There are four days left in the NBA’s regular season. Here are the games to mark on your calendar this week that will have an impact on the playoffs or NBA draft lottery. The teams you want to focus on most: 76ers, Bucks, Jazz, Suns, Warriors, Knicks, Mavericks, Nuggets, Raptors, Nets and yes, the Bobcats.
Toronto at Milwaukee: The Bucks need to go 3-0 and have the 76ers go 0-3 to sneak into the playoffs. Seems highly unlikely. The Warriors will be on their hands and knees begging the Raptors to pull off the road win.
Philadelphia at New Jersey: This will be the final game the Nets play in Dirty Jersey. A Philly win eliminates the Bucks and ties the 76ers with the Knicks for the 7th seed.
Portland at San Antonio: The Spurs lead the Thunder for the top seed in the West. The Spurs probably want to avoid the defending champion Mavericks in the first round. The top seed will play Utah or Phoenix.
New Orleans at Golden State: The Warriors quest to keep their lottery pick should seriously lead them to only play 5-6 guys at home. If the Warriors win, the Jazz will rejoice (they get the pick).
Phoenix at Utah: Perhaps the biggest game of the week, regardless of conference. The Jazz lead the Suns by one game. They’re 23-8 at home. Anyone else excited for Steve Nash vs. Devin Harris?
Charlotte at Orlando: The Bobcats have to win this game. Or win on Thursday. Or else …
Philadelphia at Milwaukee: Depending on what happens Monday, this game could be hugely significant.
New Jersey at Toronto: The good news is, someone has to win this, so if the Warriors find a way to lose to the Hornets Tuesday, they could still have a shot at keeping that lottery pick.
New York at Charlotte: This game will be on TNT. Since the Knicks could never beat Jordan – he had to retire for Patrick Ewing to get to the finals – sending MJ’s franchise to history futility would be a neat little accomplishment (assuming the Bobcats lose to Orlando Wednesday).
Dallas at Atlanta: Going into this week, the Mavericks trail Denver for the 6th spot in the West. The Mavericks have to ask themselves – um, Thunder (2) or Lakers (3)?
Denver at Minnesota: I’d give Denver a chance against the Lakers in the first round. Less so against the Thunder.