Eleven games are slated for Wednesday night’s NBA schedule, including three contests that have some rather interesting storylines. The Cleveland Cavaliers host the San Antonio Spurs, the Los Angeles Lakers travel to Houston to face the Rockets, and the Milwaukee Bucks meet the Nets in Brooklyn, in games that are expected to draw interest in still the early portion of the season.
All three games are intriguing, but for very different reasons. The Cavs and Spurs are two of the NBA’s best teams, and they could be on a collision course to meet in the 2015 NBA Finals. The Lakers and Rockets aren’t likely to face off in any meaningful games, but the rivalry that exists between former teammates has built interest around Wednesday’s game. In Brooklyn, a head coach returns after bolting from the Nets after one season.
Below is a closer look at the three contests.
Cavaliers vs. Spurs
LeBron James will take on the team against whom he played his final game, as a member of the Miami Heat. The four-time MVP averaged 28.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists in the NBA Finals, as San Antonio won its fifth title in 15 years. In the previous season, he helped the Heat beat the Spurs in seven games.
With James back with the Cavs, Wednesday’s matchup could be a preview of the NBA Finals. Adding James and Kevin Love to a core of young players that is led by Kyrie Irving has made Cleveland the favorite to win the championship. San Antonio remains the favorite in the West, having brought back its top 10 scorers from last season.
While expectations remain high, both teams have struggled in the early going. The Cavs are just one game above .500, and their top stars are still learning to play together. James shot less than 42 percent from the field in his first five games, and there have been rumors that he’s been unhappy with the way Irving has played.
The Spurs are currently the No.7 seed in the West, and they have had trouble with the difficult part of their schedule, going 3-4 against winning teams. Two of their victories have come against the teams with the two worst records in the NBA.
Lakers vs. Rockets
It was just two seasons ago that the Lakers and Rockets battled for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference, but the clubs have gone in completely opposite directions since then. Los Angeles has been the worst team in the conference, winning just two of 11 games. Houston owns the NBA’s second-best record at 9-2.
The two teams began to see major changes when Dwight Howard left L.A. for Houston in the summer of 2013. In their first year with the big man, the Rockets saw a nine-win improvement, while the Lakers won 18 fewer games than the year before.
There have been no shortage of rumors that Kobe Bryant and Howard didn’t get along as teammates, and the players certainly haven’t gotten along as rivals. The two All-Stars had an altercation in the season opener, and Bryant was caught by TV cameras calling Howard “soft” among other comments.
Howard could have a big game against his former team, but he’ll be playing while having to deal with issues off the court. He is reportedly under investigation for hitting his son with a belt. Howard was initially cleared of child abuse charges, but the case has been reopened by authorities in Cobb County, Georgia.
Jeremy Lin will also face his former team in his return to Houston as a visiting player. The point guard, who was traded from the Rockets to the Lakers this past summer, made just one of five shot attempts against Houston on Oct. 28. However, the 26-year-old is coming off one of his best games with Los Angeles, posting 15 points and 10 assists in a victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night.
Bucks vs. Nets
The Bucks boast among the most exciting rookies in the NBA, but much of the pregame attention has focused on head coach Jason Kidd and not forward Jabari Parker. Kidd, who made his head coaching debut in 2013-2014 with the Nets, moved on from the organization after just one season. The former All-Star point guard played with the Nets between 2001 and 2008, and was considered an important mentor for current point guard Deron Williams last season.
The results were mixed for Kidd in his one season with Brooklyn. Kidd inherited the most expensive roster in the NBA, yet the team won just 44 games in the regular season. However, the Nets upset the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
The Bucks currently own a 6-5 record, while the Nets have won four out of 10 games.