Today’s slate of NBA games features 5 games:
· Atlanta Hawks at Charlotte Hornets
· New York Knicks at Chicago Bulls
· Golden State Warriors at Milwaukee Bucks
· Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz
· Denver Nuggets at Portland Trailblazers
Of these games, there are few that could have (a bit of) implications on the Western Conference playoff picture and have been duly highlighted below. They have been ordered by potential entertainment. For a general update on the playoff picture, SB Nation offers a detailed update here.
Golden State Warriors (59-13) at Milwaukee Bucks (36-36)
Time: 5:30 PM PST
Notes: The Bucks are 21-14 at home, while the Warriors are 25-11 on the road. For the Bucks, Jabari Parker has been out for the season with a knee injury since December. They also lost Damien Inglis for the season in January. Golden State will be without Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. Both have been marked for Rest and out for this game.
Implications: Odds are it’ll be a one-sided affair. Still, with the Bucks at home, they’ll potentially put up a good fight against a Warriors team already resting 2 key contributors and on the second game of a back to back on the road. Granted, the Warriors dispatched the Grizzlies pretty easily last night and the Bucks are only 11-18 against the West. Still, in his first season, Coach Kidd has done alright for MIL; the team hasn’t been too great, but are seeded 6th (by 3 games over the Heat) in the East and it wouldn’t shock me if they gave the 3rd seed a decent run for their money (either Chicago or Toronto most likely).
Oklahoma City Thunder (41-31) at Utah Jazz (31-41)
Time: 6:00 PM PST
Notes: The Jazz are 5-5 in their last 10 games, but are on a 4 game losing streak. OKC is 7-3 in their last 10, but lost their last game. Injury wise, OKC has lost Durant for the season after another recent surgery. Nick Collison will be out for the rest of March. Ibaka is out till mid-April. For the Jazz, Alec Burks has been Out for the Season since December. Derrick favors is Doubtful with a back injury. Rodney Hood is Probable while he battles an illness.
Implications: At this point, OKC is just fighting to stay the 8th seed. Westbrook will continue to put up absurd numbers as he does his best Kobe impression of dragging a team to the playoffs. While OKC has a 3 game lead in the loss column on the Hornets, the Hornets have already won the seasonal series, so the lead is more like 2 games. With Durant out and Ibaka back basically just in time for the playoffs, it may be best to hope that OKC just loses and lets the Pelicans take the 8th seed.
Denver Nuggets (28-45) at Portland Trailblazers (46-25)
Time: 7:00 PM PST
Notes: Portland has the second best home record in the Western Conference (28-7), whereas Denver has an 11-25 record on the road. Both teams played last night. Injury wise, Darrell Arthur is Questionable for the Nuggets. For the Trailblazers, nothing new; Wes Matthews is Out for the Season. In his place (basically) is Aaron Afflalo. In his 17 games with Portland (11 games started), Afflalo has averaged 29.8 minutes, but only 9.9 points a game (along with 2.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists) on a measly 40.2% shooting (and 37.3% from 3-point).
Implications: Portland basically has a playoff seed locked up (though unofficial still). They’re tied with the Clippers in losses, but the Clippers have 2 more wins and a lead on the unfinished seasonal series (2-1). While it’d be nice to see Denver win, it’s highly unlikely unless Danilo Gallinari rediscovers some hot shooting.