Today’s NBA Projected Starting Lineups, Matchups, Injury News – 12/11/18

NBA Projected Starting Lineups

Injury News

Spurs: Dante Cunningham (abdomen) Probable

Suns: Devin Booker (hamstring) Out, Jamal Crawford (knee) Questionable

Clippers: Lou Williams (hamstring) Day to Day

Raptors: Norman Powell (shoulder) Out

Rockets: Marquese Chriss (ankle) Doubtful

Trail Blazers: None

Today’s NBA Matchups

There are only three matchups around the association tonight, and two of them will involve teams that played a surprisingly competitive game the night before. The Clippers needed overtime to outlast the lowly Suns last night, and both teams will be a bit over-tired entering their respective games against the Raptors and Spurs.

San Antonio Spurs (-12.5) vs. Phoenix Suns (+12.5)

Let’s start in San Antonio, where the 13-14 Spurs will face the 4-23 Suns for the third time this year. Popovich’s bunch has struggled through the first third of the season, integrating a ton of new pieces on a roster built around a star player who has gone elsewhere.

 

The defense has been near the league worst, and San Antonio has lost three of their last seven games by over 30 points. They even gave this Suns team their biggest win of the season, an embarrassing 20-point shellacking.

However, the Spurs are turning things around on this homestand so far. The defense is improving, and the offense is clicking at a higher level as the role players settle into their jobs.

There is still no timetable for Devin Booker’s return from a hamstring injury, and Deandre Ayton played 28 minutes in the overtime loss after missing practice the day before due to illness. The Spurs are undermanned as well, but they’ve gotten used to playing without Dejounte Murray and Pau Gasol.

Anything is possible in this league, but nothing less than a total decimation of this exhausted and genuinely bad Phoenix team will be acceptable for San Antonio. This should be an ugly game, and we might see the benches play more minutes than the starters.

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Toronto Raptors

On to Los Angeles, where the surprising 17-9 Clippers will take on the Raptors team that owns the league’s best record at 21-7. We finally get to see the marquee small forward matchup that every NBA fan has been waiting to see in LA: Kawhi Leonard vs. Tobias Harris.

In all seriousness, Harris is putting together a wonderful season and leading a Clippers team that everyone just kind of assumed would implode. He’s averaging 21.4 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, and dropped 33 and 8 last night in the overtime win.

Meanwhile, Leonard is making his case for MVP in Toronto. He’s averaging 26.1 points, 8.3 boards, and 3.0 assists per game, all while defending at an extremely high level.

Unfortunately, the overtime game last night turns this would-be-exciting game into a schedule loss for the Clips. At least they didn’t have to travel and get to play on their home floor, but the Raptors are rested and out for blood after suffering back-to-back losses in close games.

Houston Rockets (-6.5) vs. Trail Blazers (+6.5)

Tonight’s only game between two rested teams will be played in Houston, as the fledgling Rockets will host the Trail Blazers. It’s a matchup of explosive backcourts, and there probably won’t be much defense played.

Nobody expects this Rockets team to defend well, and they’re not, but the recent struggles on offense are hard to explain. In their last three games, all losses, they scored 104, 91, and 91. The Timberwolves held Houston to just 9 points (!!!) in the fourth quarter, and Utah kept them under 20 in two different quarters.

All of those ugly losses came on the road, but Houston is a measly 5-5 at home. Portland is coming off of two wins at home, and looking to improve their 5-7 away record. Everybody tends to shoot better in their own gym, but something about the Rockets defense makes opposing players feel right at home.

The Rockets are the second worst defensive rebounding team in the league, and Jusuf Nurkic averages four offensive boards per game. He’ll probably create a bunch of second chance opportunities for Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who average just under 50 points per game as a duo.

This will probably end up being the most competitive game of the night, and the total score might eclipse 240.

MVPs of the Night

DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge have a great matchup tonight, and maybe it’s too good to put up huge numbers. If all goes according to plan for San Antonio, they’ll both feast for about 25 minutes and then watch the rest of an easy win from the bench. Rudy Gay is coming off of 21 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, and he’ll figure to get in on the fun as well.

Jakob Poeltl is settling in and putting together a nice little December for himself, averaging 9.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in just 18 minutes per game. He should play more than that tonight, and the seven footer could break out for his first double double of the season.

The Rockets and Blazers will shoot it out in all likelihood, and for the most part it will be Damian Lillard and James Harden doing the shooting. A game like this at home is a perfect opportunity for Harden to dominate, but Lillard is actually averaging more points on the road this year. Both should go off tonight, and whoever wins the matchup will likely win the game.

The obvious choice for MVP of the night is Kawhi Leonard, playing in his hometown of Los Angeles. The Clippers have been very good this year, but they don’t have anyone who can contain the Klaw, especially on the second night of a back to back. Kawhi’s former teammate Boban Marjanovic has started the past two games at center for LA, and I do hope they meet each other at the rim at least once. Expect over 30 points from Leonard tonight in a Raptors win.

Daily previews of matchups to watch around the league, and film breakdowns of the best performance from the night before. Twitter @RealTomPetrini, Spurs interviews and analysis @projectspurs.

Hot NBA Stories