Welcome then to the final week of the NBA Regular Season.
Twenty teams are in action tonight, though the focus will almost all fall on the game in Phoenix which could decide the tightest playoff race in years.
Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers
Tip: 7pm ET, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia PA
It’s two tanking teams taking on one another. Boston could probably do with another loss to keep pace with the Lakers, who hold the same record.
Philadelphia has already secured the second-highest number of ping-pong balls in the Draft Lottery.
Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors
Tip: 7pm ET, Air Canada Center, Toronto ON
The Raptors already whiffed once on a chance to clinch their division and with it homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. That was against the fighting New York Knicks. Tonight they take on the worst team in the league. Let’s call this a formality.
Miami Heat at Washington Wizards
Tip: 7:00pm ET, Verizon Center, Washington DC
This could be a first-round playoff preview, though without some of the key players. Dwyane Wade is likely still out, though that could change right up until tip-off time. If LeBron James rests, consider this the Heat conceding the top overall spot in the East.
Charlotte Bobcats at Atlanta Hawks
Tip: 7pm ET, Phillips Arena, Atlanta GA
The Hawks clinched their playoff spot with their win against Miami over the weekend. The Bobcats can continue to fight for sixth with a win tonight, though a loss would terminally damage those hopes.
Orlando Magic at Chicago Bulls
Tip: 8pm ET, United Center, Chicago IL
The Bulls suffered a major setback in their push for the third seed, though with the Pacers still struggling but back in the top seed, finishing with the fourth seed and meeting them in the second round could be a blessing in disguise. That is if they can negotiate what will be a tricky first round.
San Antonio Spurs at Houston Rockets
Tip: 8pm ET, Toyota Center, Houston TX
With the best record in the league secured, the Spurs will be resting everyone tonight. They may well have their eyes on the score in Phoenix, as the winner of that will probably face the Spurs in next week’s opening round. The Rockets need and Blazers are locked in a battle to the death for the fourth seed, a win tonight for Houston would clinch fourth.
Oklahoma City Thunder at New Orleans Pelicans
Tip: 8:00pm ET, Smoothie King Center, New Orleans LA
The Thunder, like the Spurs, are locked in to their current playoff seed. They’ll probably take this chance to rest everyone. The Pelicans are already looking to next season with Anthony Davis, Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday all out. Tyreke Evans remains questionable with an ankle problem.
Los Angeles Lakers at Utah Jazz
Tip: 9pm ET, EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City UT
The Lakers can keep pace with the Celtics with a win, keeping them in a tie for the sixth-worst record in the league. A Utah win in this game would actually pull them level with the Lakers’ win total, an unbelievable occurrence given their poor start.
Memphis Grizzlies at Phoenix Suns
Tip: 10pm ET, US Airways Center, Phoenix AZ
This is the one. The game of the night. The game of the season for both teams.
A win for Memphis would clinch a playoff berth and simultaneously eliminate Memphis. A win for Phoenix prolongs the verdict to the final night of the season. This is as close to a Major League Baseball-style one-game wild card round we’ll ever see in the NBA.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors
Golden State’s tough loss in a thrilling overtime game in Portland last night has left the door open for Dallas to steal the sixth seed from their grasp. A win, of course, would seal the deal for Golden State. Dallas will be watching this one intently.