Another NBA Wednesday night means there's plenty of action across the league as the playoff race intensifies.The marquee matchup of the evening is set with two of the league's best doing battle in Indianapolis as the Miami Heat face the Indiana Pacers on ESPN.
If that weren't enough, nine other games are on the docket to entice even the most casual hoops fan. Let's dig in to the feast of the night to start:
Main Course: Heat vs. Pacers, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
The main event on Wednesday features LeBron James and the Heat taking a trip to the Midwest to face Paul George and the Pacers. Both teams come in with .500 records in the month of March; each is 5-5 in their last 10 games and looking to build momentum heading into the postseason.
This game has major implications for obvious reasons. Indiana and Miami are situated as No.'s 1 and 2 in the Eastern Conference and could face one another to determine which squad goes to the NBA Finals. If the Heat prevail, they'll head into a tie in the loss column and sit just one game back, but if the Pacers come out on top, they'll put a virtual stranglehold on the top spot with a three-game lead.
Also, like any good meal, there are some special ingredients.
George is one of few human beings capable of making James work for everything he gets--just that fact alone makes for an intriguing matchup. But George is surrounded by a team known for giving opponents fits with lockdown defense.
The Heat are the third-best offense in the league with an offensive rating of 114.4, while the Pacers are the best defensive team in the league with 106.1 points allowed per 100 possessions, according to Basketball-Reference.com.
Any time a high-octane offense matches up against a stout defensive team, it's interesting. Mix in the fact these two teams are vying for the same coveted top spot and don't get along, and it becomes must-see sports theater.
That's precisely what's set to take place on Wednesday in front of a national audience.
Appetizer: Phoenix Suns vs. Washington Wizards, 7 p.m. ET
Before the heavy-hitters go at it, two upstarts from either conference will square off in the nation's capital. The dangling carrot for this surefire fast-paced affair is the matchup of the two young dynamic point guards in Goran Dragic and John Wall. Each has had a breakout season to this point, and figure to showcase their entire arsenal of dynamic skills against one another.
As the floor generals go, so go their teams.
Washington is in the sixth seed and looking to solidify its position in the postseason, while Phoenix is working to hang on out West as the No. 8 and final seed in the playoff picture.
Ironically, the Suns hold the better record (42-29 vs. the Wizards' 36-34 mark) heading in. There's a disparity in talent between the conferences, but these two teams are fairly even in terms of where they are developmentally.
The on-court eye test will decide for a moment who's better.
Dessert: New York Knicks vs. Sacramento Kings, 10 p.m. ET
The Knicks will visit Northern California in the second leg of a back-to-back and five-game road trip to take on the Sacramento Kings.
All eyes will be on Carmelo Anthony as he works to lead his team into the playoffs for a chance to compete among the best in the East for a shot at NBA glory.
He'll have DeMarcus Cousins and all 15 of his technical fouls standing in the way. Part of the fun of Wednesday's nightcap will be to see if Boogie nets his 16th of the season and an automatic suspension.
Check out the DeMarcus Cousins technical foul prediction contest at Sactown Royalty to get in on the action.
The Kings' 25-45 record doesn't reflect how entertaining they can be on a nightly basis. Against the defensively-challenged Knicks (109.1 defensive rating, 25th in the NBA), those who manage to stay up late could bear witness to a track meet on the hardwood as Sacramento doesn't fare much better (108.5, 24th) when it comes to getting stops.
Defense be damned. Let the offensive barrage begin!