MMPG: The FourCast
1. Cleveland at Los Angeles Lakers (Monday)
Of note: The debate over the league's best overall player usually comes down to two players -- Kobe Bryant and LeBron James. Since he's more seasoned, has three championship rings, a league's most valuable player trophy and a better clutch gene that James, Bryant usually gets the nod. But in head-to-head meetings, James has been getting the best of Bryant in recent years. The Cavaliers have won five consecutive games over the Lakers. Last season, James outscored Bryant 74 to 54 and the Cavaliers won both hotly contested meetings by a combined seven points. This matchup has even more excitement than usual because it could be an NBA Finals preview since James leads the team with the best record in the East while Bryant leads the best in the West.
2. Utah at Houston (Wednesday)
Of note: Tracy McGrady quit on his team. Maybe. McGrady and Yao Ming are feuding. Maybe not. There is so much speculation and drama in Houston that it's rather incredible that the Rockets have managed to win four out of their past five games, with the only loss coming in heartbreaking fashion against the Los Angeles Lakers. All that's certain is that the Rockets again have to win while McGrady rehabs his sore left knee. What's new? The Rockets will host Utah, the team that has eliminated them from the past two postseasons. Houston didn't have McGrady when it hosted the Jazz on Dec. 27, but Ron Artest scored 28 points to lead the Rockets to a dramatic, 120-115 double-overtime win.
3. Boston at Orlando (Thursday)
Of note: After lurking in the shadows of the Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers most of the season, the Orlando Magic now has won seven in a row to claim the most wins in the NBA with 33. Orlando has won 16 of its past 18 games, a successful run that has seen them record season sweeps against San Antonio and the Lakers, destroy the New Orleans Hornets on Christmas, demolish the Atlanta Hawks twice and bombard the Sacramento Kings with a record 23 three-pointers. But the Magic doesn't have any wins this season against Detroit or Boston, and it has yet to play the Cleveland Cavaliers. Boston handed the Magic its most lopsided loss of the season, 107-88, when the teams met on Dec. 1. Boston, however, has shown cracks since then while Orlando has won 11 in a row at Amway Center.
4. San Antonio at Los Angeles Lakers (Sunday)
Of note: In his first season with the San Antonio Spurs, Roger Mason Jr. is third in the NBA in three-point shooting percentage (46.8) and averaging a career-high 12 points. But more importantly, Mason has provided heroics against the Spurs' fiercest rivals. After making a star turn on Christmas day, with a buzzer-beating three-pointer in Phoenix, Mason converted a game-winning three-point play in a 112-111 win against the Los Angeles Lakers last Wednesday. Mason really endeared himself with Spurs fans because he was able to draw a late-game foul against Derek Fisher that Brent Barry couldn't get in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals. The Lakers and Spurs meet for the second time in two weeks
Others in consideration: Phoenix at Boston (Monday); Phoenix at New York Knicks (Wednesday); Cleveland at Portland (Wednesday); Phoenix at Charlotte (Friday); Orlando at Miami (Saturday); Cleveland at Utah (Saturday); Orlando at Miami (Saturday); Dallas at Boston (Sunday); Phoenix at Atlanta (Sunday); Utah at Denver (Sunday).
Posted by: rmcazz | January 19, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse
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