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. The Warriors have three key games in terms of the Western Conference playoff battle and one match-up of the starting PG’s in the All-Star Game.
Raptors @ Nets: After all the consternation and disappointment, the Atlantic division has two teams above .500. Toronto has a major edge on the division crown but a Brooklyn win here would make that a more reasonable proposition. I am most intrigued by how Amir Johnson handles the unusual power forwards the Nets have been rolling out in 2014.
Wizards @ Heat: A potentially dangerous game for Miami since it comes the day after facing the Bulls in Chicago. Washington has played well since the All-Star break, but will need their best to take out a Heat team that has only lost four times at home.
Magic @ Bucks: With about 20 games left, Milwaukee still has a three game “lead” on the worst record in the league. That said, winning three games might put them in a tie with Philadelphia since the Sixers may not win another game over the rest of the season. Orlando winning a few games has put them in a perilous spot because a series of teams are sitting in the lower twenties in terms of wins right now.
Spurs @ Bulls: Potentially a not super fun game to watch considering the fact that the Bulls will want to make this one a slog but it could end up being important. Chicago needs to keep playing well to get the third seed and potentially avoid Miami while the Spurs have plenty of challengers out West.
Trail Blazers @ Grizzlies: A statement for both teams since the Blazers need to firm up their place in the top four seeds while Memphis has to fight for a chair when the music stops. Mike Conley continues to fly under the radar but could have a nice showcase here against Damian Lillard.
Mavericks @ Warriors: These teams have had many fun games against each other including a barnburner at Oracle earlier this season that ended with a Stephen Curry game-winner. Dirk Nowitzki provides a matchup problem for the Warriors and will need to play well unless Monta Ellis has a huge game at the arena he used to call home.
Bobcats @ Wizards: Want to hear something crazy? This could be the 3/6 playoff matchup, though I do not expect that to happen. Despite some high profile failings, Charlotte has a quality defense and could wreak havoc on a flawed Washington offense. One of the Washington perimeter players will need to take control of the game in order for them to win.
Warriors @ Clippers [Game of the Week]: Beyond being a potential playoff preview and a duel between players who can stake claim as the No. 1 and No. 2 Point Guards in the world (not that Steph is necessarily No. 2 over the stacked PG crop), this game also represents a rematch of two of the most entertaining games of the entire season on Christmas and Halloween. Andrew Bogut could have a huge factor on the outcome if they sic him on Blake Griffin for extended stretches.
Grizzlies @ Raptors: It is pretty remarkable that as of this writing these two teams are actually tied in the loss column. Kyle Lowry and Mike Conley are among the best two-way point guards in the entire league but the Toronto bigs will have a bigger challenge against the Memphis front line.
Cavs @ Warriors: Whether or not it stays close, Kyrie Irving and Stephen Curry sharing the court makes for compelling television.
Nets @ Wizards: The importance of this game varies pretty significantly on how the preceding part of the week goes for both teams. Brooklyn still has a fighting chance at a top four seed but will need to play incredibly well while Washington has a much clearer opportunity.
Pacers @ Pistons: Makes the list because I am fascinated by Andre Drummond and Roy Hibbert playing against each other.
Mavericks @ Thunder: Could be the 1/8 or 2/7 series a month from now and that would be quite fun because of the talent involved. Plus, this is a Slim Reaper game so it can get included for any reason.
Warriors @ Trail Blazers: Another huge game for both sides that marks a rematch of one of the more interesting games of the 2013-14 season. For those who do not know, there is some bad blood between these teams and they already had an on-court conflict this year.