The NBA gave its fans a great week of basketball in the opening week of the 2013-14 season. There were several surprises, a couple of star comebacks, and a few early rivalry games. It sure is great to have the NBA back in full swing. There are 51 games in the schedule this week (Monday-Sunday). What are the top five must-see games of week two? Let’s find out.
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Chicago Bulls vs. Indiana Pacers
Wednesday, November 6, 2013, 7:00PM ET
Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
Chicago and Indiana are widely considered to be the two teams in the East that can prevent the Miami Heat from earning their fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals, and therefore, failing to three-peat. Derrick Rose had an up-and-down comeback last week, including hitting a game-winner against the New York Knicks, and reminded every basketball fan that the NBA is better with Rose on the court. Despite Rose, the Bulls struggled, losing to the back-to-back champion Miami Heat on opening night and the red-hot Philadelphia 76ers during the first week of the season. The Bulls’ offense must be in full swing if they want to overcome the defensive powerhouse of the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night.
The Pacers went 3-0 during the league’s opening week. Their defense has been superb to say the least, only giving up 83.7 points per game on 37.9 percent shooting (best in NBA) to opponents. However, the Pacers’ offense only posted 93.7 points per game (tied with Chicago for 20th in the NBA) on 44.0 percent shooting. The Pacers’ offense runs through superstar on the rise, Paul George, who is averaging 25.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists (all team-highs). This Eastern Conference showdown most likely won’t be pretty offensively, but two of the best defensive teams in the NBA will be showcased for a dirty battle in Indy.
Key Positional Matchup: Luol Deng vs. Paul George
Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Monday, November 4, 2013, 10:30 PM EST
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
Tonight’s matchup could be a preview of a possible Western Conference Finals series as Dwight Howard makes his first return to Staples Center after bolting from Los Angeles and signing with James Harden and the Houston Rockets in free agency this summer. Howard is facing a “no excuses” season, as he must produce for the young team in the Lone Star State. So far, he has been making his presence known in the best way he knows how: defense. The Rockets have only given up 93.7 points per game on 38.7 percent shooting, compared to 102.5 points last season. Howard is averaging 15.0 points, 17.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks while the team’s best player, James Harden, is averaging 26.0 points and 4.3 assists per game. A win for the Rockets tonight would be their best start since the 1996-97 season.
On the other side, the Clippers seemed to have shed the rust and dusted their shoulders off from the surprising loss to the Lakers (basically the Lakers’ bench) on opening night. They have won their last two games (Golden State and Sacramento) and their offense seems to be running in full gear. Chris Paul, who has recorded three double-doubles in all three games of the season, unsurprisingly leads the Clippers’ offense. Paul currently leads the league in combined points and assists per game with 27.7 and 12.0. However, Doc Rivers‘ defense has been slow to kick in with his new squad, as they are surrendering 110.7 points per game. Therefore, expect for this Western Conference duel to be an offensive shootout.
Key Positional Matchup: Dwight Howard vs. DeAndre Jordan
Golden State Warriors vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Monday, November 4, 2013, 7:00 PM ET
Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA
How ’bout those Sixers? For a team that was widely considered the worst team in the league this season and would be lucky to win 15 games, Philadelphia has started the season a perfect (3-0) in a trio of exhilarating games. On top of that, the Sixers haven’t beat poor teams, as they have topped the Miami Heat, Washington Wizards and Chicago Bulls (all playoff-caliber teams). Yes, it is early in the season. Yes, there is plenty of time left for tanking. But right now, the Sixers are the most entertaining team to watch in the NBA.
That is why Monday’s matchup between the Warriors and the Sixers is must-see basketball TV. Led by the “Splash Brothers” (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson), the loaded Warriors come into the City of Brotherly Love looking to snap a 5-game losing streak on the Sixers home court. To do so, the Warriors would have to find a way to extinguish the fire that is Michael Carter-Williams. The 11th pick of the 2013 Draft took the NBA by storm in its opening week, averaging 20.7 points, 9.0 assists and 4.3 steals per game. However, Philly’s surprising started is not all credited to MCW, as Spencer Hawes has been killing it, averaging 19.3 points and 11.3 rebounds on 64.9 percent shooting (all career-highs). Evan Turner has also been adding 23.0 points per contest.