The abbreviated final week of games before the All-Star break has a little extra intrigue this year since it will also be a time to see some faces in new places following last week's trade deadline. That dynamic is not particularly present in the Game of the Week (Rockets/Wolves) but it should be a fun one.
Pelicans at Pistons, 7 p.m.: Both of these teams acquired new power forwards at the deadline in hopes of playing in the postseason. Blake Griffin and Nikola Mirotic are still adjusting to their new surroundings but Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond going at it will be even more significant.
Clippers at Nets, 7:30 p.m.: The Clippers traded Griffin shortly before the deadline and have been intriguing since, featuring a starting five without a traditional point guard but with plenty of scoring and floor spacing. Brooklyn plays competitive games incredibly often, especially at home.
Spurs at Jazz, 9 p.m.: Utah is the league’s hottest team and they already beat the Spurs in this nine-game winning streak but this one will be on the tail end of a back-to-back. Both teams may be without their starting point guards but that gives Donovan Mitchell more opportunities with the ball in his hands.
Heat at Raptors, 7 p.m.: A nice calibration game for both teams, as the Raptors are serious contenders for the top seed in the East but Miami’s defense will challenge their invigorated offensive flow, especially at the guard spots. Both teams also rely on talented young centers who could play a role in deciding the outcome despite not starting.
Rockets at Timberwolves, 8 p.m. (Game of the Week): Two loaded teams that should create matchup problems for one another. Jimmy Butler will presumably take on the challenge of guarding James Harden, meaning the teams need to cross-match because Harden absolutely will not guard him. Plus, Houston presumably needs to defend Karl-Anthony Towns with traditional centers, which will be worth watching.
Kings at Mavericks, 8:30 p.m.: De’Aaron Fox and Dennis Smith Jr have both looked better as their teams have given them more free reign and there should be plenty of opportunities here.
Heat at 76ers, 7 p.m.: Another tough road game for Miami but they will need to keep battling to retain a place in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. Joel Embiid seems to relish games against more traditional centers so a matchup with Hassan Whiteside should be fun.
Lakers at Pelicans, 8 p.m.: It will be weird seeing Isaiah Thomas in purple and gold for a little while longer but he needs to play well in New Orleans if the Lakers want to continue their recent hot streak.
Raptors at Bulls, 8 p.m.: Kris Dunn should be able to play here, hopefully making this an opportunity to see the Dunn/LaVine backcourt at the closest to full strength it has been all season. They will face a major challenge with Lowry and DeRozan.
Nuggets at Bucks, 8 p.m.: The final League Pass game before the All-Star break should be better than its national TV alternative, as the Nuggets and Bucks have plenty of firepower. It will be fun to see how Milwaukee tries to slow down the Murray/Jokic pick-and-roll but Giannis could be an undeniable force against Denver’s front line.