Five Things to Keep an Eye on in the NBA Tonight, Including a Possible Iverson Debut

5 Things ... gives you some insight into some things to look out for on important nights in the NBA.

With 13 games on the slate tonight, there's a lot to keep an eye out for. Here are the big five we came up with.

1. Former Pistons and Their Physicals:
Normally no one really cares about Cheikh Samb's kidneys and spine (outside of his Mom, I'm sure. I mean, everyone hopes they're okay, but it's just not a real big topic, you know?). But if the pieces being sent to Denver in the Allen Iverson trade don't get their physicals completed in time, it means we'll have to wait on Iverson to join to the Pistons on the floor, and that makes tonight's game against the Raptors a lot less exciting.

If the particulars do get taken care of, this could be a huge game. Iverson would go up against Jose Calderon who has the Raptors feeling pretty confident. Even without Iverson, though, this game features a stunning array of matchups that the Pistons seem to have a slight advantage in, but may be countered by the star power of Chris Bosh and Jermaine O'Neal. Iverson would definitely tip the game to Detroit's favor, but even then, you don't know how he'll immediately mesh with the offense. Keep your eyes affixed to see if Iverson plays tonight, because this is an immediate test for both teams.

(Update: Looks like he definitely won't play tonight, which means this one leans slightly Toronto's way. Rodney Stuckey, here's your big chance to earn even more minutes.)

2. The Evolving Identity of Joe Johnson: The Hawks have a lot more to gain tonight than the Hornets have to lose. New Orleans has already proven they haven't lost a step since last season, tackling opponents even without Tyson Chandler who returns tonight. Atlanta, on the other hand, can take a step towards showing that Josh Childress bolting for Greece wasn't a biggie, and that they may have actually improved since last season. Leading the way is Joe Johnson, who's leading the league in scoring average. With Josh Smith continuing his stat stuffing ways and Al Horford anchoring the interior, this Hawks team looks pretty feisty. Consider tonight a preliminary "fairy tale tester." If the Hawks want to run with the Hornets, they've got to be efficient, which means Joe Johnson has to make the most of his ISO possessions against Mo Peterson, and Mike Bibby and Acie Law have to keep Paul from racking up double digit assists. The Hawks can hang with Paul as a scorer. It becomes a much greater challenge when David West starts nailing the pick and pop.

3. You Might Actually Want to Watch the Grizzlies: I know, I know. Just hear me out. The Grizzlies are 2-2, and hung with a very good Rockets squad in their first game. This team has a certain energy around them that is unique unto themselves and are really pretty entertaining to watch. The biggest change has been on the defensive end, where a renewed commitment to defensive effort has resulted in the Grizzlies actually being 11th in turnover margin and third in points allowed. Memphis features several players capable of having breakout nights, the most recent being rookie Marc Gasol who exploded with 27 points and 16 rebounds against Golden State. With O.J. Mayo still waiting for a great game and Mike Conley learning the offense game by game, Memphis has been much better than predicted through four whole games. You might want to catch them now against Sacramento before reality sets in again. Oh, and Kevin Martin's dreamy, too.

4. Potential Has to Be Fulfilled to Mean Anything: Most underwhelming team so far? Portland. The San Antonio win would look a lot better if the Spurs weren't profoundly terrible right now without Manu Ginobili. Tonight the Blazers get Utah who is not struggling with Deron Williams out, and there's a slight chance Williams might play. If Brandon Roy doesn't get in gear and start playing superstar ball and the rest of the young 'uns make good on all that potential, this team's going to be in a whole. This isn't a veteran team that can start slow and finish strong. It needs to build confidence and a good start to that would be knocking off Utah tonight.

5. Now Would Be a Great Time to Unlog the Logjam, Vinny: The Bulls haven't played bad. They really haven't. And Derrick Rose is a lot better a lot sooner than most people thought he would be. Unfortunately, they're having issues with sorting out minutes and just trusting the rookie to be the man, as a lot of Bulls fans think he should be. I can kind of see where Del Negro's at with this, the kid has only played less than a handful of NBA games. But when they drafted this kid, they made a commitment to the fanbase as having him be the savior of the franchise. Their only recourse is to give him that opportunity. And that means not giving Ben Gordon or Kirk Hinrich the ball at the end of games. On paper, Bulls-Cavs could be a pretty tough matchup, with the Bulls young explosive frontcourt and Rose, but right now Cleveland looks like one of the East's elite, and it'll take an absolutely dynamite game from Rose to counteract the King. Or one of the Cavs' patented shooting slumps. You know, whichever.

Five Things to Keep an Eye on in the NBA Tonight, Including a Possible Iverson Debut originally appeared on NBA FanHouse on Wed, 05 Nov 2008 17:46:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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