Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport
Four games on the schedule tonight, with both the Warriors and Lakers in action. So plenty of Pacific Division drama even without that Clippers.
Just four games in the NBA tonight. (Wasn't Tuesday a really busy NBA day a few seasons back, or am I misremembering that? Anyway, it's probably the second least busy day now after Thursday.)
Golden State at Cleveland, 4:00 PM
Milwaukee at Detroit, 4:30 PM
Dallas at Portland, 7:00 PM
New Orleans at LA Lakers, 7:30 PM, NBA-TV, Time Warner Sports
The early game features the Warriors playing the Cavs in Cleveland. Golden State will probably be without Stephen Curry, who tweaked his ankle for the umpteenth time. If you didn't see it, it didn't look too bad, but it only makes sense for the Warriors to be extra-cautious with his precious ankles, especially on the second game of a back-to-back. Speaking of which, although Andrew Bogut played last night he won't be playing tonight as the Warriors are not going to be playing him in B2Bs just yet. So the Warriors, who trail the Clippers by five games, could be shorthanded in Cleveland facing a smoking-hot Kyrie Irving tonight.
The Lakers play the late game, which is the one you non-league-pass or L.A. based folks will see since it's the NBA-TV game tonight. Against the Hornets, it will be Eric Gordon's first game in L.A. this season, and the Hornets have been playing much better lately. The Lakers have won two in a row, including Sunday's big win over Oklahoma City, but it's way too early to be saying that they've got all of their problems worked out. Somehow I don't think Kobe is going to average 14 assists that rest of the season.
I still think the Lakers will make the playoffs, by the way, but that's more a reflection of a lack of confidence in Portland and Houston and Utah than an endorsement of L.A.'s other team. The "it will take 48 games to make the playoffs in the West" talk is getting a bit absurd, given that Houston and Utah are on pace to win 43 and Portland is at .500. We're well over half way through the season -- seems like actual performance is a smarter predictor than historical trends. Both Portland and Utah are allowing more points than they are scoring this season, which tells me they are sub-.500 teams at the end of the day, while the Lakers have a positive scoring differential, which tells me they are an above-.500 team. The Lakers have to make up 5 games -- which won't be easy, but is totally feasible over the course of 38 remaining games. Unless the teams above them pick up the pace (or perhaps Dallas gets on a role) it will probably only take a record of 42-40, maybe 43-39, to get into the eighth spot. If you look at that roster and say they can't go 24-14 with their backs against the wall, well, I disagree. It's also worth noting that the Lakers have played the second toughest schedule in the league so far. So I say they get in, but only time will tell.