NBA Game Previews
Key notes from NBA game previews, on one page. Also see NBA daily recaps, NBA video highlights and daily stat leaders, as well as daily fantasy basketball notes.
NBA Game Previews for Friday, Dec. 19
Jazz at Magic, 7 p.m. ET -- STATS LLC reports: The Orlando Magic believe their time on the road has built chemistry, but they're excited to finally have an extended stay at home.
Orlando looks to avoid a third consecutive defeat as it begins a four-game homestand against the Utah Jazz on Friday night.
The Magic (10-18) have played by far the most road games in the league, going 7-12 in such contests after falling 95-82 at Toronto on Monday and 109-92 at Boston on Wednesday... Utah (7-19) is in the midst of a six-game road trip that ends at Memphis on Monday. Gordon Hayward had 29 points and seven assists while hitting 4 of 5 from 3-point range.
The Jazz tied their season high with 14 3-pointers on 25 attempts.
Hornets at Sixers, 7 p.m. ET -- STATS LLC reports: Lance Stephenson's disappointing start has led to rumors that the Charlotte Hornets already are trying to move him in the first season of a lucrative contract.
He can't do much to prove owner Michael Jordan's bold move to sign him wasn't a mistake while he's sidelined.
Stephenson is doubtful to play Friday night as the Hornets visit the Philadelphia 76ers with both clubs looking to end four-game losing streaks... "It's been rough for us, but we know we have a really good team," Walker said. "We just need to learn how to win."
The same goes for the young 76ers (2-22), who blew an 18-point lead in the final eight minutes of Saturday's 120-115 overtime loss to Memphis before falling 105-87 to Boston on Monday.
Timberwolves at Celtics, 7:30 p.m. ET -- STATS LLC reports: The Boston Celtics have finally cut the last remaining tether to their NBA Championship in 2008.
Rajon Rondo is gone.
Now in full-rebuild mode, the Celtics look for their third consecutive victory Friday night when they face the Minnesota Timberwolves, who seek their first win in Boston in almost a decade.
Rondo and forward Dwight Powell were dealt to Dallas on Thursday in exchange for Jameer Nelson, Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright, two draft picks and a $12.9 million trade exception.
Nets at Cavs, 7:30 p.m. ET -- STATS LLC reports: The Cleveland Cavaliers had their home winning streak snapped with their worst defeat of the season, which drew the ire of coach David Blatt and caused Kyrie Irving to put in some extra work.
As Irving looks to recover from one of his least productive efforts, Cleveland hopes to get back on track defensively while avoiding its fourth loss in five games Friday night against the visiting Brooklyn Nets.
The Cavaliers believed they solved their early struggles on the defensive end, limiting opponents to 91.6 points on 43.6 percent shooting during an eight-game winning streak. Those concerns, however, have resurfaced after they gave up 109.3 and a 52.0 field-goal percentage while dropping three of their last four... The Cavaliers may be able to tighten things up defensively against a Brooklyn team that has reached 100 points once in its last 13 games. They Nets have scored 89.3 per game on 42.5 percent shooting while dropping five of seven.
Raptors at Pistons, 7:30 p.m. ET -- STATS LLC reports: The Toronto Raptors are still seeking improvement even though they own the Eastern Conference's best record.
The Detroit Pistons are near the other end of the standings amid their worst single-season home losing streak in nearly half a century.
The Raptors will be in search of a fifth straight victory Friday night when they try to extend the Pistons' home slide to 12 games.
Toronto (20-6) posted a 105-89 home win over Brooklyn on Wednesday, gaining a measure of revenge against the team that knocked it out of the playoffs a season ago.
Wizards at Heat, 7:30 p.m. ET -- STATS LLC reports: With John Wall directing the offense, the Washington Wizards have been difficult to slow down while compiling their best record in over 35 years.
That certainly isn't a good sign for a Miami Heat team that has struggled to defend opponents on its own floor.
Wall and the Southeast Division-leading Wizards look to add to their longest winning streak of the season Friday night when they try to send Miami to its longest home losing streak in almost seven years... Behind Wall, the Wizards (18-6) are averaging 106.7 points and an NBA-best 28.1 assists while shooting 49.0 percent -- including a league-high 43.4 from 3-point range -- in nine games this month.
Bulls at Grizzlies, 8 p.m. ET -- STATS LLC reports: Even a brutal stretch against quality opponents hasn't slowed the Memphis Grizzlies, who have extended the best start in franchise history with yet another winning streak.
Memphis again will be tested by a pair of Eastern Conference contenders beginning Friday night at home against a Chicago Bulls team hoping to have Derrick Rose back.
The Grizzlies (21-4) are seeking a season-best seventh straight victory, though the last two haven't come easy. They ended Golden State's 16-game winning streak Tuesday with a 105-98 victory, then defeated San Antonio 117-116 in three overtimes the next night... The Grizzlies have gone 14-2 against the much deeper West and have faced only one Eastern team that currently has a record above .500, losing 96-92 at Toronto on Nov. 19.
That will change with this matchup against Chicago (16-9) before Memphis travels to face Cleveland and LeBron James on Sunday. The Grizzlies are 7-2 against the East.
Trail Blazers at Spurs, 8 p.m. ET -- STATS LLC reports: The Portland Trail Blazers may have defeated the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week, but Robin Lopez was lost in the process.
Thomas Robinson looks to pick up the slack again Friday night when the Northwest Division-leading Trail Blazers return to San Antonio for the first time since being ousted in last season's playoffs.
Portland (20-6) was eliminated in five games by the Spurs in the second round and was outscored by an average of 19.5 points in those defeats, falling 104-82 in the decisive game at AT&T Center... San Antonio has dropped four of six, losing 117-116 in triple overtime to Memphis on Wednesday after Manu Ginobili shot an airball in the final seconds.
"We fought hard," guard Danny Green said. "We were down 20 for most of the first half; came back. They went on another run in the third quarter; came back. We showed a lot of character. It's going to take awhile for us to recover from this, but we've bounced back from tougher situations."
Clippers at Nuggets, 9 p.m. ET -- STATS LLC reports: It's been a streaky season so far for the Denver Nuggets, whose current stretch is definitely not a good one.
The Nuggets seek only their second win in more than two weeks Friday night at home against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Denver (10-15) opened the season with seven losses in its first nine games before a 7-1 stretch put the Nuggets one game over .500 after a win at Utah on Dec. 1... Los Angeles (18-7) enters this contest coming off back-to-back wins, rebounding from its first consecutive defeats of the season Dec. 12-13. Blake Griffin scored 31 points and DeAndre Jordan has 23 rebounds in Wednesday's 102-100 victory over Indiana.
Jordan's rebounding performance marked a season high for the seventh-year center and was one shy of a career best set March 31 against Minnesota.
Thunder at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET -- STATS LLC reports: The Oklahoma City Thunder certainly remember what a Kevin Durant injury meant for them earlier this season.
The Thunder could be without the NBA's reigning MVP again Friday night when they try to continue their success against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Durant broke his right foot in the preseason and missed the first 17 games, leaving Oklahoma City (12-14) without its biggest offensive weapon. The Thunder won only five of those games, and averaged 90.9 points on 42.2 percent from the floor... The Lakers are coming off their worst shooting performance of the season, making 33 percent from the floor while trailing by as many as 39 points in Monday's 110-91 loss at Indiana, ending a season-best three-game win streak.