NBA Games of the Week March 19th through March 25th
May 6, 2017 - Source: Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images North America
Monday March 19th
Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs (9:30PM EST)
The Spurs are catching Golden State at the perfect time. The Warriors are dealing with all sorts of injuries. Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant are all going to miss this game. Golden State has the two seed in the West all wrapped up and something tells me that they are okay to be the two seed if it means they are healthy for their playoff run.
The injuries for Golden State is a blessing for a Spurs team that needs to get wins to maintain a spot in the playoffs. As it stands, the Spurs are tied for the 5th seed with four teams, which puts them at the 7th spot. San Antonio continues to deal with their own injury issues as the return of Kawhi Leonard seems to be postponed for now. Losing this game to a depleted Warriors team would be a huge loss for the Spurs.
Tuesday March 20th
Houston Rockets at Portland Trail Blazers (10:30PM EST)
The Rockets are firing on all cylinders at the moment and it is a pretty safe bet that they are going to be the number one seed with home court throughout the playoffs. They lost a game to the Raptors last week, but have immediately started another win streak, which is currently at five games. Their lead over the Warriors in the playoff race is now at three games.
The Trail Blazers continue to play inspired basketball and their winning streak is now up to 13 games. This game is shaping up to be a huge game in the Western Conference. With a win over Houston, could you really say that the Trail Blazers are not in some way fringe contenders. They have demonstrated their ability to play good defense and with Lillard's great play as of late it is difficult to say that they are not a good offensive team.
Wednesday March 21st
Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers (7PM EST)
This is the second game of the three game season series between these two teams. Toronto won the first game in Toronto by 34 points.
The Raptors' 11 game winning streak was snapped on Sunday by the Oklahoma City Thunder and it is just the 6th home game they have lost this year. It is not really a cause for concern for the Raptors. They have the number one seed in the East pretty much locked up and they will have home court throughout the East playoffs. Despite that good feeling, this game feels huge for the Raptors. They have had their share of troubles with the Cavaliers the past few seasons and if they are not able to win this game, it could damage their confidence heading into the playoffs.
The Cavaliers got a much needed win against the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, but that does not cure their troubles. While there was a little room for celebration after all of the trades that they made, those moves have not done much to move the needle for them defensively. The Cavaliers are dealing with a mountain of injuries and they have to feel good that they are going through some of these difficulties without their full roster. Despite their struggles, the Cavaliers are currently in the 3rd seed in the East and it seems now that they are the favorites to hold onto that spot. Another blowout loss to the Raptors might be cause for concern.
Thursday March 22nd
Los Angeles Lakers at New Orleans Pelicans (8PM EST)
The Lakers have competed all season and they are the 11th team in the Western Conference with a respectable 31-38 record. They have had some young guys take some mini-leaps this season and Luke Walton has done a good job. They will continue to fight for wins as the season ends and they can play spoiler for teams like the Pelicans.
The Pelicans have a two game lead over the 9th seeded Clippers after a huge Sunday win over the Celtics. They are going to need to get games like this one over the Lakers if they want to hang onto that final playoff spot. There is also a chance for the Pelicans to move up if they can put together a winning streak. However, this game might be made more difficult because it is the third game in three nights for the Pelicans, but all three games are at home. If they can get all three of those games it would give them the chance to move up in the standings.
Friday March 23rd
Miami Heat at Oklahoma City Thunder (8PM EST)
This is the first game of the two game season series between these two teams.
The Heat are still in the 8th spot in the East and they are really fighting it out with Milwaukee for that final playoff spot. I'm sure the Heat would love to get into the 7th seed, but it might come down to the last game of the season. They are traveling to face a Thunder team that they are going to see one more time before the season is over.
The Thunder have been playing good basketball and it couldn't have come at a better time. Winning a huge game in Toronto puts them in the 4th seed with a two game cushion over the teams behind them. They are also only a game and a half behind the Trail Blazers for the 3rd seed. Something tells me that the Thunder would rather have the chance to play the Warriors in the 2nd round of the playoffs than the Rockets, but having home court in the 1st round would be a good consolation prize. The Thunder have a tough schedule remaining and things could go south for them if they can't continue their great play.
Saturday March 24th
Minnesota Timberwolves at Philadelphia 76ers (6PM EST)
This is the second game of the two game season series between these two teams. Philadelphia won the first game by 6 points in overtime.
Minnesota finds themselves in the 8th seed after a loss to the Rockets and that is life in the Western Conference. They have to find ways to get wins to stay in good playoff positioning. The loss of Jimmy Butler has hurt them and that is coupled with Andrew Wiggins' recent complaints about his role on the team. All of this together is a tough thing for the Timberwolves to deal with and if they cannot get it sorted out they might have to face the Rockets in the 1st round or miss the playoffs entirely.
The 76ers have a nice path to get to a higher seed in the East. They have to win their next three games against losing teams heading into this contest with a Timberwolves team that is struggling to get wins without Jimmy Butler. Philadelphia is only a game out of the 4th spot in the East and with Indiana and Washington having more difficult schedules to end the season this could be Philly's chance to make a move and get home court in the 1st round of the playoffs.
Sunday March 25th
Portland Trail Blazers at Oklahoma City Thunder (7PM EST)
Having already written about both of these teams in previous games, this game is shaping up to be a big one that could determine the three seed in the playoff race for the moment. The Trail Blazers have had OKC's number all season, but that does not mean this will be an easy victory for Portland. These two teams have separated themselves somewhat, but that doesn't mean that their leads in their respective places is safe. Only two games separate these two teams.