NBA Games of the Week March 12th Through March 18th
Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images
Monday March 12th
San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets (8PM EST)
The Spurs have a rough road ahead and their loss to the Thunder on Saturday night does little to give me confidence that they will be one of the 8 teams in the Western Conference Playoffs. They are currently the 7th seed in the West, but have just a one game advantage over the trio of the Clippers, Nuggets, and Jazz. The Spurs have just 16 games remaining and only three of those games are against teams under .500. San Antonio will already have a losing road record for the first time in a long time, but they could also be out of the playoffs.
The Rockets finally lost a game to the Raptors. It happened in Toronto and it was close. With the Warriors also losing, the Rockets are still at the number one spot and the way they are playing makes it appear that they have a great chance to hold on to the number one seed. The Rockets do have a tough schedule coming up this week, but they have to be confident with how they have fared this season.
Tuesday March 13th
Indiana Pacers at Philadelphia 76ers (7PM EST)
This is the third and final game of the season series between these two teams. Each team has won one game thus far making this the game that decides the tie breaker should these teams finish with identical records. The 76ers won the first game early in the season by 11 points, but lost the game in early February by 8 points.
The Pacers are currently in the 4th spot and have exceeded expectations big time. They do have a very tough upcoming schedule. This is the second game of a brutal four game stretch where they play the Celtics on March 11th and then this game followed by a home game against Toronto before traveling to Washington. The Pacers need to play well during this stretch if they hope to maintain their positioning.
Meanwhile, the 76ers have played well of late. They have been able to move up to the 6th seed and have been fortunate to keep that position after a tough loss in Miami. This stretch of games is a huge chance for the 76ers to make a move. Of their next 7 games, the Pacers are the only team they will play with a winning record. If they can go undefeated through this strecth or 6-1, they could move into the top four easily.
Wednesday March 14th
Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors (10:30PM EST)
This is the fourth and final game of this season series. The Warriors have won all three games thus far this season, but each game has been pretty close. Games have been decided by 4 points, 2 points, and by 7 points. Two of those games went to overtime and these teams have not played since December 22nd. I bring up this game because despite the Warriors’ dominance and the Lakers’ awfulness the last three seasons, the Lakers have beat the Warriors one time each year. Could this be the game or will the Warriors be able to sweep the season series with the Lakers?
The Lakers are the 11th place team in the Western Conference and that is likely where they will finish. They do not really have a chance to make the playoffs, but they have played teams tough recently. They have won six of their last eight games and are trying to win as much as possible to end the season.
The Warriors are coming off of a blowout loss to the Trail Blazers and lost an opportunity to take over the number one spot from the Rockets. They do not have a difficult schedule to end the season and they are dealing with various injuries at the moment. Golden State can easily afford to rest their players and their thinking has to be to just get to the postseason. As of right now, they would play the Spurs in the 1st round of the playoffs and with the Western Conference there is not going to be much of a difference between the 3rd seed and the 8th seed.
Thursday March 15th
Detroit Pistons at Denver Nuggets (9PM EST)
This is the second and final game of the season between these two teams. The Nuggets won the first game in Detroit by 19 points. These two teams find themselves at the moment in the 9th seed in their respective conferences and both need to win if they hope to be in the post-season.
The Pistons have struggled mightily since the All-Star break going 2-8. Their next six games are all on the road against Western Conference teams. Going 3-3 or 2-4 during this stretch would all but guarantee that Detroit is not going to the playoffs. They are currently five games back of Milwaukee for the 8th seed. Not making the playoffs could bring huge changes to Detroit. They need to win now.
The Nuggets are currently tied with the Clippers and Jazz for the 8th spot in the playoffs, but due to the Clippers playing less games, they are in the 8th spot. The Nuggets cannot drop anymore games against teams they should beat. They have games against the Kings and Lakers leading into this game and not getting both of those games would be disastrous. The Nuggets are in a similar situation to the Pistons in that not making the playoffs could bring big changes to the franchise. They have a nice young core in place, but the coach and front office could change if they cannot get into the playoffs.
Friday March 16th
Los Angeles Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder (8PM EST)
This is the third and final game of the season series between these two teams. The Thunder won the previous two games by 9 points and 10 points. The Thunder hold the tie-breaker advantage over the Clippers.
The Clippers are currently in the playoffs as the 8th seed, but if they can tread water in the standings they may be able to outlast some teams. They are 7-3 in their last 10 games, but in their next 9 games they will play 8 teams with winning records. They will need as many of those games as possible to keep ahead of the Nuggets and Jazz in the standings. Even if the Clippers miss the playoffs, they have found some good young players and have re-invented themselves as a scrappy team capable of playing with anybody.
The Thunder shot up to the 5th spot in the standings after beating the Spurs on Saturday. They have been up and down all season and this is the right time for them to be peaking. This game marks the first of 11 straight games against teams with a winning record and the Thunder have to find a way to maintain a winning record. Dropping a majority of those games could be disastrous if they hope to avoid Houston or Golden State in the first round of the playoffs. Getting this game against the Clippers would be huge.
Saturday March 17th
Indiana Pacers at Washington Wizards (7PM EST)
This is the third and final game of the season series between these two teams. The Pacers lost the first game by 9 points, but were able to take the 2nd game by 3 points. This game will determine the tie-breaker advantage should these teams finish the season with the same record.
As mentioned above, the Pacers have had a great season and it appears very likely they will make the playoffs. Winning this game will give them a great advantage come playoff seeding time if they are tied with the Wizards. The difference between having home court advantage and not having it would be huge for an Indiana team that has been good at home. Their home record on the year is 23-12. Hosting a 1st round playoff series could help Indiana get to the 2nd round.
The Wizards lost a big game on Saturday in Miami, but they are only a half game behind the Pacers for the fourth seed as I type this. They also have a game and a half lead over Philadelphia at the moment. Washington starts a streak of five games in a row against winning teams and given their up and down season, I would not be shocked if they lost all five games or if they won all five games. It just depends on how they are feeling that particular night. Their confidence is high, but they cannot afford to get a lower seed and have to fight it out on the road in the first round.
Sunday March 18th
Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers (10:30PM EST)
This is the third game of a four game season series between these two teams. The Clippers won the first game by one point, but lost the 2nd game by 8 points. The winner of this game will have the advantage heading into the fourth and final game on March 30th. Having the tie-breaker advantage will be huge for these teams.
The Trail Blazers continue to amaze and are in the spot where no one expected them to be at this point in the season. At the moment, they are the 3rd seed in the Western Conference with a one and a half game lead over the Pelicans. Whether they end up in the 3rd seed or not, Portland has exceeded expectations this season and is a great story. They begin a three game homestand against three different Eastern Conference opponents before this game. Playing Miami, Cleveland, and Detroit will be tough matchups for Portland. They have been good at home this season with a record of 22-11. Taking two of those three games would be huge.
The Clippers as mentioned above, have a tough schedule ahead. They are a tough team and this should be a great game. Getting the tie-breaker advantage over Portland would be big considering that at the moment the two teams are separated by only four games. Anything can happen in the Western Conference.