With the budding rivalry between Miami and Boston on center-stage Sunday, complete with two All-Star teammates coming to blows, the game takes on a new importance.
The influx of talent has raised the level of competition so much that LaMarcus Aldridge, a power forward on a potential playoff team averaging 22 points and nine rebounds per game, will be watching from home.
The Western Conference features reigning scoring champion Kevin Durant trying to establish himself as one of the elite players in the league, while his Oklahoma City teammate, Russell Westbrook wants to prove he’s not a flash in the pan.
Chris Paul and Deron Williams engage in their latest battle for point guard supremacy, Kobe Bryant is trying to maintain his stranglehold on the perception he’s the league’s top player as his arena is hosting the event.
While there are plenty of intristing storylines in the west, the Eastern Conference is really the main attraction in the event.
Trotting out perhaps the greatest starting lineup in All-Star Game history, the individual talent and all of the bitterness among the 12 players makes this game the most anticipated in over a decade.
Will certain players be frozen out? Will any of the issues between the players carry out on the court? Can LeBron James recapture his best player in the NBA glory?
So many questions will be answered Sunday night.
NBA TV Fan Night Game of the Week
Season Series: Tied 1-1
One of the hottest teams in the league since replacing their coach, the Pacers make a rare national television appearance as they host Miami. Coming off its third loss of the season to Boston, the Heat had won its previous eight contests. Indiana’s resurgence has pushed it to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and looking to qualify for post season play for the first time since 2006.
Tuesday 10:30 p.m. ET
Season Series: Tied 1-1
Golden State is coming off an impressive victory over Oklahoma City. With the highest scoring back court in the NBA, the Warriors have won five of their last seven games. New Orleans is in the down stretch of a roller coaster season, dropping seven of its last nine contests and losing Emeka Okafor to injury.
Wednesday 7 p.m. ET
Season Series: Orlando leads 3-0
Fresh of its first road victory of the season, Washington looks for a win in its final chance against division rival Orlando. Restoring its image with a by defeating the Lakers on national television Sunday, the Magic are led by Dwight Howard and his 13-consecutive double-doubles. Averaging a career high 22.6 points per game, Howard has solidified himself as a legitimate MVP candidate this season.
Season Series: San Antonio leads 1-0
The team with the best record in the NBA takes on the up-and-coming squad in the Eastern Conference. San Antonio is the only team in the NBA with 20 road victories (and leads the league with 25 wins at home) as the Bulls have only dropped four games all season at the United Center. Chicago someone other than Derrick Rose to step up against the Spurs, in their last meeting, Rose scored 33, Luol Deng scored 18 on 6-of-17 shooting and there were little contributions elsewhere during the 103-94 loss.
Season Series: Dallas leads 1-0
Once again Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash square-off. Together for six years in Dallas, the duo turned the Mavericks into one of the most exciting teams in the NBA. It’s been seven seasons since their split, but the individual contest between the two has always remained intriguing. Dallas captured the first meeting at home after Nash only played four minutes after suffering a stinger. Phoenix is sitting at .500 and a win over the Mavericks would solidify its recent upswing.
Eastern Conference All-Stars at
Western Conference All-Stars
All-Time Series: Eastern Conference leads 36-23
Each All-Star contest brings a different set of circumstances. For 2011, it’s finding out which players are ready to become dominant. On the Eastern Conference roster alone, the three Miami players and four Celtics are fighting for supremacy heading into the playoffs. The Western Conference has the Lakers trying to hang on, while Oklahoma City, Dallas and San Antonio try and prove they are worthy adversaries. Should make for a great evening of basketball.
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