Welcome back to Non-National Games of the Week. The trade deadline has changed the landscape substantially and that makes for a week of compelling games all over the map.
Suns @ Pacers- Two fast-paced teams clawing for playoff berths. An Indiana team that struggles at the PF position will have to work hard to keep Channing Frye in line while the PG's try to get everyone good looks.
Rockets @ Hornets- The post-Aaron Brooks world gets a big challenge in the form of Chris Paul and the Hornets. At the same time, New Orleans has to stop Kevin Martin and likely will employ Trevor Ariza as much as possible though Willie Green could play a role as well.
Bulls @ Wizards- John Wall. Derrick Rose. That’s all you should need.
Clippers @ Kings- Moving Carl Landry changes the big man dynamics for the Kings going into a game where they must figure out how to handle Blake Griffin. Beyond the new dunk champion, the Clippers have to work Mo Williams into the mix since the team does not have the luxury of guard depth to move things along slowly.
Warriors @ Pacers- Fourth Place finisher in the Three Point Shootout Dorell Wright faces a defensive challenge since Danny Granger should play a major role in this one. If either Roy Hibbert or David Lee can put together a good game here, they will give their squad a major leg up.
Spurs @ Grizzlies- Welcome back, Mr. Battier. Enjoy guarding Manu. Memphis is one of the few teams with the horses on the interior to cause problems for the Spurs and need to make a statement without having Rudy Gay.
Rockets @ Blazers- One of those games the Blazers need to win to establish them as a real contender to do more than just make the playoffs. Look for LaMarcus Aldridge to make an impact here.
Bulls @ Hawks [Game of the Week]- Two top-five teams in the East go at it in a game featuring very different strengths. Derrick Rose is the straw that stirs the drink for the Bulls while the Hawks work in a new PG- Rose’s former teammate Kirk Hinrich. Look for former college teammates Al Horford and Joakim Noah to ultimately decide this one.
Hornets @ Knicks- Who knows, this could be Chris Paul against his future team in his future home. Hopefully for New Orleans fans, this one just stands as an entertaining game between two playoff teams.
Thunder @ Hawks- Another challenging game for the Hawks. Losing Jeff Green for the time being without having the use of Kendrick Perkins for a few weeks makes the Thunder a more shallow team, which may pose problems for them against the Hawks frontcourt. Durant and Westbrook will need to carry the offensive load while Thabo Sefolosha has to do a strong job defending Joe Johnson.
Suns @ Bucks- Can Brandon Jennings, Andrew Bogut, and their forward flotilla get the Bucks into the playoffs? Games like this one against the Suns help give us an idea, and it should provide an interesting test case for the Suns after their personnel changes last week.
T-Wolves @ Wizards- It’s a Bizarro unstoppable force against a Bizzaro immovable object. Must see TV!
Pacers @ Rockets- Games like this one should give us a good idea about how this Rockets team fits into the playoff picture in the West. Incidentally, these two teams which are currently tied in the loss column face very different roads to the post-season, though each has their own hurdles. Each of these teams must use a new swingman rotation thanks to injuries and personnel moves, so we’ll have to see who gets the benefit of increased minutes.
Nuggets @ Clippers- Denver has looked surprisingly frisky since the Carmelo trade, while the Clippers look to find their way even though the postseason seems like a distant fantasy (in the short term, of course). Hopefully the PG situation for both teams can begin to resolve.