James Harden hits tough matchup with Blazers
by Adi Joseph, USA TODAY Sports
Four top story lines for Saturday night’s 10-game NBA slate:
Will James Harden continue his absurd run?
Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets, 8 p.m. ET: Harden clearly had a lot to prove after being traded to the Rockets a week ago. He was passed over in favor of three other young stars by the Oklahoma City Thunder. Then he signed a big deal with the Rockets before his debut. His first two games produced obscene numbers, though: 37 points, 12 assists, six rebounds and four steals at the Detroit Pistons and 45 points on 14-for-19 shooting and seven rebounds at the Atlanta Hawks. The Rockets are 2-0 as they make their home debut, but the matchup will be more difficult this time. Blazers guard Wesley Matthews is long, athletic and strong, and he plays defense with good intensity.
Who are the Brooklyn Nets?
Toronto Raptors at Nets, 7:30 p.m. ET: The last team to play its season opener also is among the most mysterious in the NBA. The Nets revamped their roster, building around holdovers Deron Williams and Brook Lopez. Will Joe Johnson resume his propensity for firing up ill-advised shots? Will Williams be allowed to forgo scoring with his better teammates and become a creator again? Is Brook Lopez ready to become an elite offensive center, which he’s been on the cusp of for years? Oh, and where Brooklyn at? How will the turnout be in the Sandy-ravaged borough?
Can the Boston Celtics remember how to defend?
Celtics at Washington Wizards, 7 p.m. ET: The Celtics are good at defense. That’s been a common string in their success the previous five seasons. Now they’re 0-2 and have allowed the most points and points per possession in the NBA this season. It’s too early to panic, but the small frontcourt probably isn’t helping things. The Wizards are a good matchup, as Nene is out and they lack other big men to test Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass.
How much does Tim Duncan have in the tank?
Utah Jazz at San Antonio Spurs, 8:30 p.m. ET: The 36-year-old has been the best player on the court as the … [For more on James Harden, unstoppable so far, hits tough matchup with Blazers, click here.]