Five matchups to look forward to on Friday’s NBA schedule…
Wolves @ Cavs: Al Jefferson vs. Ben Wallace
In his first real test as the Cavs’ starting power forward, Big Ben kind of got the business from Kevin Garnett. Jefferson (21.4 ppg, 11.8 rpg) is a bit more ground-bound and theoretically easier to guard; but at the same time, he’s also the focal point of Minnesota’s offense and will get more touches and take more shots than KG.
Jazz @ Hornets: Deron Williams vs. Chris Paul
Always a must-see when these two go head-to-head. With all due respect to Nash and J-Kidd, no point guards are playing better right now than CP (20.9 ppg, 11.2 apg, 3.1 spg in February) and Deron (19.5 ppg, 10.5 apg this month). Not to mention their respective teams are coming off a huge wins against some of the League’s elite squads, with the Hornets having just routed Phoenix and Utah edging out Detroit.
Lakers @ Blazers: Kobe Bryant vs. Martell Webster
Brandon Roy is still listed as doubtful for Friday’s game. If he can’t go, Martell draws the assignment of guarding Kobe, who just gave him 30 points a few days ago. However, in the first half of that game Martell had Kobe frustrated and in foul trouble as the Blazers built a big lead. Kobe’s not letting some kid even think of getting the best of him twice in one week.
Clippers @ Nuggets: Corey Maggette vs. Carmelo Anthony
‘Melo was vocal about his desire for the Nuggets to grab Ron Artest before the trade deadline. But Ron-Ron is still in Sacramento, which means Carmelo’s gonna have to step up his defense whenever Denver faces an elite wing scorer. Maggette stamped 32 points on the Blazers a couple days ago, his fourth 30-point game this month.
Heat @ Sonics: Shawn Marion vs. Kevin Durant
It’s not like Seattle has any other scorers to speak of, which means Marion can devote his full defensive attention to Durant (19.2 ppg). The rookie struggled with his shot in his last game, too, going 4-for-17 in a blowout loss to Denver. If ever Miami was going to get a win to maybe get some kind of momentum going, this game is it.