You seldom see a Saturday night NBA slate of games with a ton of intrigue. Luckily for NBA fans, tonight is one of those nights. The Golden State Warriors/Memphis Grizzlies match-up boasts a drastic stylistic difference between two teams that have been playoff darlings over the past few seasons. The Warriors are an offensive machine that in a new twist has looked very, very good defensively in an extremely small sample size of games. In an equally small sample size, the Grizzlies are giving off the unfortunate vibe of a team that missed their championship window. They’ve stumbled out of the gate to a 2-3 and haven’t looked like the steady defensive force that they’ve looked like over the past few years. If you aren’t fond of that match-up you could always check out the Clippers/Rockets game and hope that they once again combine for 255 points.
My Game of the Night choice is the undefeated Indiana Pacers visiting the new look Brooklyn Nets at the Barclays Center. Both teams are entering the second of back-to-back games, and both are considered to be among the Eastern Conference elite.
Now I’m warning you, this won’t be the prettiest game to watch. In fact, it could be downright bowling shoe ugly. If you’re looking for a high scoring affair with some highlight reel plays along the way you should direct your focus tonight to the above-mentioned games on NBA League Pass. If you want an early indicator of what might be to come over the course of the regular season, check out Indiana and Brooklyn.
The Pacers look like the class of the league early on. They’re menacing defensively, holding their six opponents to 84.3 points per game and 37.8 percent shooting, but that’s nothing new. The bench is new (and much improved!) and Paul George: MVP Candidate, is a new narrative that will be just as relevant in March as it is now. His jumper looks completely legitimate and his ability to facilitate the Pacers offense is right where Indiana needs it to be to be taken seriously offensively.
An additional step in being taken more seriously would be going on the road and defeating the Brooklyn Nets. Despite a slower start than some would’ve expected, the Nets represent the biggest test yet for the undefeated Pacers: an All-Star filled starting five with veteran experience. It’s early, but it really seems like Brooklyn will be a team that gets up for big games and occasionally takes some nights off against lesser competition. This isn’t lesser competition. These are two of the elite teams in the East. It will be a rock fight, but a tremendously competitive one.
The Pick: I’ll hesitantly go with Indiana on the road. The young Pacer legs will be more prepared to play in the 2nd night of a back-to-back than those of the Nets, but they’ll know they were in a fight. These are two of the steadiest and well put together starting units in the league, and neither bench will slouch. I’ve got the Pacers winning a close one, 89-84.
National TV: NBA TV
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET