Today’s NBA slate has 12 games, with 2 games on NBA TV.
· Bucks at 76ers
· Magic at Heat
· Bulls at Nets
· Knicks at Hawks
· Pelicans at Timberwolves
· Lakers at Kings
Of these aforementioned games, the following 3 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.
Memphis Grizzlies (54-26) @ Golden State Warriors (65-15)
Time: 7:30 PM PST
Notes: For the Grizzlies, Mike Conley (foot), Marc Gasol (ankle), and Jeff Green (back) are questionable, while Tony Allen (hamstring) is still out. The Warriors will possibly be without Leandro Barbosa, who missed the last game with a sore achilles. The Grizzlies are coming off a loss to the Clippers, and have gone just 5-5 in their last 10 games. The Warriors have won 21 of their last 25 games, and avoided their first 3 game losing streak of the season with a victory over the Blazers a few nights ago.
Impact: The Grizzlies are in the messy Western Conference playoff race, tied in the loss column with the Clippers, Spurs, and Rockets. They can still finish anywhere between the 2nd seed and 6th seed, due to the many scenarios still at play. The Grizzlies own the individual tie breaker over the Spurs and Rockets, while the Clippers own the tie breaker against the Grizzlies, but if more than 2 teams are tied at the end of the season, it gets tricky. Our very own Adithya did his best to break down the many different scenarios. The Warriors are locked in to the 1 seed in the west, and own home court throughout the playoffs. Their only concern is to remain healthy for the start of the playoffs.
Houston Rockets (54-26) @ Charlotte Hornets (33-47)
Time: 4:00 PM PST
Notes: For the Rockets, Dwight Howard (rest), Donatas Motiejunas (back), and Patrick Beverly (wrist) are all out. The Hornets will be without PJ Hairston (knee), Lance Stephenson (toe), Al Jefferson (knee), Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (ankle), and Cody Zeller (shoulder). The Rockets have won 7 of 10, while the Hornets have lost 7 of 10.
Impact: The Rockets are another team that the Clippers are battling for playoff positioning. Despite winning 7 of 10, the Rockets have dropped to 6th place in the west. If the standings stay as is, the Clippers and Rockets would meet in the first round of the playoffs. There are still way too many scenarios that can change the playoff seeding. Again, check out Adithya's coverage of the confusing playoff picture. The Hornets are out of the playoff race.
Portland Trail Blazers (51-29) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (43-37)
Time: 5:00 PM PST
Notes: The Blazers LaMarcus Aldridge (foot), Aaron Afflalo (shoulder), Dorell Wright (hand), and Wesley Matthews (achilles) are all out for tonight's game. The Thunder will be missing the services of Serge Ibaka (knee), and Kevin Durant (foot). The Blazers have won 6 of their last 10 games, while the Thunder have lost 7 of 10.
Impact: The Blazers now know that they will finish as the 4 seed, but have the 6th best record in the NBA. This means that they will open the playoffs on the road to any one of the Clippers, Spurs, Grizzlies or Rockets. In fact, at this point, they seem to be resting key players dealing with injuries to prepare for the upcoming brutal Western Conference playoffs. The Thunder are still battling for a spot in the playoffs. They are currently tied in the loss column with the Pelicans for the 8th and final spot, but New Orleans owns the tie breaker in head-to-head match-up, so the Thunder need to win 1 more game than the Pelicans in the final 2 games of the season.
New Orleans Pelicans (43-37) @ Minnesota Timberwolves (16-64)
Time: 5:00 PM PST
Notes: The Pelicans are pretty much at full strength, only
missing Jrue Holiday (leg) is questionable who has been out since January. The Timberwolves might only have 6 players in uniform for tonight's game, with Kevin Martin (illness) and Robbie Hummel (back) questionable, and Anthony Bennett (ankle), Gorgui Dieng (concussion), Gary Neal (ankle), Ricky Rubio (ankle), Kevin Garnett (knee), Nikola Pekovic (achilles), and Shabazz Muhammad (finger) all out. The Pelicans have gone 6-4 in their last 10, while the Wolves have lost 10 straight games.
Impact: For the Pelicans, it's easy: win out, and they are in the playoffs. If they can win their last 2 games, or win 1 game along with a Thunder loss, or both teams lose their final 2 games, the Pelicans are in. Their prize would be a first round match-up with the Golden State Warriors, who beat them in 3 of 4 meetings this year. The Timberwolves are out of the playoffs, and battling the New York Knicks for worst record, and thus, best odds in the NBA Draft Lottery.