Knicks at Suns | Mon., Dec. 15, 9 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
Coach Mike D'Antoni returns to Phoenix with his new team, while his old team continues to search for its identity in the post-seven-seconds-or-less era.
2 of 8Greg Nelson/SI
Nuggets at Rockets | Tues., Dec. 16, 8:30 p.m.
If, as expected, Ron Artest returns on this night from a sprained ankle, then the Rockets will have Artest and fellow small forward Shane Battier together for the first time this season. That means Artest could come off the bench and become a go-to scorer in the second unit, while Battier serves as a complementary three-point shooter and defensive stopper alongside Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming in the starting lineup.
3 of 8Damian Strohmeyer/SI
Celtics at Hawks | Wed., Dec. 17, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
Boston needed Paul Pierce's go-ahead fadeaway with 0.5 seconds left to beat Atlanta in the teams' first meeting this season, on Nov. 12, when the Hawks' perfect start (6-0) ended. Now the Celtics visit Atlanta for the first time since losing all three matchups there in the first round of the playoffs last season. Hawks forward Josh Smith is back after missing the November game in Beantown with a sprained ankle.
4 of 8Greg Nelson/SI
Spurs at Hornets | Wed., Dec. 17, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
The Western contenders meet for the first time since San Antonio won Game 7 of last season's conference finals series in New Orleans. With Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili having returned from ankle injuries, the Spurs were riding a six-game winning streak entering this visit to the Big Easy.
5 of 8AP
Spurs at Magic | Thurs., Dec. 18, 8 p.m. (TNT)
San Antonio completes a difficult road back-to-back in Orlando, where the Magic begin a four-game homestand that also includes a contest later this week against the Lakers (Dec. 20, 7 p.m. ET). If the matchups break right, the chess game between Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard will be intriguing to watch.
6 of 8AP
Mavericks at Nets | Fri., Dec. 19, 7:30 p.m.
Jason Kidd will play his first game in New Jersey since being dealt to Dallas at the trade deadline last season. While Kidd had a terrific run with New Jersey, Nets fans aren't exactly lamenting his absence considering how well his replacement, Devin Harris, has played at point guard. Harris, the other key part of the Nets-Mavs trade, has joined with Vince Carter to form the NBA's highest-scoring backcourt.
7 of 8Jeff Lewis/Icon SMI
Lakers at Heat | Fri., Dec. 19, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Individual matchups don't get much better than Kobe Bryant vs. Dwyane Wade. That's especially the case now that Wade is healthy again and playing like an MVP candidate in leading the NBA in scoring and averaging better than seven assists and five rebounds a game.
8 of 8Elsa/Getty Images
Knicks at Celtics | Sun., Dec. 21, 6 p.m.
Quentin Richardson (left) remains unimpressed with the Celtics. Last season, a day before a visit in Boston, he downplayed the Celtics' hot start; the Knicks then lost by 45 points in a nationally televised game. Last month, after another Knicks loss at Boston, Richardson questioned the defending champions' toughness. New York, incidentally, has lost seven consecutive games in the series.
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