MMPG: The FourCast
1. Cleveland at Miami (Monday))
Of note: The Miami Heat announced that Alonzo Mourning's No. 33 jersey will be the first retired number in franchise history. It's certain that Dwyane Wade's No. 3 will someday hang alongside it in the rafters. If LeBron James were to someday bolt Cleveland and team with his good friend Wade in Miami, he would have to change numbers because Heat President Pat Riley already retired Michael Jordan's No. 23 (right along with Miami Dolphins legendary quarterback Dan Marino's No. 13). But no need to look ahead to a possible Wade-James union, when the league's two leading scorers and MVP candidates have had some awesome head-to-head clashes since entering the league in 2003. Wade has been the league's leading scorer for most of the season, except for a brief period when James held the lead. Wade now has a 0.7 point lead over his good friend (29-28.3). Wade has averaged 25 points and 10 assists against Cleveland, while James has averaged 35.5 points and 8 assists, with both teams winning on their home floor.
2. Denver at Detroit (Tuesday)
Of note: The results on the floor make the Chauncey Billups-Allen Iverson trade one of the more lopsided basketball trades in recent memory. After leading his hometown Denver Nuggets to the top of the Northwest Division this season, Billups returns to Detroit, where the Pistons are still struggling to figure out what to do with Iverson. The Pistons are just 23-29 with Iverson, and 6-0 without him, including their past two wins -- impressive road victories against Eastern Conference big dogs Orlando and Boston. After the team went 4-12 with Richard Hamilton coming off the bench, Coach Michael Curry started him in Iverson's absence because of a bad back. Iverson won't play on Tuesday, but whenever Iverson returns, he will be sent to the bench, after starting all but six of his 883 career games. When the teams met in Denver on Jan. 9, Iverson scored 23 points to lead Detroit to a 93-90 win -- without Hamilton.
3. Phoenix at Miami (Wednesday)
Of note: Sandwiched between two Wade vs. James games, the Miami Heat has two reunion games against Phoenix (Shaquille O'Neal) and at Toronto (Shawn Marion). O'Neal returns to Miami for the first time since he was traded for Marion on Feb. 6, 2008. Marion has since been traded to Toronto for Jermaine O'Neal, with the Heat and Marion acknowledging that it wasn't the best fit. The younger O'Neal, though, has not been better than the older one. Jermaine is averaging just 14.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks with Miami. Although Shaq said he never went anywhere, he has obviously been getting drunk on the fountain of youth. With Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash out last week, O'Neal averaged 27.5 points and 9 rebounds in four games, including 78 combined points in wins against Toronto and the Los Angeles Lakers. This week, O'Neal gets Orlando's Dwight Howard, Miami's O'Neal, Houston's Yao Ming and San Antonio's Tim Duncan.
4. Cleveland at Boston (Friday)
Of note: Cleveland and Boston have swapped positions atop the Eastern Conference all season, and the Cavaliers currently have a half-game lead over the Celtics. So far, both teams have held serve at home this season, with Boston winning the season opener, 90-85, on Oct. 28 and LeBron James single-handedly demolishing the Celtics, 98-83, in the rematch on Jan. 9. This time around, the Celtics will get to showcase their new additions -- Stephon Marbury and Mikki Moore, whom they rescued from the waiver wire shelter -- while the Cavaliers are hoping that they will have some Ben Wallace insurance in Joe Smith, after losing Wallace to a broken leg last week. The teams will meet again on April 12 in Cleveland. The East might not get decided until that night.
Others in consideration: New Orleans at Philadelphia (Monday); Phoenix at Orlando (Tuesday); San Antonio at Dallas (Wednesday); Houston at Utah (Wednesday); Dallas at New Orleans (Thursday); Portland at Denver (Thursday); Miami at Toronto (Friday); Phoenix at Houston (Friday); Denver at Utah (Friday); Detroit at Atlanta (Saturday); Miami at Cleveland (Saturday); Orlando at Boston (Sunday); Phoenix at San Antonio (Sunday).
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