NBA schedule 2014: Miami Heat welcome the Los Angeles Lakers to kick off quiet NBA night

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Trail Blazers look to get back on track in the friendly confines of home against the Nuggets.

Thursday night is a light one in terms of NBA fare, as is the norm most weeks during the season. With only two games, both nationally televised, you're not looking at a menu with many options, but the very least we can do is break down the matchups that will be airing on TNT this evening.

Main Course: Los Angeles Lakers at Miami Heat

8 p.m. ET, TNT

This doesn't look like a great game on paper, especially without Kobe Bryant. In case you're just now catching up (where have you been?), the Lakers' franchise player hasn't been part of the action for the vast majority of the season, and the Lakers find themselves near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. But you never know what can happen on any given night in the NBA, and Nick Young's presence on the court almost always ensures there will be excitement.

Besides, LeBron James and the Heat haven't exactly been blowing the doors off opponents. Miami is just 3-4 in its last seven games and nearly avoided a loss at home to the unfortunate Celtics on Tuesday. Dwyane Wade will reportedly miss the game this evening in an effort to further rest his knees, but the Heat have played well when he's been out of action this season.

Really, while it's not the best matchup on paper, watching Swaggy P James play is always worth the menu price.

Denver Nuggets at Portland Trail Blazers

10:30 p.m., ET, TNT

It's difficult to get any kind of read on the Denver Nuggets, which actually makes them an intriguing matchup on any given night. The recent news that Danilo Gallinari will miss the rest of the season is a bummer, but the Nuggets have shown this season they can hang with most anyone, regardless. But they've got to go into Portland's Moda Center, which is never a friendly place to play.

The Trail Blazers are coming off a very difficult road trip that concluded with losses on back-to-back nights to the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder. It wouldn't behoove them to fall too much farther behind the now first-place Thunder in the standings, so you'd expect they'll come out firing in that rowdy home environment.

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