The Los Angeles Lakers (32-9) will visit the Cleveland Cavaliers (32-11) at 8:00PM on TNT Thursday night, where both Western and Eastern Conference powerhouses will collide.
The bigger headline going into the game involves the two superstars leading their respective teams, Kobe Bryant for the Lakers and LeBron James for the Cavaliers.
It seems that James has distanced himself from Bryant in regards to the 2009-2010 MVP award due to the recent stretch of games. Bryant has been battling both finger and back injuries, which has limited his production over his last five games to a meager 15.8 points, three assists, and 2.6 rebounds per contest.
Those numbers are not Kobe numbers, but the Lakers are still 4-1 over their last five games, which really shows how good they are. It has been evident for the past year or two that Kobe has really embraced the team aspect of the game, whereas his rival, LeBron James, has a little bit of growing up to do in those regards.
While Kobe Bryant was winning his fourth NBA Championship last season, LeBron James was promoting his new documentary and a book. Bryant has embraced the willingness to pursue a championship like Russell and Jordan did in their respective eras, but I have not yet seen that from James.
Is James finally on that mission? Well, over the past five games it seems that James is willing to do whatever he can do to get the Cavaliers a No. 1 seed in the NBA playoffs.
James has been on a tear of late, averaging 34.8 points, eight assists, and eight rebounds over his past five games. His 29.6 points, 7.8 assists, and 7.2 rebounds per game over the season is starting to look like one of the best statistical seasons ever.
Oh wait, it's also a contract year for LeBron, like he has anything else to prove.
LeBron has had Kobe's number all year, starting with the Christmas Day shellacking of the Lakers in Los Angeles 102-87, but will tomorrow night be different?
We'll have to wait and see, but my money is on LeBron.