FanHouse's NBA Guide
It seems I mention this regularly enough, but this is one of those seasons where everyone is vulnerable on the road, even the elite. In years past, teams like Dallas and Detroit absolutely dominated on the road as well as at home. But teams like Boston, L.A. and Cleveland are regularly getting beat by lesser teams out there. It's worth watching (on TNT), especially when the three Celtics stars are a day from Phoenix.
We may consider the Big Three strictly professional, but the run-up to All-Star Weekend always turns everything wacky; some of the league's weirdest results happen the last two days before All-Star Friday. Must be excitement for the Celebrity Game.
It should go without saying that Dallas desperately needs Dirk Nowitzki to rock tonight. Without Jason Terry, Boston's defense should be able to squelch the Maverick complements.Portland at Golden State, 10:30 PM ET
The entire West will be fun to watch the final two months of the regular season, but of particular interest to these eyes will be the Northwest Division. Denver currently leads Portland by three and Utah by six. Denver has been rather healthy, save for Carmelo Anthony's hand injury. Nene has been an ironman, Chauncey Billups is always an ironman, and Kenyon Martin hasn't looked a bit sluggish. The optimistic might think this fortells good fortune, while the pessimists among us might wait for that devastating injury the Nuggets face every other year.
Meanwhile, Deron Williams limped through the first six weeks, Andrei KirilenkoandCarlos Boozer had surgery in the past five weeks and ... the Jazz are right in the mix. Boozer is due to return Wednesday. Kirilenko should follow shortly thereafter. Williams is BACK. (Ask L.A.)
To mix all that up, Portland figures to be in the top five most active franchises over the next week. A new small forward or a star point guard is the word; the Blazers have assets and a deep-pocketed buying owner. I can't wait to watch this race unfold.Miami at Chicago, 7 PM ET, TNT
What is this, 2006? Stop setting your schedules three years in advance, Turner! (Kidding -- this is a great match-up. Wade! Deng! Rose! ... Um ... [Anyone have the name of a second star on the Heat?] Haslem!