The end is near, as every NBA team plays two games this week to finish out the regular season, except for the Lakers and Hornets, who each have one game left on Wednesday, when all 30 teams are in action. The Lakers beat the Spurs on Sunday night and now need to only win at home vs. the Rockets on Wednesday to make the playoffs. A Jazz loss (@Minnesota & @Memphis) would also kick the Lakers into the playoffs and they would likely face the Thunder in the first round.
It was a crazy weekend in the sports world, as Kobe Bryant’s blown Achilles and Tiger Woods’ rule violation and subsequent two-stroke penalty dominated Twitter. And my Braves are now 11-1 despite the fact Jason Heyward and B.J. Upton haven’t even shown up yet, while Brian McCann and Freddie Freeman are chilling on the DL. Let’s go team-by-team as we enter the final three days of the NBA’s regular season.
Despite what you read below, the most important thing for you to focus on if this week’s games matter, is finding out if your guys are playing, so stay tuned to the NBA news page throughout each day the rest of the way.
Atlanta – Josh Smith, Al Horford and Jeff Teague are your must-starts as long as they’re playing, while rookies Mike Scott and John Jenkins are also worth a look now that they’re getting heavy minutes. The Hawks are likely to face the Nets in Round 1, but could end up falling to the No. 6 seed, trading places with the Bulls.
Boston – Jason Terry is iffy for the week, while it’s possible Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett could be limited. Jeff Green, Jordan Crawford , Courtney Lee and Brandon Bass are all worth a look this week, and the Celtics are locked into a matchup against the Knicks in Round 1.
Brooklyn – Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez and Reggie Evans are candidates to sit this week after the Nets clinched the No. 4 seed, while Andray Blatche, MarShon Brooks, C.J. Watson, Kris Humphries and Keith Bogans could all post decent stats depending on who is in and who is out this week. The Nets are set for a meeting with the Hawks or Bulls in Round 1.
Charlotte – Josh McRoberts nearly triple-doubled on Saturday and looks like a strong play, Bismack Biyombo and Kemba Walker are hot, and Gerald Henderson and Ben Gordon are also capable of a two-game explosion to finish things out, although I don’t trust Gordon at all.
Chicago – Luol Deng is leading the league in minutes per game, making him a little iffy this week, while Carlos Boozer is also a candidate for rest. Nate Robinson should be in lineups, Kirk Hinrich can be used if you’re desperate, and I fully expect Jimmy Butler to bounce back after scoring just 13 on Sunday and struggling on Friday. I don’t expect to see Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson or Derrick Rose until the playoffs, when they’ll likely face the limping Pacers. And it’s also possible that Nazr Mohammed will finish on a high note after going for 16 & 13 on Friday. Atlanta and Chicago could still switch seeds.
Cleveland – Kyrie Irving was quiet with foul trouble on Sunday and played just 18 minutes. Keep an eye on his status for the final two games. Tristan Thompson is hot, Dion Waiters is playing and Tyler Zeller, Wayne Ellington, Alonzo Gee, Marreese Speights and Kevin Jones are all hit or miss right now. Good luck.
Dallas – Dirk Nowitzki had 19 points Sunday to become the 17th player in NBA history to score 25,000 points. With Dirk hitting the milestone and the Mavericks with nothing left to play for, we’ll have to see how much Dirk plays in the last two. Shawn Marion and Vince Carter are hot, while Brandan Wright, O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman, Mike James and Darren Collison have all been hit or miss. Don’t mess with Elton Brand.
Denver – The Nuggets are currently slated to be the No. 3 seed and face the Rockets in the playoffs. Kenneth Faried exited early Sunday with a left ankle injury and left the arena in a wheelchair. I don’t think we’ll see him until the playoffs, meaning Anthony Randolph could be useful this week after going off for 18 points, six boards, two steals and a block on Sunday. Andre Iguodala had one of his best games of the season, Ty Lawson returned to the starting lineup with a double-double, while Evan Fournier started at SG and had 24 points, three steals and three 3-pointers on Sunday, making him a sneaky add.
Detroit – Brandon Knight, Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, Jonas Jerebko and Will Bynum all played well on Friday, while Rodney Stuckey struggled with four points on 1-of-7 shooting. Most of these guys are a roll of the dice this week, but I feel good about Knight and Drummond, as Jose Calderon will sit out again on Monday with a triceps injury.
Golden State – Stephen Curry had 47 points on Friday, Klay Thompson had 25 and David Lee added 18 points and eight boards in a tough loss to the Lakers. With Andrew Bogut likely done until the playoffs, Carl Landry is worth a look right now. The Warriors are tied with the Rockets currently, so it remains to be seen if they’re the No. 6 or 7 seed, which could mean the studs keep playing.
Houston – All five Rockets starters hit double digits on Sunday, along with Carlos Delfino, who scored 14 with four 3-pointers off the bench. Chandler Parsons made his return with 13 points and a nice line, and could be a decent play this week, if the Rockets keep playing their guys. They’re still in a tight battle with the Warriors for seeding, which should mean the starters keep playing.
Indiana – The Pacers fell to the Knicks on Sunday and are now locked into the No. 3 seed and will face the Bulls in Round 1. The fact that they have nothing left to play for could mean some rest for the starters, so watch for news on that front. It sounds like Paul George might miss the last two, while George Hill has already been ruled out. Gerald Green and D.J. Augustin would be the guys to think about grabbing here, while owners of David West, Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson will also want to keep a close eye on the news.
L.A. Clippers – DeAndre Jordan had 16 points, 12 boards and three blocks on Saturday, making his owners wonder where that has been all year. The Clips are still battling the Grizz for the No. 4 seed, which should mean Chris Paul and Blake Griffin keep playing. Chauncey Billups could play this week but I wouldn’t touch him, while Caron Butler now has a sore knee that could keep him out. Matt Barnes benefits.