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NBA schedule 2012: Suns face two big tests on back-to-back nights

The Suns have to deal with the loaded Lakers and the defending champion Heat this weekend.

Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE

The Phoenix Suns will play two games this weekend against two of the top teams in the league -- on paper, at least.

The Suns will visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday at 10:30 pm ET in a game between Pacific Division rivals. It will be the first game between the two clubs since Steve Nash was traded to the Lakers over the summer and former Suns coach Mike D'Antoni could possibly coach his first game since taking over the Lakers. The Lakers' record doesn't say it is an elite team, but it is loaded with talent and is slowly alleviating itself of recent turmoil, so the Suns will have their hands full.

The schedule doesn't get any easier as the Suns host the defending champion Miami Heat on the following night at 9 pm ET. The Heat bring their high-octane attack led by the incomparable LeBron James and a legion of shooters.

Friday features nationally-televised games with the Utah Jazz at the Philadelphia 76ers as well as the New York Knicks traveling to face the Memphis Grizzlies, with both games on ESPN.

Saturday will be highlighted by the Denver Nuggets facing the San Antonio Spurs and the Chicago Bulls heading west to face the Los Angeles Clippers.

On Sunday, the Cleveland Cavaliers will play the Sixers on NBA TV. The rest of the night features the Houston Rockets at the Lakers and Indiana Pacers at the Knicks, among other matchups.