MMPG: The FourCast
1. Boston at Orlando (Wednesday)
Of note: The Celtics and Magic meet for the final time, with so much on the line. A Celtics win would give them a critical tie-breaker if the teams finish with identical records. Boston won the first two meetings by double-digits, but Orlando beat the Kevin-Garnett-less Celtics, 86-78, on March 8 as Dwight Howard had 18 points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots. Garnett has returned to help Celtics win their past two games against San Antonio and Memphis. But Garnett, the reigning defensive player of the year, may have to cede those honors to Howard, who leads the NBA in blocks (2.97) and rebounds (13.9).
2. Miami at Chicago (Thursday)
Of note: If the fourth meeting between the Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls is anything like the past two, then this one should be thrilling. When the teams met on Feb. 12, the Heat escaped the United Center with a 95-93 win when Chicago native Dwyane Wade found Shawn Marion cutting to the basket for dunk with 1.1 seconds left. Then, on March 9 at AmericanAirlines Arena, the teams arguably played the game of the year, as Ben Gordon scored 43 points but was upstaged by Wade, who had 48 points, 12 assists and four steals -- including the game-clinching steal and running three-pointer as time expired in a wild, 130-127 double-overtime victory. The Bulls are 0-3 against Miami this season.
3. Philadelphia at Detroit (Sunday)
Of note: The Philadelphia 76ers pushed the Detroit Pistons to six games in the first round of the playoffs last season, but few would've believed that almost a year later the Pistons would be looking up at Philadelphia in the standings -- especially after the 76ers lost Elton Brand for the season with a dislocated shoulder. But the disappointing Pistons currently are missing Allen Iverson, Rasheed Wallace and Richard Hamilton and trail Philadelphia by 1 ½ games for the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference. The 76ers won the first meeting, 96-91, on Dec. 5. The teams will meet again on April 4.
4. San Antonio at New Orleans (Sunday)
Of note: The San Antonio Spurs are slumping. They have lost two in a row, and four of six overall, to slip into the second place in the Northwest Division for the first time since Jan. 6. They currently have just a one game lead over the New Orleans Hornets, who have won three in row without Tyson Chandler, whose sprained left ankle has forced him to rest again. How have they been winning? How else? Chris Paul, who averaged 28.3 points, 9 assists and 4 steals during the current streak. Paul has scored at least 25 points in his past seven games -- the second-longest streak of 25-point games in franchise history -- and is averaging 29 points and 9.4 assists over that span. Paul had 38 points in his last game against San Antonio on Jan. 31, but the Spurs won, 106-93, as his all-star counterpart, Tony Parker, had 25 points.
Others in consideration: Denver at Phoenix (Monday); Philadelphia at Portland (Monday); Detroit at Chicago (Tuesday); Houston at Utah (Tuesday); San Antonio at Atlanta (Wednesday); Denver at New Orleans (Wednesday); Utah at Phoenix (Wednesday); Los Angeles Lakers at Detroit (Thursday); Phoenix at Portland (Thursday); Boston at Atlanta (Friday); Denver at Dallas (Friday); Phoenix at Utah (Saturday); Dallas at Cleveland (Sunday); Los Angeles Lakers at Atlanta (Sunday)
Posted by: RussianMachineNeverBreaks | March 23, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse
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