Los Angeles Clippers (44-19) vs. Denver Nuggets (40-22)
Let us talk about entertainment. That is what the NBA really is all about to the casual fan at least. The casual fan may not appreciate the finer points of a weakside rotation, a well-set pick or a perfectly timed pocket pass.
No, fans like scoring. They like seeing athletes get up and down the court and display their athleticism in breath-taking ways.
So, fans, stay awake for this one. There may not be two better teams at running a fast-break offense in the league than the Clippers and Nuggets (with all due respect to the Rockets who have a record closer to .500 and not near the top of the West like these two teams).
Need proof? Watch the highlights of Jamal Crawford's between the legs pass to Blake Griffin for a windmill dunk from last night's win over the Bucks. Or watch the way Chris Paul or Ty Lawson weave their way through traffic and around picks to set themselves and others up.
Both teams have a running mentality and are best out on the break in transition. That should make defense a big deal in this game. And both of these teams are pretty good at that. Whoever wins the transition points might very well win this game.
So who is better?
The question might better be put as who can execute better in the half court. The Nuggets and Clippers have split their first two meetings and this is the rubber match. In the long-run, the Clippers might actually be slightly better in the half court but do not have the omnipresence of Chris Paul directing things.
Denver won a 92-78 game on January 1, so maybe the Nuggets have a slight edge. Particularly since the Nuggets are very difficult to beat in Denver.
As a disinterested fan though, there might not be a more entertaining way to spend the late hours of Thursday evening.
Other Storylines to Watch
-The NBA world is still buzzing over Crawford's fancy dish to Griffin for another "dunk of the year candidate" from Lob City. Crawford explained to ESPN.com that he knew he had a clear runway and the best jumper in the world behind him he needed to do somthing creative. Crawford said he always wanted to try that between the legs move and was waiting for an All-Star Game to do it. Guess the Bucks had to do.
-The Nuggets may not be discussed among the Western Conference teams that could make the Finals, but Ty Lawson is beginning to believe. He said he was talking with veteran Andre Iguodala and they both seemed to agree that this team really might have the right formula to surprise and make a championship run.
Tonight's Other Games
Oklahoma City Thunder (44-16) vs. New York Knicks (37-21)
Carmelo Anthony might still be questionable for tonight's game against the Thunder, but his absence has allowed a bit of a Renaissance for Amar'e Stoudemire. Stoudemire had a strong effort against the Cavaliers and then followed it up with another solid game against the Pistons. He had 22 points in each game and shot 18 for 27 (66.7 percent) in the two games. If Stoudemire can find his footing again, the Knicks become very dangerous.