The NBA's runaway early season leader returns to the court tonight as part of the league's 11-game schedule. The 29-and-3 Celtics are a league-best 16-and-1 at home ahead of their meeting with visiting Charlotte.
Last season's surprise team from the Western Conference is on the road to play a Portland team that could be its successor. The Trail Blazers, who lost Number-1 draft pick Greg Oden to injury before what would have been his rookie campaign, are riding a three-game winning streak and at 21-and-13 are tied with Denver for the Northwest Division lead. The Warriors, who upset top-seeded Dallas in last season's playoffs, are 20-and-15. That's good for third in the Pacific Division, four-and-a-half games behind first-place Phoenix. The Suns host Indiana tonight.
The Mavericks host a Central Division-leading Detroit team that's looking to rebound from its first loss in 12 games. Dallas has won four straight and eight of its last 10 to pull within a half-game of idle San Antonio atop the Southwest Division standings. The Mavericks are tied with the New Orleans Hornets, who will be looking for a fourth-straight W when they host a Lakers club that's also won three in a row and is just a game and a-half behind Phoenix.
In other pro hoops action it will be Atlanta hosting Cleveland, Philadelphia at Toronto, New Jersey home to Seattle, Houston putting a three-game win streak on the line at New York, Miami looking to halt an eight-game skid when it plays at Milwaukee and the Southeast Division-leading Orlando Magic drag a three-game losing streak into L.A. to face the Clippers.