After a slow Thursday night of NBA action with just two games, the schedule heats up on Friday with 12 matchups. SBR will feature in-depth previews on five of the best ones. Check them out here with opening NBA odds. All times are Eastern.
Bulls vs. 76ers (TBA)
Covered by Dave
No game on Friday has more uncertainty that this 7 p.m. matchup. Will Chicago have stars Derrick Rose and/or Joakim Noah? If there was ever a game to rest those guys, it's this one against the absolutely terrible 76ers. Rose returned Wednesday after missing two games with sprained ankles and had 13 points and seven assists in a 95-86 victory at Milwaukee. However, he also tweaked one of those ankles and could be seen limping after the game. Chicago plays again on Saturday at home against Boston so you can probably expect Rose to sit against Philly. Ditto Noah, who has missed two straight games with flu-like symptoms. If you need to rest guys, do it on the road and not in front of the home folks who pay big bucks for season tickets. Philadelphia actually was a slight favorite on Wednesday at home against Orlando but lost 91-89 as the Magic hit a winning buzzer-beater. The 76ers still haven't scored in triple digits in starting 0-5. In that Magic loss, Philly rookie big man Nerlens Noel left the game with a sprained left ankle. He had four points and two rebounds in 16 minutes and is iffy here. Thus you could have completely anonymous starting five for the 76ers in this one.
Pacers vs. Celtics (-6, 191)
Covered by Joe C.
This 7:30 p.m. tip from Beantown features a pair of one-win teams almost surely bound for the lottery. The Pacers enter off a 96-94 overtime loss in Washington on Wednesday and again played without injured starters David West, George Hill and C.J. Watson. Somehow the game-winning 3-point attempt at the end of OT ended up in the hands of Pacers 7-foot-2 center Roy Hibbert. Naturally he missed. To make matters worse, guard Rodney Stuckey, a semi-starter, aggravated a tendon in his left foot during the loss and will miss at least the next three games. So the Indiana lineup on Friday will be Hibbert and a bunch of no-names. Boston's defense is porous as the Celtics lost their third straight on Wednesday, 110-107 at home vs. Toronto. The Boston Celtics have allowed at least 104 points in each loss. On the bright side, Rajon Rondo had 13 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds in the loss. His trade value is going up.
Knicks vs. Nets (-5, 193)
Covered by Dave
It's a 7:30 tip in Brooklyn for the battle of New York City. Both teams come off ugly losses. The Nets were shocked 98-91 at home by Minnesota on Wednesday as big favorites. Brooklyn allowed the young Wolves to score the final nine points of the game. Nets center Brook Lopez, playing just his second game this season off a sprained right foot, looked rusty in going 5-for-14 from the field for 10 points. The Knicks lost 98-95 in Detroit on Wednesday, the Pistons' first win of the season. Carmelo Anthony was awful, going 5-for-21 for 13 points. New York played without injured sixth man/occasional starter J.R. Smith, who was suspended one game. He will be back in the lineup here. The New York Knicks won three of four vs. Brooklyn last season.
Grizzlies at Thunder (+8.5, 185)
Covered by Jason
This 8 p.m. ESPN game looked like a great matchup back when the schedule was released but of course the Thunder were like an NBA championship-caliber team then. Now injury-ravaged OKC is one of the worst teams in the NBA. The Thunder enter having lost two straight by a combined 43 points. In Tuesday's 100-88 loss in Toronto, the injury news got worse. Forward Perry Jones, who has really played well starting in Kevin Durant's spot, left clutching his right knee and didn't return. Jones, who is averaging 15.6 points, was able to walk out of the arena under his own power so that's a good sign. He's obviously questionable, however. Memphis is in the conversation as the most impressive team in the NBA thus far at 5-0. As usual, the Grizzlies' defense is tremendous, allowing a league-low 86.2 points per game. Thus you can see why such a low NBA odds total here with Oklahoma City having so few healthy scoring options.
Cavaliers at Nuggets (+3, 207.5)
Covered by Jason
The latest tipoff on Friday's schedule is this 10:30 p.m. matchup in Denver, which also will be shown on ESPN. Which Cavaliers team will show up? The Cavs were routed in Portland on Wednesday and then upset 102-100 in Utah on Wednesday in a probable letdown game. Utah's Gordon Hayward shook off the defense of LeBron James and hit the winning 21-foot jumper at the buzzer. LeBron had 31 points and Kyrie Irving 34, but Irving jacked up 23 shots. He's not supposed to be shooting more than LeBron. Speaking of guys who shoot too much, Cavs coach David Blatt demoted Dion Waiters from the starting lineup and went with Shawn Marion. Marion was scoreless in 24 minutes, while a clearly perturbed Waiters was just 1-for-4 in 13 minutes. Blatt already may have an issue on his hands with Waiters. When making your NBA picks keep in mind Denver is one of the NBA's worst defensive teams and has lost three straight. It allowed 131 points in a blowout defeat in Sacramento on Wednesday night.