The NCAA Tournament, an increased amount of games on NBA TV and the disparity between competitive and non-competitive teams has wreaked havoc with the League Pass slate but there are still some strong ones, including Sunday’s Thunder/Raptors matinee that is the Game of the Week.
Kings at Thunder, 8 p.m.: De’Aaron Fox squaring off with Russell Westbrook is worth some attention as the Thunder work to fortify their place in the playoff picture.
Bucks at Grizzlies, 8 p.m.: It is on, I guess. Also, any chance to see Giannis against an inferior opponent brings the potential for serious fireworks.
Pacers at 76ers, 7 p.m.: A big game for teams who should be thrilled with playoff appearances but now can expect much more. Myles Turner has been an intriguing floor-spacing big man and those skills could be valuable against Joel Embiid.
Mavericks at Knicks, 7:30 p.m.: A double tank special also features Dennis Smith Jr’s first game at Madison Square Garden about nine months after the Knicks took Frank Ntilikina over him.
Pistons at Jazz, 9 p.m.: Drummond vs. Gobert is always intriguing and Blake Griffin makes this more of a frontcourt duel as he and Derrick Favors have plenty of experience against each other.
Bucks at Magic, 7 p.m.: Another potential Giannis demolition, though hopefully Aaron Gordon is back from his concussion by this point.
Heat at Kings, 10 p.m.: Hassan Whiteside faces the team that drafted him and Miami’s perimeter defenders try to slow down Bogdan Bogdanovic, who has done well during his rookie season.
Raptors at Pacers, 7 p.m.: Victor Oladipo and DeMar DeRozan may be competing for an All-NBA spot and while one game should not determine the outcome it may linger for some voters. Indiana struggled with second unit play when Darren Collison was out but will need to be strong considering Toronto’s bench.
Clippers at Rockets, 8 p.m.: No secret passageways but still an important game for the Clippers as they try to secure a playoff berth. They will presumably try a series of perimeter defenders on James Harden with Avery Bradley out and that could decide the outcome.
Pelicans at Spurs, 8:30 p.m.: This could be Kawhi Leonard’s return game but has plenty of stakes and intrigue even if that does not happen. Anthony Davis has been a destroyer since DeMarcus Cousins tore his Achilles and will have to battle a deep Spurs front line here.
Cavs at Trail Blazers, 10 p.m.: Cleveland’s defense will get a stress test from Portland’s backcourt, which is not exactly what they need as they work to improve their cohesiveness after the big trades and a series of injuries. It will also be interesting to see how the Blazers defend LeBron, as they will presumably face talented small forwards in the playoffs.
Nets at 76ers, 7 p.m.: When this game occurs, the Sixers will only have four games remaining against potential playoff teams so they will need to take care of business against everyone else to maximize their seed. D’Angelo Russell has lost a lot of this year due to injury but the end of this season will be important for potential extension negotiations this summer.
Kings at Warriors, 10:30 p.m.: Sacramento already beat the Warriors once at Oracle this season (in a game Curry and Durant both did not play in) but that probably will not happen again.
Rockets at Pelicans, 7 p.m.: For the second week in a row, the Rockets play a game arguably too good for League Pass on a typically quiet night for big NBA basketball. How each team tries to slow down the other’s superstar will be the most significant story, as Davis and Harden each present major challenges given the other’s personnel.
Pacers at Wizards, 7 p.m.: The third tough game for the Pacers on the list this week and they already picked up an impressive win over Washington without Victor Oladipo recently.
Pistons at Trail Blazers, 10 p.m.: A great calibrator for how Detroit is approaching the rest of the regular season, especially since this game is so big for the Blazers. Jusuf Nurkic will have his hands full with Andre Drummond but I am more interested in any Zach Collins vs. Drummond minutes that happen because the rookie has looked good but will need to face dominant physical centers like Drummond eventually.
Thunder at Raptors, 1 p.m. (Game of the Week): A fabulous game on paper with intriguing match-ups all over the court. Paul George and DeMar DeRozan have battled in the playoffs before while Westbrook vs. Lowry and Adams vs. Valanciunas will be fascinating as well. Since these teams only play twice per season, this is even more worthwhile than most late-season contests.
Celtics at Pelicans, 6 p.m.: Quite the home back-to-back for the Pelicans, especially if Kyrie Irving has returned from knee soreness. Brad Stevens changes around Boston’s lineups depending on match-up, so who he chooses to deploy on Anthony Davis and when will be telling.