Today’s slate of NBA games has 12 games:
· Toronto Raptors at Orlando Magic
· Charlotte Hornets at Atlanta Hawks
· Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers
· Indiana Pacers at Detroit Pistons
· Washington Wizards at Brooklyn Nets
· Milwaukee Bucks at New York Knicks
· Phoenix Suns at New Orleans Hornets
· San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets
· Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets
· Sacramento Kings at Oklahoma City Thunder
· Memphis Grizzlies at Utah Jazz
· Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers
Of these games, the following affect the Western Conference playoff picture and have been ordered in the sequence of possible interest.
San Antonio Spurs (53-26) at Houston Rockets (53-25)
Time: 5:00 PM PST
Injuries: The Rockets have gotten health(ier). Kostas Papanikolaou (ankle) is Possible. Just Donatas Motiejunas (back) and Patrick Beverley (wrist) are Out for the Season. The Spurs have Marco Belinelli (groin) as Questionable and Tiago Splitter (calf) Out for this game.
Notes: At 38, Duncan has still appeared 74 games this year and played a robust 28.8 minutes per game. He’s totaled 45,738 minutes in his regular season career (and 8,902 in the playoffs) so far. Kobe has logged 46,774 minutes in the regular season (and 8,641 in the playoffs). The mileage between the 2 is thus pretty similar: Duncan at 54,640 minutes total and Kobe at 55,415. Duncan will still get the rest of this regular and post season to log even more minutes in.
Impact: The big one. Rockets are tied for record with the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies have a relatively easy game at Utah, so Houston gets the pressure to hold serve. The Clippers and Spurs are only 1 game in the loss column behind. The Spurs would clinch the seasonal series with Houston with a win and outright go ahead of Houston in the standings, with a win.
Memphis Grizzlies (52-25) at Utah Jazz (36-42)
Time: 6:00 PM PST
Injuries: The Jazz lost Alec Burks (shoulder) for the season. The Grizzlies’ Tony Allen (hamstring) is Out until April 13 (at the Warriors). Allen may very well not be rushed back for that game either if their seeding is not on the line at that point.
Notes: The Jazz have been surprising competitive this year. They were 25-57 Last year. An already 11 game improvement! That said, if the Jazz care, they are only 1 game behind the Pacers for the 11th worse record in the NBA and the Suns continued pathetic play has put the Suns only 2 games behind the Jazz for the 12th worse record. It’s good to see basketball getting better in Utah.
Impact: The Grizzlies must keep winning if it wants to hold onto to the 2nd seed (and thus a first-round match with Dallas). Right now it has a better divisional record than Houston that gives Memphis the "divisional winner" status. In fact, the Rockets can no longer finish with a better divisional record than the Grizzlies. Memphis also owns the tiebreaker with San Antonio. For the Clippers, they still control their own destiny against the Grizzlies, but it wouldn’t hurt if the Grizzlies helped out by losing. More importantly would be a tough fought game that goes into triple overtime that was also delayed for 2 hours after a water pipe breaks in the arena. Thanks Jazz!
Phoenix Suns (39-40) at New Orleans Pelicans (42-36)
Injuries: The Suns will not get Alex Len (nose) or Brandon Knight (heel) back until mid-April. Kendall Marshall (knee) has been Out for the Season. The Pelicans are only without Jrue Holiday (leg) till Mid-April.
Time: 5:00 PM PST
Notes: The Suns scored a pitiful 69 points for their game on Tuesday against the Hawks. It did not help that Bledsoe received his second ejection of the season in that game for successive technical fouls while arguing a non-call.
Impact: The Pelicans have the seasonal series tiebreaker with OKC. This has put them ahead of the Thunder even though they have identical records. OKC has a relatively easier home game, so the pressure is on the Pelicans to hold serve. Ideally, Clippers’ fans want the Pelicans to win. A healthier Pelicans will (probably) give the Warriors more problems than OKC.
Sacramento Kings (27-51) at Oklahoma City Thunder (42-36)
Time: 5:00 PM PST
Injuries: The Thunder are Questionable with Nick Collison (knee) and will be without Ibaka (knee) till Mid-April. Durant (foot) is Out for the Season. The Kings lost Eric Moreland (shoulder) for the season, Darren Collison (hip) till Mid-April, and are Questionable with Rudy Gay (head) and Nik Stauskas (back).
Notes: The Kings suddenly have a chance to catch Orlando who is only 2 losses ahead of the Kings after the Magic have won 3 in a row.
Impact: OKC must keep winning if it wants the 8th seed. Nothing more to say really.
Dallas Mavericks (47-31) at Denver Nuggets (29-49)
Time: 6:00 PM PST
Injuries: The Mavs’ Chandler Parsons (knee) is Out for this game. The Nuggets’ Darrel Arthur (calf) and Jameer Nelson (hip) are Questionable.
Notes: Denver is 2 games back of Sacramento for the 6th worse record in the NBA. Denver needs to keep losing to have a chance.
Impact: Dallas is basically your 7th seed. They just need to get their heads together if they want any chance to put up a fight in the first-round. They have been thoroughly underwhelming after starting the season off in hot fashion.