writes on the importance of Andre Iguodala to the Golden State Warriors, while Silver Screen and Roll has more on what to do in Los Angeles now that Kobe is out.


Side Dishes

Mavericks at Suns

9:00 p.m. ET

The Phoenix Suns are quickly becoming the League Pass darlings of the NBA, while the Mavericks are battling to make the playoffs with Dirk still in his prime.

Can Dallas stop the Suns' fast break? The Mavericks are in the bottom quarter of the league in terms of opponent fast break efficiency, and Phoenix is the best transition team in the league. Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe have been a hard duo to stop this season, and Dallas will need to get their creaky old bones back on defense.

Pelicans at Trail Blazers

10:00 p.m. ET

New Orleans will need to find a way to stop a rested Blazers team boasting one of the NBA's best offenses.

Who is the better second year player: Anthony Davis or Damian Lillard? Many across the league feel that Davis is the better player over the reigning Rookie of the Year. The Pelicans C is returning from injury and will have a real test against one of the NBA's best power forwards in LaMarcus Aldridge. Damian Lillard is known for taking things lightly carrying a chip on his shoulder, so look for both to shine in tonight's matchup.


Nuggets at Clippers

10:30 p.m. ET

Denver blew a huge 21-point lead against the Phoenix Suns last night at home, and they'll be facing off against a well-rested Los Angeles team that last played on December 18. The Nuggets have the potential to be exciting when everything is clicking.

How do the Clippers' wings fit together? The Los Angeles Times has reported that Matt Barnes, who has missed 16 games with a torn retina, will return to action against Denver Saturday night. How he is used now that L.A. has signed Stephen Jackson is going to be a question for coach Doc Rivers moving forward.

Rockets at Pistons

7:30 p.m. ET

Call us crazy, but there's just something about the Detroit Pistons that makes you want to tune in. Whether it's Brandon Jennings on the break, the dominance of Andre Drummond, or Josh Smith actually working in the post, the Pistons have been a surprise in the Eastern Conference this season.

How angry will the Rockets play? Houston got embarrassed by the Indiana Pacers in Texas Friday night, losing 114-81. That's the kind of game that teams with championship aspirations can't allow to fester. Detroit has been fun, but Houston has been projected to be a top team in the league. Even with Jeremy Lin out, can they show strength against a opponent that has proven to be a difficult out?

Pass on It

Wizards at Celtics

1:00 p.m. ET

Technically, if the playoffs started today, this would be a matchup between two playoff teams (one being a division leader). That sort of ignores the fact that, despite having the likes of Jordan Crawford and Bradley Beal, these two teams are a combined 23-28.

Does Jordan Crawford hold a grudge against the Wizards? Maybe. Crawford has been balling in the last 10 games, averaging 6.4 assists and 16.8 points per game while limiting his turnovers. It should be fun to watch Crawford go up against John Wall and a minutes-limited Beal.


Kings at Magic

7:00 p.m. ET

DeMarcus Cousins is having a solid year on both ends of the floor, validating the Sacramento Kings' decision to extend him in September. The addition of Rudy Gay was certainly a splashy move, but it's unclear whether that's a long-term fix or just new management looking to shake things up.

Who is going to defend anyone in this game? There's certainly no lack of criticism for the Kings' defense after their drubbing against the Miami Heat on Friday night. The Orlando Magic aren't much better, and this game will be a contest of who wants it more ("it" being a lottery pick).

Jazz at Bobcats

7:30 p.m. ET

The Utah Jazz are in full-on tank mode and there's no hiding it. They're battling with the Milwaukee Bucks for last in the NBA at 7-22, while the Charlotte Bobcats have been a bit of a surprise. The Cats currently sit at 13-14, which is good enough for fifth in the Eastern Conference.

What will the new Hornets logo look like? Rufus on Fire has word that the Bobcats will be revealing next year's logo at halftime of Saturday night's game. Bobcats fans have been anticipating changing their name to the Hornets ever since New Orleans' change to the Pelicans became official in January.

Cavaliers at Bulls

8:00 p.m. ET

The Cleveland Cavaliers are a bit of a mess, and needed overtime to put away the league's worst team in the Milwaukee Bucks Friday night. The Chicago Bulls are still reeling from losing Derrick Rose, and have resorted to using Joakim Noah as their lead option on offense.

Can the Bulls at least defend Kyrie Irving? Chicago has allowed opponents to score triple digits only twice in their last eight games. Despite their offensive woes, they are still buying what coach Tom Thibodeau is selling on defense. If only they could score enough to win games -- they're 1-7 over that stretch.

76ers at Bucks

8:30 p.m. ET

Philadelphia is coming off a last-second win against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night, where their offense looked to be in full-force with Michael Carter-Williams back on the floor. For the Milwaukee Bucks, continued good play from Giannis Antetokounmpo will be crucial as he is the shining light at the end of a dark tunnel in the Badger State.

Can Evan Turner keep the Sixers above the Bucks? Probably, but just barely. Liberty Ballers has an excellent writeup on how Turner's season has been perceived in Philadelphia vs. what the numbers say about his performance. Regardless, the 76ers are better than the Bucks, especially with Carter-Williams making a strong push for Rookie of the Year.

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