Denver handed Boston a rare home loss back on Nov. 14, an early statement about Chauncey Billups' considerable impact on the Nuggets. This matchup of two of the NBA's best has lost a bit of luster because Kevin Garnett is sidelined with a knee injury. Nevertheless, every game is crucial with the Celtics battling Cleveland for home-court advantage in the East and the Nuggets wrestling with San Antonio for the No. 2 seed in the West.
2 of 6John W. McDonough/SI
Mavericks at Spurs | Tuesday, Feb. 24, 8:30 p.m.
How's this for a week for the Spurs: Home games against Dallas, Portland (Wed.) and Cleveland (Fri.) and a road game at Portland (Sun.) -- all without Manu Ginobili. The Mavs, meanwhile, are coping without ace sixth man Jason Terry. In the last Spurs-Mavs matchup, on Dec. 9, San Antonio won 133-126 in double overtime behind Tim Duncan's 32 points and 14 rebounds.
3 of 6John W. McDonough/SI
Suns at Lakers | Thursday, Feb. 26, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
Phoenix is emphasizing the running game even without explosive finisher Amar'e Stoudemire and even with lumbering center Shaquille O'Neal, who meets up again with Kobe not long after the two shared MVP honors at the All-Star Game. The Suns' fast pace shouldn't bother the Lakers, who lead the NBA in scoring and rank in the top five in pace. The teams also play three days later in Phoenix.
4 of 6Greg Nelson/SI
Lakers at Nuggets | Friday, Feb. 27, 9 p.m.
Will Carmelo Anthony finally breakout against the Western Conference leaders? Anthony struggled against the Lakers in last year's first-round playoff series (36.4 percent) and has been even worse against them in two games this season (11.5 points, 29.4. percent).
5 of 6Bob Rosato/SI
Cavaliers at Spurs | Friday, Feb. 27, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
A night after visiting Dallas, Cleveland completes a Texas two-step as part of a four-game trip. The reinforcements have arrived for the road stretch, as starting shooting guard Delonte West has returned after missing 16 games with a broken wrist.
6 of 6Greg Nelson/SI
Thunder at Grizzlies | Saturday, Feb. 28, 8 p.m.
Ignore the teams' records and keep your eyes on Kevin Durant, who looks like a future scoring champion and soon-to-be perennial All-Star. The second-year Thunder forward is averaging 33.2 points on 53.5 percent shooting, and on this night he'll face a Grizzlies team that ranks among the worst in the league in field-goal defense.
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