NBA schedule 2013: LeBron James, Heat travel to Portland

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James and the two-time defending champion Miami Heat will travel to Portland to take on the red-hot Blazers.

There are 12 NBA games on Saturday, with LeBron James and the two-time defending champion Miami Heat headlining as they travel to the West Coast to take on one of the league's hottest teams. The Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers square off in Indianapolis and there's a surprisingly fun point guard match up to top things off.

Main Course

Miami Heat vs. Portland Trail Blazers

League Pass; 10 p.m. ET

A dream matchup for NBA fans, the Heat and Blazers feature the league's two best offenses, each with a number of potent shooters. It seems like everyone is waiting for Portland to run out of steam, but with wins against the Clippers, Pacers and Thunder -- all in the last month -- it stands to reason to wonder if it ever will.

Can the Blazers play enough defense to win? Portland, ranked No. 23 in defensive efficiency via Basketball-Reference, isn't known for its defensive play; rather, the team has steamrolled teams to the point it doesn't necessarily need to play stout defense. But against Miami, the two-time defending champions, the Blazers will need to come up with stops. Can they do that when it matters most?

Can the Heat stop LaMarcus Aldridge? The old adage is that the Heat struggle against size and, in Aldridge, they will likely have their hands full. Portland has a stable of shooters and a continually flowing offense, but Aldridge is its leading scorer and he is who provides Miami the most burdensome challenge.


Appetizer

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics

League Pass; 1 p.m. ET

Saturday's only early game, the Cavaliers and Celtics will provide a little start to a heavy load of NBA games. Both teams have lost their last three games, but any type of win-streak can move you a few spots in an ever-changing Eastern Conference.

For Cleveland, getting a win would huge in stopping its skid. After Saturday, the Cavaliers will host the Warriors on Sunday, then travel to Indianapolis to challenge the Pacers on Tuesday. Boston starts a five-game Western Conference road trip early in January, so halting its recent skid is of the utmost importance.

A fun matchup here to keep an eye on is Kyrie Irving versus Avery Bradley. They are essentially polar opposites, with Irving the offensive wizard and Bradley the defensive stopper. Exciting basketball things will happen when the ball is in Irving's hands and Bradley is sitting down, intensely in his defensive stance.

Dessert

Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Clippers

League Pass; 10:30 p.m. ET

On the surface, this looks like a blowout -- and it very likely will be -- with the Clippers being the far superior team. But there's a little point guard matchup in here to keep an eye on: Jazz rookie Trey Burke versus Clippers superstar Chris Paul.

Paul is, obviously, the better player, as he is the best point guard in the NBA, but Burke has been a lot of fun in his rookie year. Burke isn't anywhere close to being the clairvoyant that Paul is, but he's scoring from anywhere on the floor and has lifted Utah to a team that isn't completely incompetent.

Burke possesses the little hesitation dribbles and nuances that Paul has and looks like he has a bright future as a lead guard in the NBA. One can assume that Paul will give the rookie the business and if he does, then that will be fun in itself.

The remainder of the schedule (all times Eastern):

Nets vs. Pacers, 7 p.m.

Knicks vs. Raptors, 7 p.m.

Pistons vs. Wizards, 7 p.m.

Bobcats vs. Hawks, 7:30 p.m.

Mavericks vs. Bulls, 8 p.m.

Pelicans vs. Rockets, 8 p.m.

Nuggets vs. Grizzlies, 8 p.m.

Timberwolves vs. Bucks, 8:30 p.m.

76ers vs. Suns, 9 p.m.

More from SB Nation NBA:

The Hook: Rethinking the NBA draft lottery

The Lakers come to grips with reality

Why players don’t like Blake Griffin

Prada's pictures: Phoenix's 2-headed dragon and Drummond's development

James Harden pulls off the oldest prank in the book | #Lookit

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.