The NBA gave fans a great week of basketball in the second week of the 2013-14 season. There were a few upsets, a couple of comebacks, and plenty of matchups that made the fans rise to their feet and go wild. Week 2 in the NBA season proved there is nothing predictable in basketball. There are 52 games in the schedule this week (Monday-Sunday). What are the five must-see games of Week 3? Let’s find out.
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5. Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Washington Wizards
Saturday, November 16, 2013, 7:00 PM ET
Verizon Center, Washington, D.C.
You are probably thinking, why is a game featuring two teams below .500 (as of now) a must-watch matchup? While both Cleveland and Washington have started the season slow, the fact that each team carries young point guards who are on the verge of breaking into the elite status in the NBA cannot and should not be ignored. Kyrie Irving and John Wall are in similar situations, as they are both are considered the leader of squads and are expected to propel their teammates to playoff appearances. While Irving has outplayed Wall in just about every category during his last two seasons in the league, this positional matchup will likely be the most even battle going into the game as both are healthy and now NBA experienced.
While this game will be highlighted by the point guard battle, the contest will likely come down to how involved each of the former first picks get their teammates involved. Both Irving (Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao) and Wall (Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster, Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat) have depth, finishers and skilled shooters around them for easy opportunities. Both Irving and Wall excel in the passing department, while Wall has improved his shooting accuracy immensely (although Irving remains the better shooter). The 21-year-old Irving and 23-year-old Wall have been heavily compared since they were drafted as the first pick in back-to-back draft years. So whenever these two rising stars face each other on the court, eyes will be watching.
Key Positional Matchup: Kyrie Irving vs. John Wall
4. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Golden State Warriors
Thursday, November 14, 2013, 10:30 PM EST
ORACLE Arena, Oakland, CA
Well, this should be fun. Two highly offensive-minded teams face off on the second leg of TNT’s Thursday night NBA showcase. Golden State is posting 102.6 points per game while OKC is scoring 102.2 points per game (as of Monday). So far this season, the Warriors have improved defensively with a 92.0 defensive efficiency rating per ESPN (second in the NBA) while the Thunder hold a 97.6 defensive efficiency rating (tied for eighth in the NBA). Led by the best shooting backcourt in the league in Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, the Warriors are a highly efficient shooting team in general with an effective field goal percentage of 55 percent (second-best in the NBA). Meanwhile, OKC has dropped in shooting efficiency due to the absence in the opening week of Russell Westbrook, who is also slow to get back into form.
The Warriors’ matchup against the Memphis Grizzles during Week 2 showed an apparent weakness in Golden State’s game: defending the paint. The Warriors are arguably the best perimeter team in the NBA, but can easily buckle under the pressure if the opposing team forces the ball down low consistently. Therefore, lookout for OKC to post up Kevin Durant and play inside out to take advantage of this weakness. On the other side, lookout for Golden State to shoot the long ball as OKC gives up 37 percent from the 3-point line to opponents (17th in the NBA). Expect a ton of offense in this matchup between two growing powerhouses.
Key Positional Matchup: Kevin Durant vs. Andre Iguodala
3. Indiana Pacers vs. Chicago Bulls
Saturday, November 16, 2013, 8:00 PM ET
United Center, Chicago, IL
The Chicago Bulls and Indiana Pacers square off against each other for the second time already in this early NBA season. This time this division rivalry showdown heads to the Windy City. During the last battle between these two defensive-minded squads, the game resulted in a comeback in the final quarter by the Pacers bench. Derrick Rose struggled offensively during the Bulls’ Week 2 matchup against the Pacers, scoring only three of his 17 total points in 12 minutes in the second half, as he spent the first half of the fourth quarter on the bench. Meanwhile the Pacers bench, led by Lance Stephenson, Luis Scola and Donald Sloan, stole the show in this battle and helped the Pacers take the lead in the final 12 minutes and eventually leave the Bulls in the dust. Paul George had a great offensive night while Roy Hibbert continued his campaign for a Defensive Player of the Year nod.
Since the first matchup between these two division rivals is so fresh in the memories of every player, the hype surrounding this game is heightened. The atmosphere between these two teams is very intense, and the physicality that was shown on the court during Week 2 is only a precursor of what to expect on Saturday night. Chicago will certainly be playing for revenge, especially on their home turf. If you want to see intense, physical basketball, then circle this game on your calendar.
Key Positional Matchup: Paul George vs. Luol Deng
2. Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Saturday, November 16, 2013, 10:30 PM ET
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
Both the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers loaded up their roster this summer, which accelerated their expectations for the season. However, what makes this matchup so intriguing is the coach on the L.A. sidelines, Doc Rivers. On Saturday, Rivers will be facing the two former Celtics that were at the forefront on his success in Boston, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, for the first time since his departure from Beantown. While many assumed that Garnett and Pierce would be in tow once Rivers agreed to become the new head coach of the Clippers this past summer, the two veterans made their way to Brooklyn, shifting even more focus and attention away from their city rivals, the Knicks.
Expect to see Brooklyn pound the ball down low to Brook Lopez and Garnett, as Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan continue to struggle against talented post players. As of Monday, the Clips give up 47.1 points in the paint per game, 27th in the NBA. On the other end of the court, expect the Clippers to use their offensive weapons, especially sharpshooter J.J. Redick, to let loose from beyond the arc as the Nets tend to give up a solid percentage at the three-point line to opponents. Brooklyn needs to remain defensive all 48 minutes, especially in transition, since the Clips can put up a ton of numbers on the scoreboard in no time at all if CP3 is given the open court. It should also be interesting to watch if Doc Rivers‘ defensive prowls that defined the Garnett/Pierce era in Boston will start to surface in L.A. as the Clips have struggled defensively so far this season.
Key Positional Matchup: Kevin Garnett vs. Blake Griffin
1. Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Wednesday, November 13, 2013 10:30 PM EST
STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA
It is only the third week into the season, but Wednesday’s matchup between OKC and the Clippers could be a preview of the top-two seeded teams in the Western Conference come April of next year. If you want to see two offensive juggernauts battling it out in the fast break and from downtown, then this is your game. This matchup features two points guards that are opposites of each other as far as their game, as CP3 is a pass-first player while Westbrook is a ball-dominant type of point guard. Yet, the 2012 Olympic teammates both have the honor of belonging to the elite status.
While Jared Dudley, Matt Barnes or even Blake Griffin simply cannot stop the power that is Kevin Durant, OKC’s game will likely come down to the effectiveness of Russell Westbrook, who is struggling with his shooting thus far this season coming off offseason surgery. In addition, Westbrook has the daunting task of limiting Chris Paul and his brilliant playmaking. While it could be easily forecasted for the superstars of each team to dominate the game, this match will likely come down to key possessions of getting their teammates involved and crucial defensive stops late in the game. East Coasters will definitely want to stay up for this Western battle on Wednesday night as it is sure to be an offensive showdown.
Key Positional Matchup: Russell Westbrook vs. Chris Paul
What do you think?
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