The 2011 NBA preseason schedule is close to wrapping up with regular season games beginning on Sunday, but it isn't quite over as the slate is packed with eight games happening on Wednesday evening. A rematch between the Miami Heat and Orlando along with the Los Angeles Clippers and crosstown rival Lakers will be highlighted nationally on NBA TV, but twelve other teams will be in action as well as they look to finish preparations for the lockout-shortened season.
The game between the Magic and Heat should be an interesting affair, at least as far as preseason games are concerned, because of the hoopla made following Sunday's blowout victory by the Heat. Dwight Howard was accused of being preoccupied with his trade demands, the Heat had some dude named Terrel Harris drop 16 points and the Magic ended a 21-game preseason winning streak with a 33-points loss. That isn't even mentioning, by the way, the fact that guys like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are back to playing actual organized basketball.
The other national game shouldn't be bad, either, as Lob City hosts its first game since acquiring Chris Paul and the rights to plenty of Top 10 plays on SportsCenter this season. Kobe Bryant likely won't play if he's not fully healed from a wrist injury sustained in Monday's game, but the stars will likely still be out in full force as Mike Brown and Vinny Del Negro try to figure out their rotations heading into Sunday's season opener.
As far as Wednesday night's non-nationally televised games are concerned, a brief rundown is included below:
The Toronto Raptors will play the Boston Celtics to wrap up their preseason in a game scheduled to tip-off at 7:30 p.m. in the Garden. D-League call-up Greg Stiemsma hit the game-winner to put the Celtics on top in their game earlier in the preseason.
The New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks will finish up their exhibition schedule as well, this time with the Knicks hosting the 7:30 game. The Knicks won't have new free agent signing Baron Davis in uniform yet as he recovers from injury, leaving plenty of minutes for preseason sensation Iman Shumpert in the backcourt.
Chris Paul will be getting ready to play on NBA TV in the Staples Center while his old team, the New Orleans Hornets, tip-off at home against the Memphis Grizzlies at 8 p.m. The Grizzlies recently lost power forward Darrell Arthur for the season, meaning they'll likely be trying to figure out which of their camp invites will be able to stick while the Hornets just try to figure out how to field a competitive team.
The Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks will meet for the second time during the exhibition schedule, but it won't have nearly the fanfare as the first match-up when they reconvene in Wisconsin for an 8 p.m. tip-off. Ricky Rubio and J.J. Barea both opted to stay in Minneapolis due to injury, leaving the Timberwolves backcourt a bit underwhelming.
In a game featuring another team affected by the Chris Paul trade, the Houston Rockets will stay in Texas to play the San Antonio Spurs at 8:30 Eastern Time. The Rockets were scheduled to get Pau Gasol from the Lakers in the deal would have sent Paul to the other L.A. team, but that plan was canceled when Commissioner Stern vetoed the trade.
The Utah Jazz will host the Portland Trail Blazers in the final non-NBA TV game on Wednesday evening at 9 Eastern (and 6 Pacific, for those in Portland). The Blazers have already likely made their final cut when they released veteran big man Earl Barron on Tuesday, leaving this evening's competition to likely figure out a rotation for Nate McMillain's team.
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