ESPN/ABC previews Knicks/Celtics & Heat/Lakers

From ESPN/ABC –

ABC & ESPN Combine to Present NBA Quadrupleheader March 4

Heat/Lakers to Highlight Star-Studded Schedule; ESPN NBA Commentators Provide Insights

ABC and ESPN will combine to present an NBA quadrupleheader on Sunday, March 4, highlighted by the Miami Heat and their superstar tandem of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade heading west to face the Los Angeles Lakers, led by five-time NBA Champion Kobe Bryant.  The game will begin at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC with Mike Breen and analyst Jeff Van Gundy calling the action with reporter Lisa Salters.

Additionally, the New York Knicks with Jeremy Lin will travel to Boston for a matchup with the Celtics and Rajon Rondo at 1 p.m. on ABC. Mike Tirico will provide commentary with analyst Hubie Brown and reporter Heather Cox.

ESPN NBA commentators provided insights on Sunday’s matchups:

Jeff Van Gundy on Heat/Lakers
Neither Kobe Bryant nor LeBron James has to do anything different than they have all year.  The more the Lakers pound the ball into the post against Miami, the better off they’ll be. This keeps Miami out of transition and allows L.A to set their half-court defense.  The challenge for Kobe is that he doesn’t have the perimeter shooting surrounding him. He will have to take a lot of challenged jump shots.

Regarding LeBron James: He is a true point forward that is capable of leading the league in scoring, but he is much better in the role that he has currently in Miami. He has to initiate their offense and run pick-and-rolls to help his teammates score.

Mike Breen on Heat/Lakers
This is the only time the Heat will be in L.A. The crowd will be excited. Everything for me is watching the Heat play. They are playing at an incredible level at both ends of the floor. They have more talent and better depth than they did last year.

As for Kobe, the beauty of Kobe Bryant is that he just wants to win. I don’t think it’s about matching up with LeBron or even seeking revenge on Dwyane Wade for the All-Star incident. I think his only concern is putting his team in the best position to win games.

Hubie Brown on Knicks/Celtics
In the second half of the season, there will be fewer shots for Lin because the team is now healthy. So with Stoudemire, Carmelo and J.R. Smith – his shot attempts will go down – and they should. The big question marks for Lin will be: 1. Will he continue to play 35 minutes per game? 2. Will he continue to shoot at that 50 percent level? We will see how he adjusts against defenses that have already seen him. With Rondo defending him, this is a major test for Lin.

Regarding the Celtics, they have a great half-court defense. They will rely on Rondo guarding Lin. Rondo can defend well because of his size, the length of his arms and his ability to strip the ball if you lose focus. They are finally healthy and should have their best five players starting. The contribution of the Celtics bench is key. It’s been totally erratic.

Mike Tirico on Knicks/Celtics
This should be a great test for the new-look Knicks.  This is the most time Lin, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire have had to practice together. Combine the interest in Lin with the Celtics tremendous defense, the Harvard alum’s return to Boston, and the usual New York vs. Boston intrigue, and you have a great backdrop for this game.

ABC’s NBA coverage on March 4 will begin at 12:30 p.m. with Kia NBA Countdown featuring analysis from Magic Johnson, Michael Wilbon, Jon Barry and Chris Broussard.

ESPN Primetime Doubleheader
Chicago Bulls at Philadelphia 76ers – 7 p.m.
Ø  battle of first place teams – Central-leading Bulls vs. Atlantic-leading 76ers;
Ø  reigning league MVP Derrick Rose leads elite Bulls defense and passing game;
Ø  76ers and Andre Iguodala look to reestablish winning ways in second half.

Denver Nuggets at San Antonio Spurs – 9:30 p.m.
Ø  matchup of top 5 offenses;
Ø  Spurs veterans Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili focused on championship run;
Ø  talented Nuggets look to regain health in second half.

March 4 Schedule
12:30 p.m. Kia NBA Countdown
Magic Johnson, Michael Wilbon, Jon Barry, Chris Broussard

ABC 1 p.m. New York Knicks at Boston Celtics
ABC: Mike Tirico, Hubie Brown, Heather Cox
ESPN Radio: Jim Durham, Dr. Jack Ramsay

ABC; ESPN Radio 3:30 p.m. Miami Heat at L.A. Lakers
ABC: Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, Lisa Salters
ESPN Radio: Joel Meyers, Will Purdue

ABC; ESPN Radio 7 p.m. Chicago Bulls at Philadelphia 76ers
Dan Shulman, Doris Burke
ESPN; ESPN3; ESPN Mobile TV; WatchESPN

9:30 p.m. Denver Nuggets at San Antonio Spurs
Dave Pasch, Chris Mullin
ESPN; ESPN3; ESPN Mobile TV; WatchESPN

Upcoming NBA Schedule on ABC:
Sun., March 11 – Boston at L.A. Lakers at 3:30 p.m.;
Sun., April 1 – Chicago at Oklahoma City at 1 p.m.;
Sun., April 1 –    Miami at Boston at 3:30 p.m.;
Sun., April 8 – Chicago at New York at 1 p.m.;
Sun., April 15 – Miami at New York at 1 p.m.;
Sun., April 15 – Dallas at L.A. Lakers at 3:30 p.m.;
Sun., April 22 – Oklahoma City at L.A. Lakers at 3:30 p.m.

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