• Dennis Dow

NBA Games of the Week Feb. 26th through Mar. 4th

Oct. 12, 2017 - Source: Jamie Squire/Getty Images North America

Our first full week of NBA games after the All-Star Break is a welcome sight and we are getting closer and closer to the playoffs. Let’s get to the games of the week.

Monday February 26th

Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz (9PM EST)

This is the final game of the season series between these two teams. They have played three times before and the Rockets have won each game in convincing fashion. The first game by 27 points, the second game by 11 points, and the third game by 21 points. Those games all happened before Christmas and these teams are not the same.

The Rockets might be the best team in the league. They show up for big games and they are blowing the doors off of good teams in the NBA. They seem hungry and they already opened up their post All-Star break games with a convincing win against Minnesota by 18 points. They have continued to boast the best offense in the NBA and have remained a top 10 defense. They will have a tough task in Utah, but they have been up for games pretty much all season.

The Jazz have really changed as a team since the end of January and pretty much all of February. They seemed to have found themselves as a team and while rookie Donovan Mitchell has gotten a great deal of love for the wins, they are getting great basketball from Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert. They will need more from those three if they hope to beat this Rockets team.

Tuesday February 27th

Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat (7:30PM EST)

This is the third game in the four game season series between these two teams. The 76ers have won the first two games. The first by 6 and the second by 2. Both of those games were in Philadelphia and as the series shifts to Miami, this game is extremely important for the Miami Heat.

The 76ers have won 6 games in a row dating back to before the All-Star break and they have handled themselves well in their quest to stay afloat in the East playoff race. They are a young team that is blessed with one of the easiest remaining schedules in the league, but that does not mean they do not have important games. The 76ers could clinch the season series with Miami if they get a win. With that win, they would hold the advantage over Miami if the two teams were to tie. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons seem up for the challenge and had a monster game against the Bulls last Thursday.

The Heat are the losers of three straight games dating back to the All-Star break and they are struggling in close games. Each of those three games was decided by three points or less. Their latest, a one point overtime loss to the Pelicans. The Heat are heading home for five game home stand and this will be game number three of that home stand. The Heat have to get this game if they hope to avoid losing the season series to the 76ers.

Wednesday February 28th

Oklahoma City Thunder at Dallas Mavericks (8:30PM EST)

This is the final game of the season series between these two teams. The Thunder took the first game winning by 13, but the last two have been won by the Mavericks, by 16 points and 3 points. In order to move up the Western Conference Standings, the Thunder have to get games like this.

The Thunder are a good basketball team. They have talent that can just take over games. With Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Steven Adams you are in any game. Unfortunately, the Thunder seem to have trouble getting up for games against bad teams. They have two losses to the Mavericks this season. It took a buzzing beating three pointer to take care of the lowly Kings on Thursday. The Thunder can be contenders, but they can’t be taken seriously until they take care of business against inferior teams.

The Mavericks are bad this season and things got worse with the news of their office environment over the past few years. Lost in all of that was Mark Cuban’s humongous fine for suggesting that the Mavericks should tank. They have nothing to play for and they are one of many teams that seems to want to lose. They have had success against the Thunder this season and could play spoiler down the stretch.

Thursday March 1st

Minnesota Timberwolves at Portland Trail Blazers (10:30PM EST)

This is the final game in the season series between these two teams. The Timberwolves took the first two games by one point and 17 points. The Trail Blazers were able to take the third game by 9 points. This is an important game for two playoff teams that could be huge in determining seeding.

The extent of Jimmy Butler’s injury will have a huge impact on the remainder of the season for the Timberwolves. Although Butler does not have an ACL tear, the meniscus injury will keep him out for some time. Without Jimmy Butler this season, the Timberwolves are 2-4. The Timberwolves had hopes of getting a top four seed and if Butler misses a significant amount of time, that could dramatically impact their playoff standing. While Karl-Anthony Towns has taken a huge step this season, they will need more from him if they hope to stay afloat without Butler.

The Trail Blazers are currently seeded 7th, but are only a game and a half behind the Timberwolves. They along with other teams in that range could benefit greatly from Butler’s injury. Portland came out after the All-Star break and dismantled the hottest team in the league, the Utah Jazz, by 19 points. Something feels different about the Trail Blazers this season and Damian Lillard has really played at a high level. A good win in this game will even up the season series and depending on the outcome could give Portland the edge.

Friday March 2nd

Toronto Raptors at Washington Wizards (8PM EST)

This is the final game of the season series between these two teams. The Washington Wizards have taken two of the first three games by 11 points and 3 points. The Raptors took the second game by 9 points.

The Raptors are one game ahead of the Celtics for the number one spot in the East. They have dominated the Eastern Conference, but the Wizards are the only team that they have a losing record against at the moment. Toronto has no reason to worry, but they could end up playing a Washington team in the 2nd round of the playoffs if the standings hold. The Raptors had been on a 7 game winning streak heading into the All-Star break, but lost their first game by three to the Bucks. With the Celtics right on their heels, the Raptors have to try and keep pace.

The Wizards continue to be an interesting team every night. Without John Wall, they have looked great at times, but have also desperately missed him at times. The Wizards have a string of games coming up against good teams and how they fare throughout that stretch will determine their playoff fate. With only a five and a half game lead over the 9th seeded Pistons, a bad losing streak could put the Wizards into a lower seed or out of the playoffs.

Saturday March 3rd

Detroit Pistons at Miami Heat (7:30PM EST)

This is the final game of the season series between these two teams. The Pistons have won two of the three games in the series thus far, by 9 points and 4 points. The Heat were able to win the second game of the series by 7 points.

The Pistons are currently out of the playoff picture and they have to feel a sense of desperation after making the huge trade for Blake Griffin. Making the playoffs would be huge for Detroit and the Heat are one of the teams they hope to overtake. In their last contest, despite Griffin really struggling from the field the Pistons still came out on top. They currently hold the edge against the Heat in the season series and if they can get this win, it would insure that they would get in the playoffs should they end the season with the same record as the Heat. This is a very big game.

The Heat need this game to tie the season series with the Pistons. As I write this they are only a game and a half ahead of the Pistons for the final playoff spot. They are fortunate that their remaining schedule is easier than what is in store for the Pistons. This should be an intense game.

Sunday March 4th

Phoenix Suns at Atlanta Hawks (3:30PM EST)

This is the final game of the season series between these two teams. The Suns won the first game by one point in early January.

With all of this talk about the playoffs, I have to include the other group of teams and that is the tanking teams. Both the Suns and Hawks are not good and it seems intentional. They are tied for the worst record in the league at 18-42. The loser of this game will likely have the worst record in the league increasing their chance to get the number one draft pick. However, there are more teams tanking and these games between tanking teams takes on a different style of entertainment. It will be interesting to see how games like this play out.

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