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NBA viewing guide: Heat-Pistons and Thunder-Kings highlight the night

A small schedule features two standout games as the Thunder and Heat look to extend their winning streaks.

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The show must go on after a night featuring a triple-overtime game in Chicago and perhaps the game of the year between the Indiana Pacers and Portland Trail Blazers. There are eight games to pick through Tuesday after the spectacular Monday lineup. Here's what the night is looking like:


Orlando Magic vs. Philadelphia 76ers

7 p.m. ET, FSFL, CSP

The first game of the night features two Eastern Conference teams expected to have their eyes on the 2014 NBA Draft lottery. Unfortunately for them, the competition out East isn't making it easy to cash in on losses. Cleveland, Brooklyn, New York and Milwaukee all have a worse winning percentage than both teams despite Brett Brown once saying the Sixers only had six true "NBA players" on the roster.

Who wins the battle of the rookies? This game should be interesting if only to catch two of the top rookies of the 2013 NBA Draft. Philadelphia's Michael Carter-Williams is averaging 17 points, 7.1 assists, 5.4 rebounds and a league-high 3.1 steals per game and has made an immediate impact.

Orlando's Victor Oladipo 13.2 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. He isn't having the huge all-around season Carter-Williams is putting together, but he's creating a nice rookie highlight mix with dunks like this:


Reading Material: How Oladipo at point guard is workingKeeping or trading Thaddeus Young

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics

7:30 p.m. ET, FSWI, CSNE

Fear the deer, Boston. Or at least fear Giannis Antetokounmpo, who produced this wonderful highlight the last time these two teams played:


Boston is just a game behind the Detroit Pistons for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and that's without Rajon Rondo. The good news is Rondo might return to practice any day now, according to Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe:

Which starting lineup produces again? When these teams last faced off Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger and Jordan Crawford combined for 57 points. Sullinger also puiled down 14 rebounds. The Celtics lost despite the great outing from their starters, outdone by O.J. Mayo's 22 points on 64 percent shooting along with Brandon Knight dropping 20 points of his own. Neither team is particularly deep, so this game will come down to how these players produce in Round 2.

Reading Material: Giannis and Knight keep Bucks watchableAccepting Jeff Green's game

Main Course

Detroit Pistons vs. Miami Heat

7:30 p.m. NBATV, SUN, FSD

Slim pickings on the schedule Tuesday, so we'll stick with the defending champions taking on the Flying Drummond Machine as the main course of the evening:


If nothing else we'll get a healthy serving of Drummond lob dunks and LeBron James, so this seems like a solid pick against the field. The Heat have the longest winning streak in the league at 10 straight dubyas, The Pistons are hanging onto their spot as the eighth-best team in the Eastern Conference with a .412 record. That'd be the third-worst record in the Western Conference, in case you were curious.

Will Josh Smith vs. LeBron James be a thing? The Pistons splurged this summer by signing Josh Smith, who is a competent offensive player when he isn't bricking three-point shots, but is one of the best defenders in the NBA. With his mix of size, speed and athleticism, he was brought in to deal with elite forwards. Detroit isn't competing for championships like Miami, but the team is building toward competitiveness and will need Smoove to earn his keep on defense.

Reading Material: Maurice Cheeks surprised at how good Drummond isShould Beasley start for Heat?

Side Dish

Phoenix Suns vs. Memphis Grizzlies

8 p.m. ET, SPSO, FSSW

Not interested in the Eastern Conference games? Then swing over to the Suns and Grizzlies. Both teams have been surprising for different reasons. The Suns are above .500, while the Grizzlies are an even 8-8. This game could be a bit ugly with Marc Gasol out indefinitely and Zach Randolph listed as doubtful, but hey. It's an option, right?

Point guard palooza. With Memphis' frontcourt down and out, this game will come down to Mike Conley vs. the Eric Blesode-Goran Dragic combo in the Suns' backcourt. If Randolph is sidelined for Memphis, though, that's a ton of pressure on Conley without other scoring threats to respect.

Reading Material: Judging Dave Joerger's start in MemphisIs Dragic an elite mid-range shooter?


Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Sacramento Kings

10 p.m. ET, FSOK, CSCA

This could end up as the game of the night, but it's one of two late games. Sometimes dessert is better than the meal itself, after all.

It should be a track meet, with the Kings having one of the worst defenses in the league and the Thunder playing at the fifth-fastest pace in the NBA. Put DeMarcus Cousins, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook on the court and there's sure to be through-the-roof entertainment value in this game if nothing else.

Will the Thunder take care of business? Oklahoma City is on a seven-game winning streak, the second-best streak behind the Heat right now, and should win in Sacramento. This is the first of a three-game road trip that includes matchups with the Trail Blazers and New Orleans Pelicans. It's also the first half of a back-to-back, making it an important game for the Thunder.

Reading Material: It's good to be Kevin DurantKings showing signs despite losses

Pass it on

Toronto Raptors vs. Golden State Warriors

10:30 p.m. ET, SNET, CSBA

I know, I know, passing on a Warriors game is against all logic, but Golden State has lost five of its last seven games. The injury to Andre Iguodala set the team back, but losing Toney Douglas will also hurt. The Warriors lost two ball-handlers in the span of a few weeks.

The Raptors are on a three-game losing streak, as they continue to lean on the DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay show. The two are combining for 37.1 field goal attempts per game and shooting only 40.7 percent from the field.

Reading Material: Video preview for Raptors vs. WarriorsExamining clutch Curry against Kings

Denver Nuggets vs. Brooklyn Nets

7:30 p.m. ET, ALT, YES

If it feels like there's always a new injury on the Nets roster, it's for good reason. Paul Pierce is out for two-to-four weeks with a hand injury; Deron Williams, Andrei Kirilenko and Jason Terry are out indefinitely and Brook Lopez has only played in 10 of their 17 games. The 5-12 start is worse than pretty much anyone expected and there isn't much reason to project an improvement any time soon.

The Nuggets got off to a rocky start with three straight losses to open the season, but are starting to come around. They're on a six-game winning streak. This is Game 2 of a six-game road trip and a winnable game for Denver.

Reading Material: The Nuggets and the mid-range jumperReviewing the Nets' November

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