When the Oklahoma City Thunder (34-10) visits the Los Angeles Lakers (18-25) at 3:30 ET, they will be a 3½-point favorite. The game, shown live on ABC has a similar storyline as the Miami Heat – Boston Celtics matchup it follows.
Before the season, both the Thunder and Lakers were regarded as two of the top four or five teams in the NBA, let alone the Western Conference. NBA observers had the Thunder and Lakers on a collision course to face each other in the Western Conference Finals. The offseason predictions appear well off. The Thunder is among the elite teams in the Association, while the Lakers are in danger to miss the playoffs for only sixth time in franchise history.
When you toss out the records for both teams, you find a tantalizing contest featuring four of the NBA’s top-15 players. This game is filled with star power.
Miami Heat 28 - 12 at Boston Celtics 20 - 23
Result of last meeting: Boston 107 – Miami 120
The Miami Heat will be at the TD garden today for a matinee game against the Boston Celtics. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since the NBA’s opening night. Today’s game will also be Ray Allen’s first game back at the Garden since leaving the Celtics for the Heat last summer. The Heat enters the game fresh off a 110 to 88 victory Friday night over the Detroit Pistons that pushes their winning streak to four games.
While the Heat have established themselves as the best team in the Eastern Conference so far this season, the Celtics have continued to be a disappointment. Their losing streak was extended to six games after a depressing loss Friday night to the Atlanta Hawks where they blew a twenty-seven point lead and lost 123 to 111 in double overtime.
The NBA announced the All-Star reserves in both conferences on Thursday, and the news was surprisingly good for Chicago Bulls fans. Although the Bulls had no starters on the Eastern Conference team, both Luol Deng (making his second straight appearance) and Joakim Noah (a first-time All-Star) made the list of bench players for the East.
Both players obviously deserve enormous credit for keeping the Bulls in the playoff picture while superstar Derrick Rose rehabs his injured knee. That said, the All-Star Game is meant to recognize individual excellence above all, and it’s hard to justify sending both Chicago standouts in a year when some very strong candidates are staying home.
Deng seems the more plausible choice, as he’s shown immense versatility while carrying the Bulls’ offense. He’s averaging a team-high 17.4 points per game, pulling down 6.4 boards a night in a terrific frontcourt, and playing his usual impeccable defense.
New York Knicks News: After Jeremy Lin And Steve Novak's Emergence Chris Copeland May Be Knicks Next Diamond In The Rough
Taking a glance at the New York Knicks roster of experienced superstars and grizzled veterans, it’s hard to spot a player likely to make major improvements over the course of this season.
As Marcus Camby told me at Knicks practice in London last week: “We are a veteran group. There’s not a lot coach can tell us that we haven’t already seen. A lot of people like to focus on the Knicks being an old team, which is true in terms of age, but we’re also a wise team and an experienced team.”
But there’s one Knick who bucks this trend, 28-year-old rookie forward Chris Copeland.
In limited spots, he’s already proved to be far more valuable than a benchwarmer capable of grabbing garbage time points. His ongoing evolution into a legitimate NBA player is the feel-good story of this Knick season.
Left undrafted after four years at the University of Colorado, the same college attended by Chauncey Billups and current Utah Jazz star Alec Burks, Copeland embarked on what became a five-year odyssey to battle his way back to the NBA.