NBA Games of the Week April 2nd through April 8th
It is the last full week of the regular season and there is a lot on the line for many teams as they fight for playoff seeding. It should be a great week to see some intense match-ups.
Monday, April 2nd
No games due to some college game going on.
Tuesday, April 3rd
Golden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder (8PM EST)
This is the final game of the season series between these two teams. After winning the first two games by 17 points and 20 points, respectively, the Thunder got a 32 point loss courtesy of the defending champs. That game happened on the road for the Thunder and this game is in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder are enduring a tough stretch at the worst possible time for them. They have gone from the 4th seed with a little breathing room to the 6th seed and being only a half game ahead of the 7th and 8th seeds. OKC is also dealing with figuring out their rotation, which is not easy when you have a former superstar player like Carmelo Anthony hurting your team at the ends of games. It is starting to rear its ugly head and the 4th quarter benching in the loss to Denver is the first step in what could turn into a difficult situation for the Thunder.
The Warriors have had some terrible injury luck, but it is hard to feel sorry for a team that has won two of the last three championships. There is something off about the Warriors and while it is easy to say that they will lock on come playoff time, it is going to be interesting to see what happens if they face adversity in the playoffs. This season, they have dealt with adversity by berating officials and acting out. In their last 10 games, they are 4-6, but Klay Thompson has returned from injury giving the Warriors back another All-Star. With the possibility of a 1st round match-up with the Thunder, this game has some significance.
Wednesday, April 4th
Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors (8PM EST)
This is the final game of the season series between these two teams. The Celtics and Raptors split the first two games, with the Celtics winning by one point and the Raptors by 20 points. The third game took place on the 31st and the Celtics, despite a ton of injuries managed to pull away with a 11 point win at home.
What the Celtics have been able to do with the injuries that they have dealt with is pretty amazing. They have won six in a row and are only two games behind the Raptors for home court throughout the Eastern Conference Playoffs. It is unclear when the Celtics might be full healthy again, but they have to be happy with the basketball that they have played up to this point without some of their best players.
The Raptors seem to have fallen into a funk and are now in danger of losing their number one seed. Heading into a week where they will play the Cavaliers, it is imperative for the Raptors that they finish the season strong. A loss to Cleveland heading into this game would be disastrous. Somehow losing the number one seed would also destroy any confidence the Raptors may have had about this year being different than the others.
Thursday, April 5th
Minnesota Timberwolves at Denver Nuggets (10:30PM EST)
This is the third game of the four game season series between these two teams. The Timberwolves won the first two games by 8 points in Denver and an overtime 3 point win in Minnesota. These two teams will meet again on April 11th and both of these games have massive playoff implications.
The Timberwolves have struggled without Jimmy Butler and find themselves fighting for their playoff lives after seeming like a potential top four lock. They are currently 5th, but are tied with the 6th seeded Thunder and maintain only a two and a half game lead over the Clippers and Nuggets, who are both out of the playoffs at the moment. Losing one or two games and missing the playoffs could be disastrous for this team. This game along with games against the Lakers and Grizzlies loom large for this Minnesota team. Getting a win in Denver would be huge.
The Nuggets have a tough stretch if they are going to make the playoffs. Their final 5 games are against teams with winning records. Two of those games are against the Timberwolves. The Nuggets are in control of their destiny. If they win out, they will make the playoffs. If they lose even one game, their chances of making the playoffs plummet. It is hard to see where the Nuggets go from here, but not making the playoffs could make the front office consider a major overhaul to the coaching staff or the roster.
Friday, April 6th
Cleveland Cavaliers at Philadelphia 76ers (7PM EST)
The Cavaliers have been on a tear and have won 8 of their last 10 games. LeBron James has been great and they seem poised to keep the number three seed in the conference. They hold a half game lead over the 76ers and a game lead over the Pacers. Of their five remaining games, they play three playoff teams from the East including the Raptors, Wizards, and 76ers. Cleveland will finish their season with two games against the Knicks. The luck seems to be there for this Cleveland team, they are catching the Raptors and Wizards in a time where both teams have struggled to win consistently and the 76ers are without Joel Embiid.
Philadelphia had a real chance to catch Cleveland, but the injury to Embiid ends that possibility. Having him miss the final regular season games could drastically effect their standing in the playoff race. It seemed like they were guaranteed a top 4 spot, but with Embiid's injury they could end up falling to the 5th seed and be on the road for the first round. Here's hoping that Embiid will be back in time for the playoffs.
Saturday, April 7th
Portland Trail Blazers at San Antonio Spurs (9PM EST)
This is the final game of the season series between these two teams. They split the first two games in Portland with the Spurs winning the first game by 2 points and losing the second by 1 point. The final game will take place in San Antonio.
The Trail Blazers are one of the better stories in the NBA this year. They separated themselves from the pack in the Western Conference and emerged as pseudo-contenders taking sole possession of the 3rd seed in the West. Damian Lillard and company have gone 21-4 over their last 25 games and are three games ahead of the Spurs for the 3rd seed with just 5 games remaining. Portland will end the season with four straight games against playoff teams and they could find themselves tied with the Spurs for this spot. Winning this game would give them the head to head advantage.
The Spurs were all but dead when they went 2-7 in February and it looked like Kawhi was not coming back. They have been able to turn it around and are now a half game ahead of Oklahoma City for the 4th seed in the West. They have won 8 of their last 10 games and still have a chance to win 50 games this season if they win their final 5 games. The Spurs seem to be peaking at the exact right moment and getting the head to head advantage over the Trail Blazers would be huge for San Antonio.
Sunday, April 8th
Indiana Pacers at Charlotte Hornets (1PM EST)
This is the third of the four game season series between these two teams. They split the first two games with the Pacers winning in Indiana by 9 points and the Hornets winning in Charlotte by 7 points. These two teams will meet again on April 10th, which will serve as the last game of the season for both teams.
The Pacers find themselves in a good spot as the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference with a four game lead over the Washington Wizards. Unless they go on a really tough losing streak, it would be safe to say that the Pacers are going to finish anywhere from 3rd to 5th in the conference. While it may be difficult for the Pacers to overtake Cleveland, they can catch up to Philadelphia thanks to the Embiid injury. Securing home court advantage in a first round match-up with the 76ers would be huge for Indiana.
The Hornets have been eliminated from playoff contention and this game serves as a chance for them to play spoiler to the Pacers. Charlotte has some huge questions to address in the off-season and it will be interesting to see if they allow their veterans to sit out their remaining games because they don't really have a lot to play for.