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NBA Game Previews for December 17, 2017
December 17, 2017 at 3:30 PM ET

Kings Tangle With Raptors North of the Border

By Juan Carlos Blanco

The Sacramento Kings do battle with the Toronto Raptors at Air Canada Centre on Sunday afternoon. The Kings (9-19) have continued to struggle with consistency, as they come into Sunday's game with losses in four of the last six contests. Their most recent defeat came at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves by a 119-96 margin on Thursday night. George Hill led Sacramento with 16 points, a total he supplemented with three assists and two rebounds. Zach Randolph generated a near double-double of 15 points, nine rebounds, one assist and one steal. Kosta Koufos followed with a bench-leading 11 points and added eight rebounds and two assists. Buddy Hield was productive on the second unit as well with 10 points and three rebounds. Willie Cauley-Stein and Bogdan Bogdanovic posted matching nine-point tallies off the bench, with the former also supplying three rebounds, two assists and one block, and the latter registering six boards and three dimes. The Kings will list Malachi Richardson as questionable for Sunday's contest with an ankle injury, while De'Aaron Fox is doubtful due to a quadriceps bruise he suffered versus Minnesota. The Raptors (19-8) have been on a torrid stretch over their last nine games, as they've notched eight victories over that span. Their most impressive win during that stretch is also the most recent, a 120-87 dismantling of the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. DeMar DeRozan led the way with 31 points, three rebounds, one assist and two steals. Serge Ibaka managed 18 points, eight boards, two assists and one block. Jonas Valanciunas tallied 14 points, five rebounds and two blocks. Norman Powell and Jakob Poeltl co-led the bench with 11 points apiece. Powell also posted five rebounds and three assists, while Poeltl managed four boards, one assist, two blocks and one steal. Kyle Lowry contributed a 10-point, 12-assist, 10-rebound triple-double that also included four steals. The Raptors come into Sunday's game without any short-term injuries to report. Sunday's game will mark the second and final meeting between the teams this season. Toronto dominated Sacramento by a 102-87 score on Dec. 10.

Posted on December 16, 2017 at 11:39 PM ET      Updated on December 16, 2017 at 11:40 PM ET

December 17, 2017 at 4:00 PM ET

Surging Pistons Take On Struggling Magic

By Juan Pablo Aravena  

The Detroit Pistons will host the Orlando magic at Little Caesars Arena on Sunday afternoon. The Pistons (16-13) have struggled with consistency all season long, but it seems they are trending on the right direction now. They are currently riding a two-game winning streak following their 104-98 win against the Indiana Pacers on Friday, but the current streak comes following a seven-game losing skid that almost had them playing .500 ball. Four of their upcoming six games will be at home though, so they will have a good chance to turn around in the upcoming days. For what is worth, Detroit has a 10-6 record at home. Solid outings from players such as Tobias Harris (17.8 points per game) and Andre Drummond (14 points, 15.2 rebounds per game) would certainly help the Pistons. Drummond is coming off a huge 23-point, 13-rebound performance against Indiana. On the other hand, the Magic (11-19) have struggled badly of late. They are coming off a 88-95 loss against the Portland Trail Blazers, and that defeat extended their current losing skid to four games. If we expand the picture further, then the Magic have dropped six of their last eight during December. To make things more complicated, Orlando has a putrid 5-11 record on the road, and three of their next four contests will be away from home. Orlando needs to pick things up offensively, as they rank 13th in points per game (105.9) and 19th in points per possession (1.05) in the current term. The absence of key players such as Evan Fournier and Aaron Gordon - as both have missed time of late - has not helped the Magic, either. This will be the first meeting between both franchises this season. Orlando won three of four games in the 2016-17 campaign.

Posted on December 16, 2017 at 7:53 PM ET

December 17, 2017 at 6:00 PM ET

Surprise Teams Face Off in Pacers-Nets Matchup

By Joel Bartilotta

The Brooklyn Nets play host to the Indiana Pacers at Barclay's Center on Sunday. The Pacers (16-13) have lost two-straight headed into this matchup, but have been impressive aside from that. In fact, Indiana won four-straight prior to that short slump, as they have numerous youngsters breaking out. Most notably, Victor Oladipo, who has turned into one of the best scorers in the league this season. Oladipo leads this team with 24.4 points per game, as he's also providing 5.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game as well. That's easily the best season of his career and it's garnering him some serious all-star consideration. This roster is full of players having career years too, as Myles Turner, Domantas Sabonis and Darren Collison are all thriving in this new up-tempo offense. That's a heck of a core going forward and the Paul George trade is looking less and less like a burden on this franchise. The Nets (11-17) have also lost-two straight, but they're playing much better than many anticipated coming into the year. In fact, they were 5-3 across their previous eight games, as they've flirted with a ,500 record much deeper into the season than most expected. What makes this minor success all the more encouraging is the fact that they're doing it with their backcourt sidelined, as D'Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin are both out for significant periods of time due to differing leg injuries. That really hasn't hampered their offense at all surprisingly, as Brooklyn currently sit 10th in scoring. The defense is still way below par though, as the Nets rank 28th in points allowed. That's typical of a rebuilding team like this and there's still a long way to go for this franchise to fully recover from some poor trades in the past. Indiana won three of their four games over Brooklyn last season, including their one meeting this season, 140-131, on October 18.

Posted on December 16, 2017 at 9:19 PM ET      Updated on December 16, 2017 at 10:13 PM ET

December 17, 2017 at 6:00 PM ET

Cavs Visit D.C. On Second Night Of Back-to-Back

By Dan Bruno  

The Washington Wizards play host to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Capital One Arena on Sunday evening. This marks the second night of a back-to-back for the Cavaliers. They are coming off a solid home win over the Jazz and have won four straight overall. LeBron James has been playing great lately, including his triple-double performance in Saturday night's win. James is averaging 27.3 points, 10.1 assists and 9.4 rebounds over his last 10 games. Dwyane Wade has settled into his sixth-man role and is averaging 14.1 points and 4.2 assists, in 25 minutes per game over his last 10 games. The Cavs average 111.3 points per game, which is third highest in the league. They sit second place in the East, two games out of first. Meanwhile, this marks the third game of a four-game home stand for the Wizards (16-13). They are 2-0 so far on the home stand and are 8-5 at home this season. Otto Porter Jr. (thigh) left the last contest after only three minutes of action and remains questionable for Sunday's contest. John Wall has been solid, averaging 14.0 points and 4.5 assists in 29 minutes per game in two games since returning from injury. Bradley Beal leads the Wizards with an average of 23.6 points per game and has scored in double digits in his last nine straight games, including a 51-point performance a few games back. The Wizards hold fourth place in the East, four games out of third.

Posted on December 17, 2017 at 1:26 AM ET