After four days of fun distractions that had no bearing on the standings, the NBA is back at it tonight. Hurray for basketball that counts.
The period after the All Star break is frequently referred to as "the second half" of the NBA season, but my personal feelings on precise language and frankly math make it impossible for me to do so. The NBA season is long past the mid point, and in fact we're much closer to the final third of the season than the final half. Still, the shorthand is certainly nice -- it's much easier to say "the second half of the season starts tonight" than it is to say "the period after the All Star break starts tonight."
But I won't succumb. Let's just say the remainder of the NBA season starts tonight, as real games resume after four days off. I like the All Star weekend fine, but truth be told, I like the games that count a lot more, so I'm excited to have real games back.
It's a busy Tuesday night, with nine games on the schedule. Among the teams in action tonight are the Spurs, Grizzlies, Nuggets and Warriors, so there are plenty of important results for Clippers fans to be following.
Toronto at Washington, 4:00 PM
Charlotte at Orlando, 4:00 PM
Milwaukee at Brooklyn, 4:30 PM
Memphis at Detroit, 4:30 PM
Chicago at New Orleans, 5:00 PM
Boston at Denver, 6:00 PM, NBA-TV
Golden State at Utah, 6:00 PM
San Antonio at Sacramento, 7:00 PM
Phoenix at Portland, 7:00 PM
The Grizzlies are in Detroit, and while Memphis did win three straight before the break, none of those were on the road -- we'll see how this team travels without Rudy Gay. It could be an emotional night Tayshaun Prince who returns to face his former team. Did anyone catch Charles Barkley in the All Star Game pre-game on Sunday saying that Memphis would finish third in the West? At least on that one we can watch him be wrong -- when he says stuff like "Memphis is one of the teams that has a chance to beat Miami in the Finals" he is safe, since Memphis will never get to the Finals. But Memphis will never get to third in the West, and will likely drop behind Denver to fifth, so this time Chuck's way out on a limb. Note that the Grizzlies have 19 road games left on their schedule, tied for the most in the NBA. The Clippers have 11 road games left. Yup, it's inevitable that Memphis will pass the Clippers, Chuck, obviously.
The NBA-TV game as the Celtics facing the Nuggets in Denver, and it could be a good one. The Nuggets are great at home of course, but the Celtics have been playing surprisingly well since losing Rajon Rondo. These two teams played a triple-overtime thriller last week in Boston, eventually won by the Celtics, so Denver will be looking for a little revenge. Clipper fans can watch the game with a close eye on Kevin Garnett to see how his defense might help the team, given the current rumors.
The Warriors are visiting the Jazz, which is terrible news for a Golden State team that has lost five straight by a combined 92 points. On the road in Utah is no place to end a losing streak. A couple weeks ago the Warriors had visions of catching the Clippers for the Pacific Division title and the third seed in the West -- but if they lose this game, they'll drop into a virtual tie with Utah in the 6-7 spot. Suddenly, the Lakers are eyeing the Warriors as the team that might make room for them in the top eight.
The Spurs continue their rodeo trip with a stop in Sacramento. San Antonio has won 14 of their last 15, and they'll no doubt win tonight as a warm up for their big game against the Clippers Thursday.