Basketball: London prepares for tip-off as the NBA arrives at the O2

New York Knicks take on the Detroit Pistons

With the NBA season in full swing, the New York Knicks and Detroit Pistons are traveling to London for the third regular-season game ever to be played in Europe.

NBA London Live 2013 will take place on tomorrow at the O2.  The game looks to increase the success of the NBA’s presence in Europe, with the Toronto Raptors and New Jersey Nets playing consecutive sold-out matches at The O2 in March 2011.

NBA commissioner David Stern has always been a supporter of expanding the league into European markets. Although the league has become popular in Spain and Argentina, the NBA has yet to make a considerable impact in the UK. The establishment of events such as NBA London Live, as well as a recently agreed upon television deal that will allow ESPN to show NBA games on UK screens for the remainder of the 2013 season, aim to help the NBA gain a similar level of popularity amongst UK fans.

The hype surrounding Thursday’s game has been enormous, with tickets selling out instantly and seats on third party booking websites going for as much as £335.23.

As exciting as it is to have an NBA game played in London, fans should not expect the game itself to be overly competitive. Detroit are 14-24 and sit at 10 in the Eastern Conference. However the Piston’s possess two of the game’s brightest young players in center Greg Monroe and point guard Brandon Knight.

New York comes into Thursday’s game with a record of 24-13 and are just a ½ game shy of first place in the East. The Knicks also boast forward Carmelo Anthony and center Tyson Chandler, who return to the city where they helped Team USA win the gold medal in the 2012 Olympics.

Thursday’s game will also mark the return of Knicks’ guard Iman Shumpert. Shumpert, who has been out all season with a knee injury, started 35 games as a rookie last year and is regarded as one of New York’s best defenders.

As the season nears its halfway point, The Pistons will be looking to gain some momentum in order to put themselves in position to make the playoffs, while the Knicks hope to continue to establish themselves as one of the best teams in the league.

Tip-off is at 20:00 at The 02 on Thursday.