The NBA's Thursday night showcase features two banged-up teams of lore and one of the most fun defensive teams facing one of the most fun offensive teams.
There are only two games on Thursday night, both on TNT. But first, let's talk about the pregame festivities.
Thursday night, the "Inside the NBA" crew will announce the participants in NBA All-Star Saturday night, which includes the dunk competition and three-point shootout. Supposedly, this year, the events will be Western Conference vs. Eastern Conference, with Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade the team captains. This is a novel idea, and one I support.
Nick Cannon is hosting the festivities. This is a terrible idea, and one I condemn.
All will be forgiven, however, if New York Knicks forward James White is selected to participate in the dunk contest. White, in case you didn't know, can do an Eastbay (putting the ball through your legs in mid-air) while dunking from the free throw line. This is the first time he's been in the NBA during the All-Star Game. If he is not in the contest, I will personally hold Nick Cannon responsible and burn an effigy of him, somewhere.
On to the games:
Lakers at Celtics, 8 p.m. ET: The Celtics have no Rajon Rondo and no Jared Sullinger, but have won five straight. These wins have come mostly against sub-.500 teams and the Clippers without Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Speaking of sub-.500 teams, they're hosting the Lakers, without Pau Gasol and probably Dwight Howard. Somehow, this game will completely dominate all the discussion and the far superior late game will be an afterthought.
Bulls at Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. ET: The Bulls, as outlined brilliantly by Grantland's Zach Lowe, are among the finest defensive teams of the past decade. They'll take that prowess to a mile into the atmosphere against the Denver Nuggets, which have won their last seven games and are playing an outstanding brand of basketball, taking nearly exclusively high-efficiency shots. These teams are the darlings of basketball nerds everywhere because they finally get what basketball nerds everywhere have been saying for years. This should be a really fun game, but it probably won't break 100 points. So, sorry about that one.