Give me Celtics, Lakers

When there are 30 NBA teams playing an 82-game schedule, it is pretty easy to find something at least a little intriguing on the docket each night.

Tonight it is a little more than intriguing.

Boston and Miami hook up in a rematch of the NBA's season-opening game, and the Los Angeles Lakers take on Denver in the second half of TNT's doubleheader.

The Celtics and Heat haven't necessarily been taking the Eastern Conference by storm as expected.

Boston had a five-game winning streak snapped in Dallas on Monday after having won a four-point game, a 23-point game, two OT wins and a nine-point win at Oklahoma City. The Celtics are 21st in scoring at 97.9 a game, but are only allowing 92.6 for sixth-best in the league.

Miami has lost two of three since reeling off a four-game win streak after the season-opening 88-80 loss in Boston. The Heat are 15th in the NBA in scoring at 101.4 a game, but are also tops in the league defensively, allowing 90.1 a game.

The Celtics will be without Jermaine O'Neal down low but should see Shaquille O'Neal return after a five-game layoff. And Miami needs to figure out how to defend the paint after giving up 56 inside in its last outing against Utah.

For the 8-0 Lakers, Denver might be the only team between now and Christmas that poses the threat of putting a notch in the loss column. However, the Nuggets are playing without bigs Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen, and Nene is just a couple games back in from injury himself.

If Denver wants to pick up the pace to offset the lack of big men, the Lakers have had no problem playing at a steady clip. L.A. has a pace of 96.4 — possessions per 48 minutes — which is ninth in the league, while scoring a league-best 112.1 a game. Denver has a pace of 95.5 a game with 104 points per contest. The Nuggets are coming off a back-to-back on the road in which they lost by 2 and 31.

Boston's ability to score both inside and out will lead the Cs to victory tonight in Miami, while the well-oiled machine that is the Lakers will roll in Denver.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

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