Best of the East vs. Best of the West

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

How would the Eastern Conference All-Star team compare with the Heat starting five? How would the Western Conference All-Star team compare with the Suns starting five? The matchup tonight between the beast of the east and the best of the west may be even more exciting than the All-Star game will be. Amare Stoudemire vs. Shaquille O'Neal. Steve Nash vs. Dwyane Wade. Take a nap in the afternoon if you need to because this is one you must stay up for.

Will it come down to Shaq's fouls? Will it come down to Amare's fouls? Will it come down to a Dwyane Wade penetration and dunk followed by a Suns fast break off the made basket orchestrated by Steve Nash for yet another assist?

How many records will get broken?

I got a lot of emails about yesterday's article describing Seattle as a possible Finals foe for Miami. People seem to be writing off the Sonics despite their impressive record.

Nobody is writing off the Suns anymore, who are en route to shatter the Bulls 72-10 record.

The two teams meat only one more time this season, and that will be in Miami on March 25. By that time, the seedings will be all but solidified. But what will have changed? Miami will still be on top of the East and Phoenix will still be on top of the West.

Tonight's game, however it turns out, will be studied diligently by both clubs come June as it will represent the more important 50% of the available evidence against the opponents.

The Heat (27-9, first in the Southeast) continue their Western Conference road trip with a matchup against the Phoenix Suns (30-4, first in the Pacific and the league), another potential Finals rival. That game is TONIGHT, Tuesday, January 11th, 2005. The game starts at 9:00pm Eastern and will be broadcast on the Sunshine Network and NBA TV in High Definition.

Heat Fans, pleasemark your calendars: On Sunday, January 23, the Heat will play the New Orleans Hornets at the AmericanAirlines Arena at 6:00 pm. The Heat will be on the road on Monday, January 24, taking on the 76ers at 7:00 pm in Philadelphia.

Malik Allen(back),Dorell Wright(abdominal), andJerome Beasley(back) are parked on the injured list.


Bob Baum of The Associated Press writes inThe San Francisco Chroncicle: Amare Stoudemire was a reluctant center when the season began. Shaquille O'Neal is liable to remind him why.Still, Stoudemire and the remarkable Phoenix Suns say they are up for the challenge when O'Neal and the Miami Heat make their only visit to the desert on Tuesday night in a matchup of the best records in the East and West.

Stephen F. Holder ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: Shawn Marion estimates it takes four or five seconds.Amare Stoudemire figures it doesn't take more than two or three. It's a pointless debate really, trying to determine how long it takes the Phoenix Suns to score in transition. Either way, it's less time than any other team. ''Once we get the rebound, it's two passes and a dunk,'' said Stoudemire, who this season has elevated his game to become one of the league's elite post players.

Tim Tyers ofThe Arizona Republicwrites: Suns center Amaré Stoudemire didn't practice on Monday, he spent the morning in the team's rehab room. "I think he's in there because I just told him he has to guard Shaq," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said.

David Vest ofThe Arizona Republicwrites: An expected sellout for tonight's game against Shaquille O'Neal and the Miami Heat would be the Suns' sixth, matching their total from all of last season.Team President Rick Welts said average attendance should increase to 17,000, up from 16,351 last year, by the end of the season, based on tickets purchased for future games and the team's success.