USA TODAY Sports
Another busy night in the association, with big games between the Rockets and Thunder and the renewal of the Celtics-Lakers rivalry in L.A.
It's another busy night in the NBA as play resumes following the All Star break. Of the 30 NBA teams, 29 of them played either last night or are playing tonight, with a handful pulling a back-to-back. The only team that doesn't play a game until tomorrow? Your Los Angeles Clippers, who played more games than any other NBA team before the break, and are already benefiting from the more leisurely schedule left ahead of them.
With 11 games slated for tonight, most of the Clippers rivals are in action.
Memphis at Toronto, 4:00 PM
Detroit at Charlotte, 4:00 PM
New York at Indiana, 4:00 PM
New Orleans at Cleveland, 5:00 PM, ESPN
Miami at Atlanta, 5:00 PM
Brooklyn at Milwaukee, 5:00 PM
Oklahoma City at Houston, 5:00 PM
Philadelphia at Minnesota, 5:00 PM
Orlando at Dallas, 5:30 PM
Boston at LA Lakers, 7:30 PM, ESPN, Time Warner Sports
Phoenix at Golden State, 7:30 PM
We don't pay a lot of attention to the Eastern Conference, but Indiana and New York are two teams that could very well wind up in the Eastern Conference Finals facing the Heat. The game will be a contrast in styles as the Pacers pit their top-rated defense against the Knicks high-scoring offense.
Memphis has won four straight and tonight they visit their old pal Rudy Gay and the Toronto Raptors. Is it possible that trade helped both teams? The Raptors have clearly been better since with Gay, and the Grizzlies have been playing very well lately (though admittedly against weak competition).
As Clippers fans, we realize better than most that a relatively small number of teams are the ones that almost always appear on national TV, so I probably shouldn't complain, but I have to say that New Orleans at Cleveland (a game featuring two teams going pretty much nowhere) is a terrible choice, particularly when Oklahoma City is playing at Houston at the same time. That Thunder-Rockets game only features the two highest scoring teams in the league and major implications at both the top and the bottom of the Western Conference playoff picture -- why would anyone want to see that? Not to mention that it's a Durant-Westbrook-Harden reunion. The Clippers would love to get some help from the Rockets tonight, and given the fact that the Thunder have only beaten one winning team on the road since January 1, it could happen.
The Lakers have their 20th "fresh start" of the season tonight, and we'll see if this one goes any better. They should not lack for motivation with their backs against the wall and facing their old nemesis Boston, but of course that was what we thought about the last game before the All Star break when they came out completely flat against the Clippers, so there's really no telling with that team.
Finally, if Golden State doesn't end their six game losing streak tonight at home against the worst team in the Western Conference, then their season is probably over. The Warriors are really struggling, but a loss to the Suns would be devastating and you'd have to believe the free fall would end only after the Dubs are out of the playoff picture.