By Jalon Dixon, Columnist
While for most, Halloween is about pumpkin carving, candy collecting, and scary costumes, the NBA looks to bring something even more spooky with three monster matchups where any player could go off for a terrifying performance.
The first game of the night starts off with an Eastern Conference matchup between the Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks at 7 p.m. The Heat will be bringing their costumes on the road as they look to have a big night in Phillips Arena and maybe even play a few tricks in the process. Two players for the Heat to watch out for in this game are guards Justise Winslow and Tyler Herro.
For Winslow, he has been the result of a Frankenstein experiment ever since last year, playing mostly point guard despite being listed as a small/power forward coming out of Duke in 2015. At 6’ 6”, Winslow will be towering over opposing point guard Trae Young and could pose problems for him defensively.
In the case of Herro, he has been in a “Veteran NBA Player” costume since being drafted. The man has not looked like a rookie at all so far this season and has brought a new edge to this Heat team with his ability to shoot the ball at a high clip. Both players look to get a treat of their own with a win against a potential playoff team.
On the other side is Young and the Atlanta Hawks. Young did his best Stephen Curry impersonation posting a stat line of 38 points and nine assists in the season opener against the Detroit Pistons. Young looks to bring the Curry back out as he faces a long, aggressive Heat team that could be his worst nightmare when it comes to the defensive side of the ball.
Two other players to highlight for the Hawks are the twin towers in small forward Jabari Parker and power forward John Collins. You can expect at least one of these two to provide us with some Hulk smash-type dunks with their over the top athleticism above the rim. This should be a good game between two contrasting teams.
The second matchup takes us over to the West where the Denver Nuggets will take on the New Orleans Pelicans at 9:30 p.m. In this matchup, there is only one person you really need to watch out for. That is center Nikola Jokic aka Joker who might just paint his face and bring the tricks as the Nuggets look to steal a game on the road.
As a double-double machine at the center position, Jokic is already an anomaly in the league just off of his ability to facilitate so well despite being a big man. He gave the Nuggets a treat vs the Phoenix Suns recording a triple-double with 23 points, 14 rebounds, and 12 assists. Look for Jokic to have a big game as the Pelicans do not really have any great defenders at the center position between Jahlil Okafor and Jaxson Hayes.
For New Orleans, this is an early test in their schedule against a veteran-heavy Denver team that is in the championship conversation. Look for them to do what they do best by running the floor on the fast break and attacking the rim consistently, looking to get some easy buckets in the paint. This game should be an exciting shootout and could even come down to the wire if the Pelicans can keep it close going into the fourth quarter.
Lastly, Western Conference powerhouses collide as the San Antonio Spurs take on the Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m. With a stoic personality that has now been aired in a multitude of Terminator commercials, Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard is now addressed as “The Cyborg” and for good reason.
Coming off of a championship year with the Toronto Raptors, Leonard received his second Finals MVP and is now seen as a world-beater. Now with Los Angeles, he comes into this game as a cyborg with an agenda as he plans to haunt his old team in the Spurs, who he played with for seven seasons after being drafted by them in 2011.
In somewhat of a David vs Goliath matchup, San Antonio will have their hands full competing against the likes of Leonard and a deep Clippers bench consisting of players like guard Lou Williams and forward Montrezl Harrell. This game could be more trick than treat for the Spurs who have to deal with all this firepower while playing on the road in the Staples Center.
All three games feature marquee talent and even greater storylines. You can expect a few interesting pre-game costumes, some terrifying poster-dunks and a few big-time performances that could spook the rest of the league.