Ahead of this weekend’s NBA primetimes, which sees the Boston Celtics host the San Antonio Spurs for NBA Saturdays and the Denver Nuggets host the Minnesota Timberwolves for NBA Sundays, we give game previews.
Boston Celtics @ San Antonio Spurs – Saturday, Nov. 9
REASONS TO WATCH
• Three-time All-Star Kemba Walker has joined a talented Celtics squad that includes two precocious young wings in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward, who is looking to regain his 2017 All-Star form.
• The Spurs are quietly succeeding at remaining competitive while building for the future. Perennial All-Stars LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan are still playing at a high level while youngsters Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, Bryn Forbes and Jakob Poeltl develop into quality players.
• The task of slowing down Kemba Walker will rest with several Spurs, including 2017-18 NBA All-Defensive guard Dejounte Murray, who missed last season while recovering from a torn ACL. Murray is off to a strong start this season playing under a minutes restriction.
• Boston’s Jayson Tatum is an enormously talented offensive player who is just starting to come into his own. Few players have Tatum’s breadth of skills, which the 21-year-old complements with a fierce work ethic.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
• Jaylen Brown, Celtics: Brown is a versatile defender with an improving offensive game. He recently signed a contract extension with the Celtics.
• Marcus Smart, Celtics: Smart is the heart and soul of the Celtics. Few players can match his competitive spirit. Smart played for the U.S. Team in the FIBA Basketball World Cup this summer.
• Derrick White, Spurs: White, a former Division II player, followed an impressive second NBA season by competing with USA Basketball at the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
• Bryn Forbes, Spurs: The undrafted Forbes has developed into one the league’s most dangerous three-point shooters.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Celtics 7-5 rookie Tacko Fall, who was born in Senegal, carried a 4.0 GPA at Central Florida
• Derrick White played three seasons at Division II Colorado-Colorado Springs before transferring to the University of Colorado for his senior season.
• Boston’s Brad Wanamaker was a standout player in France, Turkey and Germany prior to joining the Celtics in 2018.
• DeMar DeRozan recently became the 12th active player to reach the 15,000-point plateau.
• Gordon Hayward was a two-time All-State tennis player in high school.
Denver Nuggets @ Minnesota Timberwolves – Sunday, Nov. 10
REASONS TO WATCH
• Nikola Jokic (Serbia) and Karl-Anthony Towns are two of the most talented big men in recent memory. Jokic was a first-time All-Star and center on the All-NBA First Team last season. Towns played in his second consecutive All-Star Game last season and is off to a brilliant start in 2019-20.
• After winning 54 games last season and coming within one victory of the Western Conference Finals, the Nuggets have realistic hopes of reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since joining the league in 1976-77.
• Jamal Murray is only starting to scratch the surface of how good he can be. The 22-year-old from Canada averaged a career-high 18.2 points per game last season. He is a gifted shot-maker who thrives in pressure situations.
• Andrew Wiggins (Canada) is a supreme athlete capable of having big scoring outbursts. The former number one overall pick recently scored 16 points in the final six minutes of a win over the Miami Heat.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Gary Harris, Nuggets: Harris is one of the league’s most underrated players, bringing consistent effort and affecting the game at both ends.
Paul Millsap, Nuggets: Millsap, who played in four straight All-Star games (2014-17) with the Hawks, continues to be a versatile and reliable performer for the Nuggets.
Robert Covington, Timberwolves: Covington was slowed by injury during his first season with the Timberwolves. The 2017-18 NBA All-Defensive First Team selection is looking to regain his form.
Jarrett Culver, Timberwolves: The sixth pick in the 2019 NBA Draft has great positional size and versatility to complement Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Minnesota’s Josh Okogie was the only player from Nigeria on an opening-night roster this season.
• Ryan Saunders is the NBA’s youngest active head coach and the son of the late Flip Saunders, the winningest coach in Timberwolves history.
• Denver’s Jerami Grant is the son of former NBA player Harvey Grant.
• Bol Bol, who is on a two-way contract with the Nuggets, is the son of the late NBA center Manute Bol.
• Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. was coached in high school by former NBA All-Star Brandon Roy.