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Final Non-National NBA Games Of The Week & NNGW Season Awards

The non-national season ends with a strong flurry of games with meaningful ramifications. While the landscape will change dramatically before Wednesday, we should see some fun and important matchups this week.

Monday

Heat @ Wizards: The combination of Miami’s loss at Atlanta, and Indiana beating OKC totally changed the dynamics of this game. Now, the Wizards need to win to avoid facing the Heat in the first round while Miami’s only shot at getting the top seed seed is a combination of wins and good fortune since the Pacers would have to lose to the magic.

Celtics @ Sixers: One of the last games featuring two teams heavily in the lottery mix. A Boston win likely pushes them “behind” the Lakers into sixth while the Sixers are one win or Bucks loss away from being locked into the second-most ping pong balls.

Bobcats @ Hawks: The Hawks have the East’s final playoff spot locked up, but would like to carry momentum from the win over the Heat into a likely series against the Pacers. At the same time, beating the Hawks plays a pivotal part in any chance Charlotte has of jumping into the six seed.

Lakers @ Jazz: The other Monday game with huge lottery implications, this time with both teams having something to lose by winning. Right now, Utah has fourth by themselves but a win would push them into some sort of tie (depending on what Boston does earlier in the day). The Lakers have the same incentives as the Celtics but with the added bonus of knowing that a loss pulls another team into their win total.

Grizzlies @ Suns (Game of the Week): Just a gigantic game for the last two contenders for the final spot in the playoffs. Memphis could even push ahead to the sixth seed if they win here and against Dallas. Look for Goran Dragic to play a major role while Mike Conley has the chance to cement his defensive reputation with a strong performance.

Wednesday

Bulls @ Bobcats: Another game with changed incentives after the Miami loss. While the three seed provides a better first round matchup for Chicago, a second round series against the Pacers would give them a significantly greater chance of making the conference finals. At the same time, Charlotte may still have an opportunity to avoid the top two seeds in the first round with a win here.

Jazz @ Timberwolves: The last game of the 2013-14 season with a meaningful effect on the top five picks.  The Wolves have been feisty throughout April and this carries the added weight of likely being Rick Adelman’s last game as their head coach as well as the chance to clinch a .500 season. 

Raptors @ Knicks: Since the Bulls game starts an hour earlier, we should have a clear view of the importance of this one by halftime. Even though they have been eliminated, the Knicks could view their final home game of the year as a chance to make a statement, especially since they have no structural incentive to lose because their draft pick will be going to Denver.

Warriors @ Nuggets: We do not know how important this one will be but ending the season with a rematch of their electric playoff series could be fun. Stephen Curry gets one last shot to try and secure a spot on the All-NBA First Team while the Nuggets can play spoiler against the team that shocked them a year ago.

Non-National Games of the Week Awards

The NNGW Awards center on non-national games- they are not my choices for the full league, though there absolutely will be some overlap.

NNGW Most Valuable Player- Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder: His remarkable stretch without Russell Westbrook combined with the heavy dose of the Heat on national TV makes Kevin Durant the runaway winner of the NNGW MVP. He made even games against lowly opponents watchable and helped elevate the entertainment level of even the heavily injured Thunder squads.

NNGW Defensive Player of the Year- Roy Hibbert, Indiana Pacers: More than just the key defensive cog on the best defensive team,  Roy Hibbert deserves NNGW  DPOY because opponents shot just 41.5 percent at the rim against him this season. That stands out as the best for any big man who played substantial minutes this season.

NNGW Rookie of the Year- Mason Plumlee, Brooklyn Nets: As much as I wanted to give this award to Giannis Antetokounmpo, the middle Plumlee had a strong season and brought it from the entertainment standpoint as well.

NNGW Coach of the Year- Jeff Hornacek, Phoenix Suns: The Suns went from a potential bottom feeder to a team fighting for a playoff berth in the stacked Western Conference while playing some of the most fun basketball in the entire league. Hornacek deserves plenty of credit for these developments and the team’s performance while missing key pieces speaks volumes of his impact.

NNGW Sixth Man of the Year- Manu Ginobili, San Antonio Spurs: While other non-starters may have played more minutes, Manu wins NNGW Sixth Man of the Year because of the excellence he showed while on the court. His quality play this year also struck me because of the depressing way he ended last season in the Finals. He also deserves credit for being a key piece on a Spurs team with the best record in the league despite so little consistency in personnel.

NNGW Most Improved Player- Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns: At 27 years old with five NBA seasons under his belt, Goran Dragic’s best NBA year was 2011-12 when he averaged 23 and five for a Rockets team that narrowly missed the playoffs in the post-lockout season. He became a star this year by being the focal point on the most surprising team. Heck, Phoenix has a top-10 offense despite carrying one of the weakest swingman units in the league and Dragic is the biggest reason why.

NNGW Most Entertaining Player- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: While there are numerous legitimate candidates for this award, Stephen Curry takes it because he enhanced his must-see status from the 2013 playoffs. In many games this season, Curry was the Warriors offense either as a scorer or distributor. He also had huge game-winners against Boston and Dallas while providing some of the most memorable scoring explosions of the year, including 47 Sunday in a loss to Portland.  Honorable mentions go to Kevin Durant, Goran Dragic, and LeBron James. 

All-NNGW Team

G- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

G- Goran Dragic, Phoenix Suns

F- Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder

F- LeBron James, Miami Heat

C- Joakim Noah, Chicago Bulls

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Apr. 7-Apr. 13)

Despite the huge stakes of the final full week of the regular season, the non-national slate looks pretty weak at the outset. That likely means we will see some surprisingly close games since most times I lament a weak schedule it turns out pretty well.

Tuesday

Spurs @ Timberwolves: If Kevin Love plays (back spasms kept him out of Saturday’s game), this could be somewhat interesting since the Wolves had a surprising double overtime win at home against Miami last week.

Wednesday

Bobcats @ Wizards: Only separated by a single game in the loss column, this could play a major role in figuring out who gets the sixth seed in the East. Even though the Pacers have had a rough go of it lately, I doubt either of these teams would rather face them than whoever gets the three.

Suns @ Pelicans: After missing a game with back spasms, Anthony Davis played on Friday so he may play against the Suns. If so, it makes for a much more interesting contest since the Suns have so much on the line.

Rockets @ Nuggets: I just have a sneaking suspicion this one could be entertaining for a while. Seems like a likely Rockets win but it could still yield some fireworks.

Friday

Knicks @ Raptors: A big game for both teams because of how close their respective races are at the moment. Carmelo will need to have a statement game on the road against a quality opponent.

Hawks @ Nets: Like the Knicks, the Hawks have a big road game against a dangerous playoff team. Even with a three game lead in the loss column as of now, Atlanta cannot afford to give the Knicks an easier path to the playoffs. At the same time Brooklyn still has enough time to improve their standing and possibly grab home court for the first round with a furious finish.

Rockets @ Timberwolves: Again, this depends on health but it could be interesting.

Sixers @ Grizzlies: Just kidding.

Suns @ Spurs: This game will definitely be important for Phoenix but the Spurs may be taking their foot off the gas pedal around here since they hold a four game lead right now (partially thanks to the Suns) and this marks their third to last game. Either way, it should be tons of fun.

Sunday

Bulls @ Knicks: Like the Friday games, this one should be fun because each team has their own major incentives and pressures. The battle for the three seed should be largely clarified at this point and the Bulls may have substantially more motivation to get it if the Pacers stay in the #2 spot as expected. Meanwhile, the Knicks have to go after every game in order to make the postseason.

Warriors @ Trail Blazers (Game of the Week): The events of the last few days have made this one substantially more interesting. Unless one of these teams loses unexpectedly before Sunday, there could be one game separating them when this contest occurs. Since the Warriors won two of the previous three meetings, the Blazers have to fight for a split and firmer control of the fifth seed in the West.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Mar. 31-Apr. 6)

A simply excellent week of non-national games with important tilts almost every night. This also could be the last week of feisty spoiler performances for a few teams that could…let’s say “reassess their priorities” as the lottery picture clears up.

Monday

Wizards @ Bobcats: While Charlotte is settling pretty firmly into the seventh seed, Washington still has plenty of variability left in their playoff picture. Al Jefferson continues to play well and will pose major challenges for Washington’s bigs.

Bucks @ Pistons: This makes the list because it stands as Milwaukee’s best chance to win another game. It will also be interesting to see how Detroit reacts to getting blown out by the Sixers, and I cannot believe I typed that phrase.

Raptors @ Heat: Right now, this looks like a fascinating second round series. The Raptors will need quality games from Ross and DeRozan if they want to pull out a huge statement road win.

Clippers @ Timberwolves: I just enjoy seeing Kevin Love face off against top competition at his position and they do not come much better than Blake Griffin. Add in a potential Rubio / CP3 pass-off and this could be a fun one.

Tuesday

Warriors @ Mavericks: As of this writing, only two games separate the six seed and missing the playoffs entirely. Tuesday’s only non-national game could shrink that dramatically as Monta Ellis faces off against his old team.

Wednesday

Rockets @ Raptors: A game I am interested in seeing even though we miss out on the brutality of Kyle Lowry and Patrick Beverley sharing the court. James Harden could play a decisive role, especially if Dwight Howard floats more than he should in a big road game.

Warriors @ Spurs: After the way San Antonio has handled the Warriors this season, some of the intrigue may have been lost here but it could still be a compelling game.

Grizzlies @ Timberwolves: Randolph/Gasol vs. Love/Pekovic is just fun.

Clippers @ Suns: A heat check for Phoenix and an absolutely scintillating point guard duel.

Lakers @ Kings: Potentially big lottery ramifications here since there are not many games left with two teams in the 4-7 cluster.

Friday

76ers @ Celtics: Someone has to win and it will probably be the Celtics.

Pacers @ Raptors: An intriguing game featuring two squads with plenty to play for. This could be a strong indicator of whether the Pacers will hold on to the top seed in the East.

Suns @ Trail Blazers (Game of the Week): I’m giving this one Game of the Week status because it could loom so large for both teams and should be an incredibly fun game on top of that. Goran Dragic and Damian Lillard can provide the star power but the interior play (including former Sun Robin Lopez) could decide it.

Saturday

Bulls @ Wizards: This could be either the 3/6 or 4/5 Eastern Conference matchup depending on how things shake out. John Wall and Bradley Beal should have a chance to be the difference makers in this one though DJ Augustin has had some big games recently.

Sunday

Lakers @ Clippers: After what happened the last time they played, this one warrants inclusion.

Hawks @ Pacers: Despite all the turmoil both teams have had recently, this still looks like a first round playoff preview. That said, both teams have plenty to fight for as each sits precariously close to a much less desirable result.

The Utter Nightmare Of Minnesota's 2011 Draft

A bad draft can happen in a variety of ways: poor selections, bad trades, or taking options off the table for no reason. All three hit David Kahn and the Wolves at the same time.

Proposing A New Playoff System

The top 16 regardless of division or conference make it into the playoffs and then the top seeds are given the choice of their opponent from the bottom-eight clubs.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Mar. 24-Mar. 30)

With a little less than a month left in the regular season, we are looking at a stretch run with intrigue all over the standings. Each conference has two teams at the top and groupings in the middle and bottom of the playoff picture while the ping pong balls hang in the balance.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Mar. 17-Mar. 23)

This week features a few games that will go a long way towards figuring out the playoff seeding as well as a few that could swing the ping pong balls. Naturally, there will be other basketball competing for your time as well.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Mar. 10-Mar. 16)

In a quality stretch with important games at the top and bottom of the standings, we have something truly unusual in NNGW this week: a team listed four times.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Mar. 3-Mar. 9)

It looks like a strange week for non-national games considering Sunday carries by far the best slate of matchups. There are a few potentially fun ones during the weeknights though.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Feb. 24-Mar. 2)

As the end of the season slowly comes into view, a series of different races have begun to take shape. Other than the top two seeds in the East, it seems like the rest of the playoff picture is wide open with chances to stratify if some teams slump while others surge.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Feb. 18-23)

The Kyle Lowry Vengeance Tour against Kyrie Irving and John Wall, along with multiple appearances from the Cavaliers and Blazers.

Non-National Games Of The Week (Feb. 10-Feb. 13)

Unsurprisingly, the coming All-Star break wreaks havoc with the Non-National Games of the Week. Fortunately, the three days feature a swath of quality matchups featuring playoff teams and intriguing talents.

375 Days

February 19, 2015 may seem like a long way away and in NBA circles it feels like an eternity at present, but it should hold significant importance for those who care about the Warriors, because the basketball world will know how serious and competent their ownership group will be for the foreseeable future.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Feb. 3-Feb. 9)

With the Super Bowl out of the way and the Winter Olympics coming at the end of the week, the NBA has a nice schedule of non-national game for Adam Silver’s first week as commissioner.

The Central Question For Fixing The NBA's Draft System

One of the biggest problems has been the flawed process that new players come into the NBA. Using a term more broad than “the lottery” proves necessary because proposals to fix the system can be much bigger than just tweaks to that part.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Jan. 27-Feb. 2)

While we are starting to get a better idea where teams fall with respect to their conferences, this week provides a few illuminating games that should challenge individual players and teams alike. Plus, a few non-national Kevin Durant games to keep things interesting.

Selecting The 2014 NBA All-Star Reserves

Looking at the ASG credentials of Anthony Davis, Goran Dragic, Kyle Lowry, Lance Stephenson, John Wall, Andre Drummond and more, along with several notes on the criteria for how reserves should be selected.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Jan. 20-Jan. 26)

Most teams are hitting the halfway mark in their seasons and we get some chances to look beyond just who will make the playoffs and get a better look at the teams that may make some actual noise. The Blazers have another huge week with two big road games in Oklahoma City and Oakland for the Game of the Week.

The Pelicans' Peculiar Predictament

With approximately three months remaining in the regular season, the Pelicans are in a tough spot from an organizational perspective. The combination of their 15-23 record, harsh batch of injuries, and the stacked Western Conference have made the playoffs an unlikely proposition and they lose their pick if it falls out of the top-5.

Non-National NBA Games Of The Week (Jan. 13-Jan. 19)

Several appearances this week in important League Pass games for the Blazers, Jazz, Mavericks, Pistons and Pelicans.

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