Today’s NBA slate has 11 games:
· Pelicans at Clippers
· Spurs at Hawks
· Cavs at Bucks
· Knicks at Raptors
· Heat at OKC
· Pistons at Celtics
· Nuggets at Magic
· Wizard at Kings
· Hornets at Wolves
· Mavs at Suns
· 76ers at Lakers
Of these aforementioned games, the following (not including the Clippers’ game) may be of particular interest to you as the playoff race comes down the final stretch. I have ordered these games by their level of entertainment/interest.
Dallas Mavericks (44-26) at Phoenix Suns (37-33)
Time: 6:00 PM PST
How to watch: FSN, SPSO
Notes: Marcus Thorton of the Suns is Questionable with a toe injury. The Suns are also Doubtful that Brandon Knight and Alex Len will be available after sustaining ankle injuries.
Impact: Dallas isn’t really a threat to catch the Clippers because they have a gauntlet of a remaining schedule. The Suns’ playoff hopes are on life support. Meanwhile, the Clippers are well within striking range of the 3rd seeded Houston Rockets because only 2 games separate them in the loss column. The seasonal series between the Rockets and Clippers was split 2-2, but the Clippers are 9-3 while the Rockets are 5-6 in their respective divisions. So the Clippers will get the tiebreaker if the teams are tied at season’s end. This all matters to this game because the Mavericks are fighting with San Antonio for 6th and 7th seed positioning. While the first reaction is to always want every Western Conference playoff team, that’s not the Clippers, to lose, I want the Mavs to win this one. I’d prefer to match up against Dallas instead of the Spurs if the Clippers were able to grab the 3rd seed. Likewise, I want the Spurs matching up against a top 2 seed. So ideally, the Mavs can put themselves ahead of the Spurs in the standing for the 6th seed. Currently, the Mavs are 1 game behind the Spurs. The Spurs and Mavs also have 2 games coming up against each other. This will be important because their seasonal series is split 1-1. Thus, as a Clippers' fan, it's time to pick sides.
San Antonio Spurs (43-25) @ Atlanta Hawks (53-16)
Time: 12 PM PST
How to watch: FSSW, SPSO, C+ D
Notes: Manu Ginobili is still expected to be out with a sprained right ankle. Mike Scott, of the Hawks, is out until mid-April with a toe injury. Initially feared as a broken toe, it seems Scott’s injury is only limited to being an acute toe sprain.
Impact: The Spurs are tied in the loss column with the Clippers, but 2 games back on wins. The season series with the Clippers was split, so it’ll come down to divisional records as the tie breaker. The Clippers are 9-3, the Spurs are 4-6. Ideally the Spurs lose this one and fall back behind the Mavericks.
Miami Heat (32-36) at Oklahoma City Thunder (39-30)
Time: 12 PM PST
How to watch: SUN, FSCK
Notes: Chris Bosh was lost for the season. Josh McRoberts will travel with the Heat on this road trip, but his return from a torn ligament in his right knee is still unknown. Russell Westbrook meanwhile gets to continue to run his own ship as Durant got elevated to being Out-Indefinitely while Ibaka is still out for a bunch more weeks.
Impact: The Thunder continue to cling to the 8th seed. They have fallen 4 games behind the Mavs (7th seed) and 5 games behind the Clippers/Spurs (5/6th seeds) in the loss column. Odds are, with their injuries, the Thunder will either make it as an 8th seed or fall out of the playoffs. As I’ve mentioned before, it comes down to who you want in the playoffs facing the Warriors.