Hosting the NBA All-Star Weekend is a daunting task during any year. Add a worldwide pandemic and the logistics of welcoming the most popular players into your town while keeping the virus out can become complicated. Cleveland, as this year’s host, will grab the headlines but fans have to remember that there are four days of NBA action to enjoy before the weekend festivities arrive. Here are a few of the big games we can look forward to.
February 14, 16, and 17
The Brooklyn Nets are in a slump and are looking forward to the three games they have this week. These three games, on paper, should be quite easy for them. It will be against the Sacramento Kings, New York Knicks, and Washington Wizards. A three-game winning streak heading into the mid-season break should do wonders for the team. Can they take advantage of this week’s schedule?
February 14 and 15
Tough test for the Los Angeles Clippers right here but if they pass this one, they’ll know they’re on the right track. A back-to-back setup against the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns might not be something any team will look forward to but the Clippers have to face this with a positive approach. It’s their chance to test Norman Powell and Robert Covington. They have to see how this team, with new components, will perform against the top squads of the west.
The Utah Jazz and the Los Angeles Lakers will meet for the second time this season. Can the Jazz regain their shooting touch? The Lakers won by six last time they met but the outcome could have been different if Jordan Clarkson and Bojan Bogdanovic didn’t have shooting woes. Clarkson and Bogdanovic were a combined 3-for-22 from the field and fellow Jazz player Donovan Mitchell went 0-for-8 from three-point land.
When the revamped Philadelphia 76ers visit Milwaukee to face the Bucks, it will be their first road game since acquiring James Harden. They might as well use this match as a measuring stick to see how strong they are compared to the defending champion. The Sixers now have a second star that can help Joel Embiid and fans have to wonder if this pairing is good enough to make them true contenders.
New All-Star Blood
Dejounte Murray of the San Antonio Spurs, a first-time All-Star, doesn’t mind that he’s in as an injury replacement because he knows he deserves it. His impressive numbers this season will confirm that. Even LaMelo Ball, another first-timer representing the Charlotte Hornets, will say the same. When opportunity knocks, you open the door and accept it. No need to think twice about it.
Fans frustrated by seeing the same players in the NBA All-Star Game got their wish when several newcomers were announced for this weekend’s game. Yes, some got in because others were not available to play but we’re sure they won’t let that bother them. These players earned their first trip to the big showdown and we can’t wait to see how they’ll play. Will they be nervous? We have to wait and see. How they perform will be one of the well-followed stories during the All-Star Weekend.
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Follow Joey Almendras on Twitter @Buyaw
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