Indiana Pacers (2-1) vs. San Antonio Spurs (3-0)
When you looked at the list of conference contenders entering this season, Indiana and San Antonio probably did not pop off the list. Sure the Spurs made the Western Conference Finals, but they lack the pizzaz and allure that the national pundits have given to Oklahoma City or the Los Angeles teams. The same could be said for the Pacers despite the young core they have.
Really Indiana and San Antonio's team is based on the same philosophy: play solid defense and work together offensively. And these two teams probably do both of those together better than most teams in the NBA.
Will this game be the prettiest one to watch in the NBA tonight? Probably not. Actually, definitely not. This is going to be a grinding game more reminiscent of a mid-January game rather than the energy you usually see in an early season game.
Will it be good basketball game though? Yes. And if you enjoy teamwork and good defense, this is the game to watch.
Other Storylines to Watch
-The Spurs are the paragon of continuity and with the Thunder deciding to move on from James Harden it makes you appreciate everything the Spurs have done. What made them great on the floor is what makes them great on the floor. San Antonio players to a T say that sacrifice is the big reason for the Spurs long-term success.
-Danny Granger is out indefinitely, but in three games his replacement, Gerald Green, is posting 10.0 points per game in 31.0 minutes per game and shooting 31.3 percent from the floor. Green is struggling a bit in his expanded role after re-emerging last year. For Indiana to survive among the East's best, the team needs a bit more from Green.
Tonight's Other Games
New York Knicks (2-0) vs. Philadelphia 76ers (1-1)
Here is a familiar face. The 76ers lost to the Knicks 100-84 yesterday at Madison Square Garden. Carmelo Anthony had 27 points and J.R. Smith had 20 points off the bench as New York shot 50.6 percent from the floor and 11 for 27 from beyond the arc. Jrue Holiday had 27 points of his own for the 76ers.
Minnesota Timberwolves (1-1) vs. Brooklyn Nets (1-0)
Lots of injuries to report for this game. Gerald Wallace and Josh Childress will miss the game for the Nets with sore ankles. J.J. Barea might be back though after suffering a concussion Saturday. He said he passed his second concussion test and should be ready to go. But that can obviously change. Minnesota is a little wounded with Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio out.
Phoenix Suns (1-2) vs. Miami Heat (2-1)
The Suns are struggling a bit right now. After a 30-point first quarter in Orlando on Sunday, Phoenix struggled to match the same offensive fluidity and attack. After 20 points in the paint in the first quarter, the Suns had 18 points in the paint the rest of the game. More alarming for this game against the Heat, the Magic posted 40 points in the third quarter by getting out on the break and forcing action. Arron Afflalo is no LeBron James.
Utah Jazz (1-2) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (1-1)
The Robert Pera era will really get its beginning tonight as the new owner has his first home game since buying the team. The Grizzlies came back from the West Coast trip for their home opener tonight. Pera has big ideas for the Grizzlies including making FedExForum the most technologically advanced building in the league. There does not appear to be much change on the horizon personnel or staff-wise, but Pera will make his impact as this era begins.
Portland Trail Blazers (2-1) vs. Dallas Mavericks (2-1)
Jae Crowder has been one of the surprise rookies of the season so far. Crowder is averaging 8.7 points per game and 3.0 rebounds per game in 21.0 minutes per game. Crowder is an energy guy who says he wants to model his play (not personality) after Metta World Peace. Of course, when it comes to rookies, there is nobody like Damian Lillard. Lillard is averaging 21.3 points per game and 9.0 assists per game so far this season.
Golden State Warriors (2-1) vs. Sacramento Kings (0-3)
The sharks are circling the water as the Kings return to the Sleep Train Arena. Gary Payton said he is part of a group hoping to have the Kings on the floor in Seattle by 2015-16. That is not for an exhibition game, that is for a permanent relocation. This is opening night for the Kings though, so the fans of Sacramento can appreciate their franchise again.
Cleveland Cavaliers (1-2) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (2-1)
The Clippers appear to be in the crosshairs for the NBA's war on flopping. David Lee reportedly told Blake Griffin to stop flopping after a shove. The Clippers have that awful reputation and it will be tested in this somewhat ironic matchup with Anderson Varejao and the Cavaliers. Actually, Cleveland's Donald Sloan went down in the record book as the first player warned about his flopping.