NOH @ MIA: What if Miami had a center? A defensive stopper with just a bit more talent than Joel Anthony would let Chris Bosh return to his natural PF position and just because LeBron James can play the 4 doesn’t mean he must. Anyway, they can’t repeat as champions allowing over 100 points a game, and shutting down the tired Hornets tonight is a good place to start.
NYK @ CHI: The Beasts of the East won’t have an easy time of it. If Carmelo Anthony (lacerated finger) can’t play, and Raymond Felton’s sore thumb is an issue, the well-coached Bulls can win. The matchup between red-hot Noah and Tyson Chandler is a focal point.
DET @ CLE: You have to have some sympathy for the plight of the Cavaliers. No player is more important to his team than Kyrie Irving, and they were spinning their wheels without him when Dion Waiters got hurt. Now they have a trio of undersized fellas forced to play big minutes. Of course, the Pistons are 1-10 on the road, and the entire team barely out-rebounded one man last night. Anything can happen.
PHI @ BOS: Call this the second half of a very long game, call it Part 2. Just don’t miss it. After a playoff-intense overtime battle in Philly, the scene shifts and the Celtics will be even tougher at home. Nick Young (toe) is a possibility to return this evening, but otherwise it’s the same stellar cast in an eagerly-anticipated sequel.
DAL @ HOU: The I-45 championship is at stake and the Rockets play much better at home than they did in San Antonio last night. Omer Asik will try to bounce back from his worst outing of the year. Dallas has one extra day of rest, but Chris Kaman (ankle) and Shawn Marion (groin) were both hobbling after Thursday’s game, so they may have to rely heavily on Brandan Wright.
ATL @ MEM: After a fairly easy win at home, the Hawks step up in class 24 hours later. Memphis is 9-1 on their home court, and they should find a way to win. Atlanta almost has to start Zaza Pachulia against Marc Gasol. Against their ‘small’ lineup, Rudy Gay would run wild, like he did last night.
SAC @ POR: The Blazers have an extra day of rest, they’re at home and the Kings are winless on the road. What an interesting contrast between intelligent, disciplined, consistent LaMarcus Aldridge and the furious raw talent of DeMarcus Cousins. Each team has a key player banged up. Nicolas Batum (back) may have to sit out, and Francisco Garcia started in place of Tyreke Evans (knee) last night.
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