With less than a month remaining in the regular season, the NBA schedule is incredibly interesting at various places in the standings.
This week features quality matchups of the league’s best teams, including Wizards/Celtics and Jazz/Clippers in the Game of the Week, along with a few important games closer to the fringes of the playoff picture.
Jazz at Pacers, 7 p.m.: One certain playoff team and another likely one square off in a game that features point guards traded for each other. While George Hill and Jeff Teague will be fun to watch, keep an eye on whether Myles Turner can push Rudy Gobert out of his comfort zone.
Wizards at Celtics, 7:30 p.m.: These newly fierce rivals look like potential second round foes. If Isaiah Thomas can play after missing the last two games with a bone bruise, this will be a true highlight of the week.
Nuggets at Rockets, 8 p.m.: Denver lost their place as the favorites for the final playoff spot after a tough weekend that included a home loss to the Rockets. Returning the favor could put them back in the driver’s seat.
Grizzlies at Pelicans, 8 p.m.: The Davis/Cousins experiment continues against a team that made it work for years with a dominant big man duo. Even so, Mike Conley and Jrue Holiday could determine the outcome.
Warriors at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m.: Without Kevin Durant, this matchup looks substantially more even and there are plenty of players going against their former team, including Harrison Barnes, Zaza Pachulia and Seth Curry. We should see some Curry vs. Curry minutes as well, which will be fun as it was earlier in the season.
Bucks at Trail Blazers, 10 p.m.: Both teams are still fighting for playoff berths and could benefit greatly from winning this one. Portland’s big 4-1 road trip dramatically helped their chances but they need to carry that momentum home to beat Giannis and company.
Pacers at Celtics, 7:30 p.m.: A potential first round series worth keeping an eye on, especially to see if the Celtics’ wing defenders can slow down Paul George.
Pistons at Bulls, 8 p.m.: The Bulls still have a shot at the postseason even after losing Dwyane Wade for the season and a win over the Pistons would make a big difference in that pursuit. Reggie Jackson will have a chance to shine against Chicago’s motley crew of point guards.
Cavs at Nuggets, 9 p.m.: Cleveland’s defense has been a source of interest and concern and will face a major test in Denver against the Nuggets while they provide a similar stress test for Denver. Expect fireworks.
Clippers at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m.: The Clippers’ recent struggles have made their place in the 4/5 series less certain and they need to win games like this to stay in that mix. At the same time, Dallas’ last stand as a potential playoff team requires consistently strong performances and this is no exception.
Grizzlies at Spurs, 8:30 p.m.: Memphis picked up a big home win over the Spurs on Saturday and still have a lot of control over their own destiny but San Antonio needs to keep winning in order to secure home-court. As always, the Gasol brothers loom large and it is consistently fun to watch them battle.
Knicks at Trail Blazers, 10 p.m.: A nice test of whether the Blazers can effectively guard a scoring small forward in something awfully close to a must win for the home team.
Nuggets at Pacers, 7 p.m.: This should help clarify where both teams fit in their respective conference’s hierarchy while also being a fun game in its own right. Wilson Chandler will likely draw the assignment of guarding Paul George and will need to excel for the Nuggets to have a good chance at a massive road win.
Pelicans at Rockets, 8 p.m.: The Pelicans already shocked the Rockets once after the trade deadline when Solomon Hill scored a career-high 30 points. Repeating that accomplishment in Houston is a more challenging task but makes this game substantially more interesting.
Kings at Warriors, 10:30 p.m.: For whatever reason, the Kings and Warriors consistently play intense, compelling games and that may hold even as Sacramento takes their foot off the gas pedal. Even so, rookie big men Skal Labissiere and Georgios Papagiannis will be intriguing.
Jazz at Clippers, 3:30 p.m. (Game of the Week): Another marquee game about two weeks after the Jazz won their last matchup in Salt Lake City. As would be the case in a playoff series, these two teams are fascinating against each other and hopefully both will have something close to their full collection of players available.
Raptors at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m.: Serge Ibaka guarding Dirk Nowitzki again in a nice test for Toronto’s pick and roll defense against a shooting big man, which will be relevant in the East playoffs.
Timberwolves at Trail Blazers, 10 p.m.: Minnesota has shown their promise over the last few months and while losing Nemanja Bjelica will hurt, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins should be enough to keep this interesting, especially with Ricky Rubio trying his best to stymie Damian Lillard.
Heat at Celtics, 6 p.m.: A possible first round series and compelling matchup between one of the league’s best offenses and one of the league’s best defenses. Both teams could try to hide their lead guard defensively.
Grizzlies at Warriors, 8 p.m.: Memphis’ last game in Oakland was a phenomenal comeback and overtime win that inspired some Golden State introspection. This time, they face a different opponent but that could provide additional motivation for the home team.
Pelicans at Nuggets, 8 p.m.: An entertaining one to end the week and it will be exciting to see how Alvin Gentry chooses to handle his defensive assignments considering Nikola Jokic’s huge role in Denver’s offense.