MMPG: The FourCast
1. New Orleans at Los Angeles Lakers (Tuesday)
Of note: If the New Orleans Hornets are going to be taken seriously as contenders in the Western Conference, they are going to have to get at least one win against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers have won the first two meetings this season, and neither has been very competitive. They led by 23 points before beating the Hornets, 93-86, in Los Angeles on Nov. 12. Then, they led by 20 before clubbing the Hornets, 100-87, in New Orleans on Dec. 23.
2. Orlando at Atlanta (Wednesday)
Of note: The Atlanta Hawks have the third-best home record in the Eastern Conference (15-2) and they have won six consecutive games at Philips Arena. The Orlando Magic has the best road record in the East (12-5), although it comes to Atlanta having lost two of its past three road games, including a 108-102 loss to Toronto on Sunday. The Hawks have been one of the league's surprises this season, and it started when they won the season opener, 99-85, in Orlando. Dwight Howard, an Atlanta native, would love to get some payback. The teams meet again in Orlando on Friday.
3. Boston at Cleveland (Friday)
Of note: The teams with the top two records in the Eastern Conference collide for the first time since the Boston Celtics defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers, 90-85, in the season opener. Both teams raced out to ridiculously hot starts, but they have chilled some in recent weeks. The Cavaliers have lost two of their past three games, while the Celtics have lost four of their past six. Points are always at a premium when these teams get together, but Paul Pierce and LeBron James usually get up for each other.
4. Detroit at Denver (Friday)
Of note: Chauncey Billups welcomes his former teammates to his hometown for the first time since the Detroit Pistons shipped him (and Antonio McDyess) to Denver in exchange for Allen Iverson. Billups has been a tremendous fit with the Nuggets, leading them to a 22-9 record and first place in the Northwest Division. The Pistons have had a more difficult adjustment to Iverson, but they have been able to get back on track behind the player that helped make Billups disposable -- Rodney Stuckey. Stuckey has had games with 40 and 38 points this season. Detroit has also won seven in a row. The difference has also been the return of McDyess, who accepted a buyout from Denver to go back to Detroit. The Pistons are 10-3 with McDyess this season.
Others in consideration: San Antonio at Miami (Monday); Houston at Boston (Wednesday); Miami at Denver (Wednesday); Detroit at Portland (Wednesday); Dallas at Phoenix (Friday); Orlando at San Antonio (Sunday); Miami at Los Angeles Lakers (Sunday).
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Posted by: FoneBooth | January 5, 2009 1:46 PM
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