Tuesday night in the NBA

Andrew Richardson-USA TODAY Spor

Rockets-Thunder is at the center of an important night of basketball in the Western Conference playoff race.

There are seven games in the NBA tonight, several of them of vital importance to the crazy Western Conference playoff races. As Lucas explained in detail yesterday, this is a BIG WEEK in the Wild Wild West, with playoff implications everywhere you look every night.

Boston at Indiana 4:00 PM

Sacramento at Detroit 4:30 PM

San Antonio at Chicago 5:00 PM

Portland at Memphis 5:00 PM

Milwaukee at Minnesota 5:00 PM

Houston at Oklahoma City 5:00 PM NBATV

Dallas at Golden State 7:30 PM

The Clippers beat the Suns last night, and those are the only two teams among the top ten in the conference not in action tonight -- with six of the contenders facing each other and the Spurs heading into Chicago to face the scorching hot Bulls.

If you're still holding out hope for the number one seed, then the Bulls simply must beat the Spurs (winners of six straight) tonight. The Clippers need San Antonio to lose five more games than they themselves lose -- with just 20 games left on the Spurs schedule. It's almost certainly not going to happen (no matter how much rest Gregg Popovich decides to give his geezers), but a Bulls win would be a nice start.

On the other hand, the Thunder once seemed equally unassailable if not more so, but they are now truly vulnerable. With OKC (currently in second) hosting Houston (arguably the hottest team in the league, and currently third mere percentage points ahead of the Clippers) there's really no bad outcome here for the Clippers -- one of the teams ahead of them is going to lose. In the end, you'd want the Rockets to come out on top tonight, as it would aid in the Clippers quest for the second seed. At the end of the day, there's little difference between the third and fourth seeds (each hosts as home court advantage in the first round but not in the second, assuming the seedings hold to form), but the second seed could make a big difference.

Likewise, some West team will have to lose when Portland visits Memphis and Dallas heads to Oakland to play the Warriors. All four teams are behind the Clippers and likely to stay there if the Clippers continue on their own excellent form, so rooting interests are more or less just that. Which teams do you want to win (or lose, as the case may be)? In other words, GO BLAZERS and GO MAVS!

Use this thread to discuss the games and the race. Thunder-Rockets is on NBA-TV, which is perfect since it has the broadest Clippers implications (Climplications?).

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