It’s billed as a marquee NBA matchup, and yet it’s not at the same time.
The game features each team having two All-Star starters. It also features a team at the top of one conference while the other is fighting for a playoff spot.
The matchup is the last of the Heat’s six-game road trip and it comes on a back-to-back night. Miami is coming off a convincing victory over the Golden State Warriors where LeBron James became the youngest player to reach 20,000 points and also joined the 5,000 assist club. The game is also on Dwyane Wade‘s 31st birthday, a date he’s known to play well in. James and Wade were named All-Star starters earlier tonight during TNT‘s pre-game show.
The game was circled before the season started by fans and media alike because it featured two team with loads of talent and a possible NBA Finals preview. It hasn’t worked out that way so far, at least for one of the teams.
Despite having Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard named All-Star starters tonight, the Lakers are not having the season they envisioned when the team traded for Howard and signed Steve Nash. Injuries to Howard and Nash early in the season sent Los Angeles on a tailspin that led to a coaching change when the team fired Mike Brown and hired Mike D’Antoni. The Lakers are currently under four games under .500, despite Bryant having arguably the best season of his career.
The key player matchup over the years when the two teams have faced each other has been Wade and Bryant. This time around, it will likely be James and Bryant.
A victory tonight will even out the road trip for the Heat at 3-3.