Celtics at Trail Blazers | Tuesday, Dec. 30, 10 p.m. ET
Portland didn't look ready for prime time in its 93-78 loss at Boston on Dec. 5. But now the Blazers catch the defending champs in the midst of a four-game homestand while the Celtics are finishing a four-game road trip. The Blazers will need a big game from their star, Brandon Roy, who shot 3-of-11 from the field in the teams' first meeting.
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Heat at Magic | Friday, Jan. 2, 7 p.m.
After a soft early schedule, Miami is starting to see tougher competition. This visit to red-hot Orlando comes on the heels of back-to-back games against Cleveland and occurs just days before the start of a seven-game road trip. Dwyane Wade has yet to face the Magic this season, but he's been torching just about everybody else in leading the NBA in scoring.
3 of 6Bill Frakes/SI
Rockets at Hawks | Saturday, Jan. 3, 7 p.m.
Atlanta already has collected quality victories against the Magic, Hornets and Cavaliers (along with two near-misses against the Celtics). Joe Johnson and the Hawks almost added the Rockets to that list earlier this month but blew an eight-point fourth-quarter lead in Houston.
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Hornets at Nuggets | Saturday, Jan. 3, 9 p.m.
The Western Conference regularly features great matchups at point guard. The clash between Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups ranks among the best. Paul paces the Hornets in scoring and also is the league leader in assists and steals, while Billups is emerging as a dark horse MVP candidate because of his impact on the Nuggets.
5 of 6John W. McDonough/SI
Pistons at Clippers | Sunday, Jan. 4, 3:30 p.m.
No, this matchup doesn't scream "intriguing." But it's always interesting to watch the Pistons implode on Sundays, a day on which they are 0-6 with an average point differential of minus-14.3. This could be a breakthrough for Detroit because the Clippers are plain bad every day of the week. Baron Davis, for instance, is shooting 35 percent from the field this month.
6 of 6John W. McDonough/SI
Trail Blazers at Lakers | Sunday, Jan. 4, 9:30 p.m.
Portland's season began with a blowout loss at the Lakers in which Greg Oden sprained his foot, an injury that would cost him six games. Since his return, Oden has proved to be limited offensively and too foul-prone to make consistent contributions. His latest matchup with Lakers center Andrew Bynum, who himself has been up and down of late, will be a good measuring stick of Oden's first-year progress.
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