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NBA Scoreboard Watch: Tuesday, March 24th

Which games have Western Conference playoff implications? Which teams can help the Clippers? Use this thread to discuss the other games around the NBA tonight.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Today’s NBA slate has 6 games, including 2 nationally televised games:

· Raptors at Pistons

· Lakers at Thunder

· Heat at Bucks

· Spurs at Mavericks

· 76ers at Kings

· Warriors at Blazers

Of these aforementioned games, the following 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.

San Antonio Spurs (44-25) at Dallas Mavericks (44-27)

Time: 5:00 PM PST

How to watch: FSSW, TNT

Notes: Spurs Manu Ginobili (ankle) is expected to suit up for tonight's game, but there is no guarantee that he will play. Aron Baynes (ankle) and Jeff Ayress (personal) are both out for the game. For Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki is expected to play, despite missing this morning's shoot around to be with his wife and newborn son. Devin Harris (illness) is expected to play, but his minutes will probably be restricted. JJ Barea (ankle) is out. The spurs are 8-2 in their last 10 games, winners of 3 straight. The Mavs have picked a bad time to slump, and are only 5-5 in their last 10, losers of their last 2.

Impact: The Spurs are currently tied with the Clippers in the loss column, but with the season series between the Clippers and Spurs tied, divisional conference record will become the tie breaker, and the Clips (9-3 30-14) have a nice advantage over the Spurs (4-6 23-18), so the Clippers are in the driver seat to finish ahead of the Spurs. A week ago, the Mavericks were the closest competitor for the Clippers playoff seeding, but poor play and a tough schedule has all but relegated the Mavericks to a battle for the 7th seed with Oklahoma City. Regardless of who wins this match-up, the Clippers are in control, but a Mavs victory will give the Clippers a very small cushion, without the worry of the Mavs being a threat to catch up.

Golden State Warriors (57-13) @ Portland Trail Blazers (44-24)

Time: 7:30 PM PST

How to watch: CSBy, TNT

Notes: The Warriors Klay Thompson returned to the court last night in a blowout win over the Wizards. Steve Kerr said he "didn't think" he will rest anybody for tonight's game, but the wording does keep the door open. Other than Thompson, the Warriors are healthy, and would like to remain that way for the remainder of the regular season. The Blazers have taken a page out of the Rockets book of injuries, with 4 key players either out or doubtful for tonight's game. LaMarcus Aldridge (finger), Chris Kaman (shoulder) and Nicholas Batum (back) are all doubtful, while Wesley Matthews (achilles) is out.

Impact: There is no way anyone, not even the Clippers, will catch the Warriors in the west. The Blazers sit just 1 game ahead of the Clippers in the loss column, but have a comfortable 5 game in the loss column lead over the Thunder for the Northwest division title, which will give them the 4 seed, regardless of record. There is one more game remaining in the schedule between the Clips and Blazers, and if the Clips can take care of business, and win that match-up, they will control their destiny for home court in the first round. If the Blazers lose this game, it gives the Clippers a slight cushion. I hate to say it, but go Warriors!

Los Angeles Lakers (18-50) at Oklahoma City Thunder (40-30)

Time: 7:30 PM PST

How to watch: FSO, TWCSN

Notes: The Lakers are a mess. They are in tank mode, and are injury riddled. Nick Young (knee), Julius Randle (leg), Steve Nash (retired), Ronnie Price (elbow) and Kobe Bryant (shoulder) are all out. They are trying to lose to get a high draft pick, but can't even do that right, as they won their last game to the much better at tanking 76ers. The Thunder are dealing with injuries themselves, with Andre Roberson (ankle), Serge Ibaka (knee), Nick Collison (ankle), and Kevin Durant (foot) all out of tonight's game.

Impact: The Thunder are sitting as the 8 seed, with a nice 3 game in the loss column cushion between them and the two teams directly below them (Pelicans and Suns). Despite injuries, the Thunder are surging at the right time, with a 7-3 record in their last 10 games, winners of 3 straight. The big impact will be if they can continue this great play, while Dallas continues to struggle, they actually have a chance, although slim, of the 7 seed. They currently sit 3 back in the loss column to Dallas. Dallas currently leads the season series 2-1, with one more meeting between the two on April 1 in Oklahoma City. Dallas currently has a better conference record than the Thunder, so the Thunder need to pass the Mavs to get the 7 seed.  If the Thunder can win that game, they own the division record tie breaker, so they will just have to catch Dallas for the 7 seed . This impacts the Clippers because whoever falls to the 8 seed will face the Warriors in the first round. As of now, it looks like the Clippers will more than likely stay in the 4-5 match-up, which means there is a good chance they play either the Warriors, or the Mavericks/Thunder in the second round.