Jan. 16, 2012 is going to be a day full of epic NBA action in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King ,Jr.
The league has always been at the forefront of recognizing the importance of remembering the good doctor’s contributions and has scheduled an action-packed 11 games starting in the early afternoon and going late into the night, with four being broadcast on national television.
It all starts in Memphis at 1:00 p.m. near the Civil Rights Museum and ends when they blow the final whistle in Los Angeles after a 10:30 p.m. tipoff.
Keep reading to see who else is playing and where you can watch the games.
All Times EDT, away team/TV station listed first.
Orlando Magic vs. New York Knicks, 1:00 p.m, Sun Sports, MSG
Dwight Howard has been linked with this latest opponent in recent weeks and will take his Magic to the Garden, a place he isn’t shy about letting the world know he wants to be a fixture at.
Chicago Bulls vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 1:00 p.m., ESPN, ESPN3*
The Bulls have been nearly unbeatable this year at 11-2 and face a Grizzlies team that has been decimated by injury. Their star, Zach Randolph, still has at least another month of rehab before he can see the court.
This game will be nationally televised, so everyone can tune in to see if the Grizzlies can get it done and pull off the upset without their key player.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 2:00 p.m., FSN North Wisconsin/COMCAST
Will the 76ers continue playing incredible defense and scoring at will? No one expected them to be one of the top teams in the league, but they have improbably pulled it off.
It’ll be tough, but if the Bucks can pull off the upset here, they can put the wheels in motion to save their season.
Houston Rockets vs. Washington Wizards, 2:00 p.m., FSN Houston
The Rockets are wearing down and using a ton of Kyle Lowry and Kevin Martin to win games for them.
They are lucky they are facing the 1-11 Wizards today and can afford to give those guys a break while leaning on other, less-experienced players for the night.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Charlotte Bobcats, 2:00 p.m., Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Carolinas
Rookies like Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo will highlight this game between two up-and-coming teams.
While neither is a threat to be a contender anytime soon, they have great foundations and a ton of youth.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Hornets, 3:00 p.m., Cox Sports TV
The Blazers are trying to get back on track after losing three straight. There is no better team to do this against than against the Hornets, who lost their heart and soul when Chris Paul was traded.
They are 3-9 so far and have no identity without the star floor general.
New Jersey Nets vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 3:30 p.m., YES, FSN Prime Ticket
New Jersey has had a rough start to 2011-12, winning their opener and not much else. They currently sit at 3-10 and have a tough matchup against “Lob City."
However, Chris Paul may sit out and is currently listed as day-to-day with a tweaked hamstring.
Toronto Raptors vs. Atlanta Hawks, 4:00 p.m., NBA TV*
Atlanta started hot and has not fallen off despite losing Al Horford for three to four months with a pectoral tear.
Raptors big man Andrea Bargnani is also possibly sitting out, leaving the door open for a number of small-time players on both sides to step up and make big plays in this nationally televised game.
Oklahoma City vs. Boston Celtics, 8:00 p.m., TNT*
The Boston Celtics are not the team we thought they would be. This game was circled on my calendar as one of the potential best of the year, but the Thunder are simply the superior team.
Boston is 4-7 on the year and currently mired in a four-game losing streak. It’s highly doubtful they break out of it against the surging 11-2 Thunder.
It’s going to be painful to watch them get embarrassed on national TV again.
Sacramento Kings vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, 8:00 p.m., Comcast Sports Sacramento, Fox Sports North
Both sides of this matchup are experiencing growing pains as they try to pull themselves up from basement dwellers to contenders in the next few seasons.
They have the pieces, with guys like Jimmer Fredette, DeMarcus Cousins, Tyreke Evans, Ricky Rubio, Kevin Love and Michael Beasley all going to be on display tonight.
However, the inexperience is evident, and these teams are prone to mental mistakes and scoring lapses that are simply too much too overcome.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 10:30 p.m., TNT*
The two aging giants in the Western Conference are set to do battle tonight to close out the holiday, and it will be a great test of Dallas’ revived team defense against Kobe Bryant’s renewed scoring prowess.
These teams met in the postseason last year, and the Mavs dispatched the Lakers in five games on their way to their first-ever Finals victory.
Don’t think for a minute that Bryant forgot, and look for him to go crazy and do all he can to beat this team.