· Nets at Hornets
· Hawks at Magic
· Bulls at Raptors
· Trail Blazers at Jazz
· Thunder at Spurs
· Kings at Suns
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.
Houston Rockets (47-23) at New Orleans Pelicans (37-33)
Time: 5:00 PM PST
How to watch: FSNO, RTSW
Notes: Houston has been battling injuries, but are getting a key piece of the puzzle back, in Dwight Howard. Howard has missed the Rockets last 26 games with a knee injury. He is expected to start tonight, but his minutes should be limited. Corey Brewer (oblique) and Josh Smith (ankle) are both probable, while Patrick Beverly (wrist) is out. For the Pelicans, both Ryan Anderson (knee) and Jrue Holiday (leg) are out. Both teams have been mediocre the last 10 games, Houston (6-4) and New Orleans (5-5).
Impact: The Rockets are currently sitting as the 3 seed in the west, 2 games ahead of the Clippers in the loss column, and 2 behind the Grizzlies for the 2 seed. The Pelicans are sitting 3 behind the Thunder in the loss column for the 8th and final seed.
Time: 6:30 PM PST
How to watch: ESPN, FSSW, FSOK
Notes: The Thunder are battling injuries, but are still winning. Nick Collison (ankle), Serge Ibaka (knee), Andre Roberson (ankle), and Kevin Durant (foot) are all out for tonight's game. For the Spurs, they are reletivily healthy, with the recent return of Manu Ginobili. Aron Baynes (ankle) is out. Both the Thunder and Spurs are 7-3 in their last 10 games.
Impact: The Thunder are holding on to the 8 seed (both the Suns and Pelicans are 3 games behind in the loss column), and have a slim chance of catching the Mavericks for the 7 seed (3 games back in the loss column), despite injuries to key players. They are riding a 4 game winning streak coming into the game. The Spurs are in the thick of the race for the 3-7 seed with the Rockets, Blazers, Clippers, Spurs, and Mavericks separated by 4 games in the loss column.
Cleveland Cavaliers (46-26) at Memphis Grizzlies (50-21)
Time: 5:00 PM PST
How to watch: FSOH, SPSO
Notes: Both the Cavs and the Grizzlies are relativly healthy. For the Cavs, Anderson Varejao (achilles) is out. For the Grizzlies, Courtney Lee (hand) is questionable. Cleveland has been peaking at the right time, going 8-2 in their last 10, while Memphis, who have been dealing with some injuries, are 6-4.
Impact: The Grizzlies are currently the 2 seed in the West, with no chance at catching the Warriors at 1. They are 2 up in the loss column to the Rockets, and 4 up on the Clippers. If they continue to hover around .500 basketball over the final games, and the Clippers can continue to win during their soft schedule, there is a slim chance that the Clippers could catch them for the 2 seed, which was not even a thought as recent as a couple weeks ago.
Portland Trail Blazers (44-25) at Utah Jazz (31-39)
Time: 6:00 PM PST
How to watch: ROOT, CSNW
Notes: The Blazers are battling injuries at the wrong time. LaMarcus Aldridge (finger) and Nicolas Batum (back) are both questionable, while Chris Kaman (shoulder) and Wesley Matthews (achilles) are both out. The Jazz have injuries of their own, but it doesn't really matter, since they are out of the playoff picture. Gordon Hayward (shoulder) is doubtful, and was not able to participate in the team shoot around. Rodney Hood (illness), Alec Burks (shoulder), and Carrick Felix (knee) are all out. Portland has lost 5 straight, and need to take advantage of the absence of Hayward, and get back on the right track. Utah is 7-3 in their last 10 games.
Impact: The Blazers are struggling and injured at the wrong time. Although they more than likely will finish as the 4 seed in the playoffs (They lead the Northwest division by 5 games in the loss column over the Thunder), their recent struggles have dropped them to a tie with the Clippers in the loss column. There is 1 more match-up between the Clips and Blazers, thus the Clippers are in control of their 1st round home court situation. Utah has been one of the hottest teams since the all-star break, but unfortunately, they are in the West. If they were in the East, they would be tied with the Celtics for the 8th and final playoff spot.