Enormous Consequences: Setting Up The Scene

Sunday's NBA action has it all, really. We have each conference's glamour team facing a probable first-round opponent, we have teams looking to solidify their seeds playing crummy opponents (trap games!) and as a nightcap we have a battle between two squads being chased by rabid challengers. Plus, the Maloofs are going to show up to the Kings' first game in Sacramento since the family killed the arena deal. It's going to be a great day in the NBA.

The first potential playoff match-up we'll see pits the Miami Heat against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden. LeBron James and Dwyane Wade get to deal with Tyson Chandler again (oh fun!), but the supporting cast around the Knicks' center is less imposing, especially defensively. (There's no Jason Kidd or Shawn Marion to slip into lockdown mode.) Carmelo Anthony will obviously remain the offensive focal point for New York; his battles with LeBron are always great fun to watch.

The second playoff preview features the Dallas Mavericks visiting the L.A. Lakers. You may remember these teams from classics like "4-0" and "the Lamar Odom trade." Both teams are weaker than they were last year. It doesn't matter. This should be a doozy of a game and, if the bracket holds, a series too.

In seeding wars, the Celtics will try to keep pace against the Bobcats (good luck!) while the Hawks host the Raptors. The Bulls are plenty ahead of the Heat, but need to keep an eye on Oklahoma City and San Antonio for No. 1 overall. Chicago visits the Pistons. Reeling Orlando, missing Dwight Howard, will attempt to clinch a playoff berth against the Cavaliers. The Memphis Grizzlies can pull within one game of the Clippers' No. 4 seed in the West with a win over the Hornets.

But the game I can't wait to see is the nightcap between the Rockets and Nuggets.

Houston and Denver are knotted at 32-27. The winner here takes a one-game lead for No. 7, and the loser would fall to just one game ahead of No. 9 Phoenix. Basically, Houston and Denver are both running from a serial killer who looks a lot like Marcin Gortat, and each team has the opportunity to slip a banana peel under the foot of the other. Who do you trust to do that, Goran Dragic or Ty Lawson?

Best part? The two teams do it all again in Houston on Monday.

Stay tuned, y'all.

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