Game Guide: Cunningham vs. Green, Bulls face red-hot Nets, Lakers-Spurs rematch

Published November 8, 2021, 3:00 PMMiguel Flores

This year's top two draftees Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green will go up against each other for the first time this season.

Are the Bulls legit?

Brooklyn Nets vs Chicago Bulls: Nov. 9, 9:00 AM on NBA League Pass

The Eastern Conference looks loaded three weeks into the season, thanks to the rise of a couple of exciting teams. The Bulls have made the most of their offseason moves and have, so far, looked like they belong in the upper crust of teams with a 6-3 record. The Nets – the preseason title favorites – have shaken off early rust and have won their last five games for a 7-3 slate.

To be a contender, you have to beat the contender. Is the Bulls’ combination of Demar DeRozan, Zach LaVine, and Nikola Vucevic enough to get over Brooklyn’s MVP pairing of Kevin Durant and James Harden? This early season matchup should have a heavy playoff vibe.

No. 1 pick meets No. 2

Houston Rockets vs Detroit Pistons: Nov. 11, 8:30 AM on NBA League Pass

The 2021 Draft is already shaping up to be one of the best draft classes ever, and that’s with its top two picks having relatively shaky starts to their careers.

For the first time in the NBA, No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham and the Detroit Pistons meet the No. 2 pick Jalen Green and the Houston Rockets. These two have been battling it out for the top spot in prospect rankings since they were high school sophomores. Now, they’re in the pros tasked with reviving their own franchises.

Cunningham missed the first two weeks of the season due to an ankle sprain, but has been slowly getting into shape as he gets more NBA games under his belt. Green had games where he went for 30 and 25 points, but also had four games where he failed to score in double-digits.

Such is to be expected for rookie NBA guards. But don’t be surprised if both have breakout games against each other on Thursday. The fun Cunningham-Green rivalry started in AAU and it will have its best chapters in the NBA.

Freddy V visits Joel in Philly

Toronto Raptors vs Philadelphia 76ers: Nov. 12, 8:00 AM on One Sports

Under Nick Nurse’s funky coaching and Fred VanVleet's never-say-die leadership, the Toronto Raptors have been a feisty bunch this season. Philadelphia had everyone talking about what’s happening outside the court, but has been genuinely splendid on the court, despite the drama and injuries to key players.

The Raptors are 6-5, but are starting to figure things out. VanVleet and OG Anunoby got some early help from rookie Scottie Barnes. The return of Pascal Siakam should also give them plenty of reprieve from heavy offensive lifting as the season moves forward. Philly might not have Ben Simmons, but the emergence of a deep bench has allowed Joel Embiid to flourish. It says a lot about Philly’s depth that they’ve weathered the absence of Tobias Harrias and Danny Green and are currently on top of the East with an 8-2 slate.

Regardless of where both teams stand now, every win in the loaded Eastern Conference will make a difference moving forward. Besides, whenever these two teams meet, it’s almost always a great game.

Western rivals down bad

Los Angeles Lakers vs San Antonio Spurs: Nov. 15, 4:30 AM on NBA TV Philippines via Smart GigaPlay app or Cignal TV

The Filipinos’ two favorite teams are each looking shaky to start the season.

It’s understandable for the Spurs. After years of postseason success, Gregg Popovich is finally shifting gears, developing his young, unproven roster. They’ve been allergic to rebuilding, but the time has come for San Antonio to be future-proof.

The Lakers, on the other hand, are supposed to be contenders. The 2020 champions traded for Russell Westbrook and signed the “Ghosts of All-Star Games Past” to forge a postseason juggernaut of a team. It seems that the squad is already looking forward to the playoffs, without considering that they need to win a considerable number of the 82 regular season games before they make it there. Injuries to key players have been rough, but trying to find chemistry with the volatile Westbrook has also been a major issue for Los Angeles.

These two already met earlier this season with the Lakers barely escaping San Antonio in overtime. Los Angeles again won’t have LeBron James. No matter who's playing, both these franchises have a level of disdain for each other from years of playoff battles. Make room for this game during your early morning coffee routine.