NYK @ IND: The Knicks dropped three of their last four before the break and Indiana is a very tough place to play. Carmelo Anthony will try to outscore Paul George and David West; Melo had a ‘dead arm’ from a bruised biceps when he shot 5-for-24 last game, but seemed just fine in the All-Star game. Roy Hibbert will need to be at his best against Tyson Chandler for the Pacers to win. While Danny Granger (knee) is getting close to a return, it won’t be tonight.
OKC @ HOU: This is the third meeting between James Harden and his former team. The first was a nightmare for all the Rockets, who were devastated and exhausted from attending a funeral that day. In the second, Harden had 25 points but missed 11 shots. He’s always a must-start and the key to Houston’s chances. This one should be high-scoring and entertaining, with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook almost impossible to stop.
BRK @ MIL: It will be hard to top the drama from last night as these clubs conclude a home-and-home. Though they lost a heartbreaker, the Bucks certainly played well enough to win in Brooklyn and will be determined to salvage a split. How D-Will and Sanders handle the back-to-back (both were injured before the break) remains to be seen.
PHI @ MIN: Injuries ruin seasons. Minnesota was poised to make the playoffs until Kevin Love broke his hand, twice. They will get Andrei Kirilenko back tonight; AK-47 missed five games with a quad injury. Ricky Rubio is in fine form and Nikola Pekovic is a force in the middle. The Sixers don’t have a center who can bang with Pek; Spencer Hawes is more of a finesse type. They do have Jrue Holiday, but with Thaddeus Young (hamstring) out, there isn’t enough scoring.
NOH @ CLE: Big edge to the Cavs, rested and at home against a team that lost last night. Eric Gordon is unlikely to play two straight nights for the future Pelicans. Use Kyrie Irving with confidence, after he dazzled in Houston on three straight nights — 32 in the Rising Stars game, winning the 3-point shootout and scoring 15 in his first of many All-Star games. Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters are also capable of big nights.
MIA @ ATL: This could be the final game for Josh Smith in a Hawks uniform, and while he’d like to make it memorable, going up against sizzling-hot LeBron James is quite a challenge. It would be no surprise if Al Horford and Chris Bosh put up nice fantasy lines against each other, but Atlanta may have trouble containing LBJ and Dwyane Wade. Definitely one of the marquee attractions tonight.
ORL @ DAL: Lose at home, fly to Dallas and play the well-rested Mavs? Sorry, Magic. That’s not a recipe for success. Loading up on players like Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo and Dirk Nowitzki is a decent strategy in daily leagues, but there’s the possibility of garbage time, so bench players like Vince Carter and Jae Crowder could also be useful.
PHO @ GSW: If anything can get the Warriors back on track, it’s a visit from the Suns, who are highly unlikely to win twice on the road in as many nights. It would also help if Harrison Barnes plays better; the rookie was a non-factor in Utah. Both teams being tired makes it hard to predict any individual stars, other than the consistent Mr. Curry.
BOS @ LAL: This is a tough doubleheader for Boston, off the high-altitude loss. The Lakers will be trying to honor the memory of owner Jerry Buss, who presided over ten championships before passing away on Monday. I’ll go with Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard this evening; Earl Clark could bounce back from a couple of poor games if his sore foot is feeling better after six days off.