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NBA Today: Wizards, Celtics basically playing for the 2 seed

(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass

NBA Today complements Keith Smith’s “NBA Yesterday” feature, “The Skip Pass.” While Keith’s feature will emphasize what we “saw,” this will focus on what to look for in the night’s upcoming games. 

Featured Games

Washington Wizards (42-27) at Boston Celtics (44-26)

7:30 p.m. ET, League Pass

The biggest game of the night is between the Wizards and Celtics, who are effectively battling for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. Technically, even if the Wizards win, they’d be a half-game behind the Celtics. But effectively, they’d be in the lead because they’d be tied in the loss column while the win would lock up the tiebreaker for them. That makes this game crucial for bother teams.

As of writing, it’s unknown whether Isaiah Isaiah Thomas will be back with the Celtics. Considering how the Celtics fell apart in the final frame against the Philadelphia 76ers without the King of the Fourth, they’ll certainly be wanting him against Washington. Markieff Morris is probable for the Wizards after missing time with an illness.

Golden State Warriors (55-14) at Oklahoma City Thunder (40-29)

8 p.m. ET, TNT

Since Steve Kerr rested the Dubs’ biggest stars against the Spurs, causing them to endure a three-game losing streak, the Dubs have righted the proverbial ship by winning three straight, including the last two by a combined 54 points. The Thunder are also playing exceptionally well right now with five straight wins, including games against the San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz and Toronto Raptors.

The Dubs won the first three games of the series, with Kevin Durant lighting the world on fire. However, without him there, OKC will be looking to pounce. It also means the basketball world can focus more on the actual game and less on the Russell Westbrook vs. Durant soap opera.

The Rest of the Slate

Atlanta Hawks (37-32) at Charlotte Hornets (30-39)

7 p.m. ET, League Pass

The Hawks are in trouble after losing three straight and nine of 14.  Their lead over the Indiana Pacers is down to two games, and after that half the teams in the East are chasing them down. With Paul Millsap and Kent Bazemore hurting, Atlanta could be in danger of missing the playoffs entirely.

Philadelphia 76ers (26-43) at Orlando Magic (25-45)

7 p.m. ET, League Pass

This game gets a big fat who cares, doesn’t it? I guess if nothing else, Magic fans get to watch Dario Saric, a player they traded away on draft night, add to his Rookie of the Year campaign.

Utah Jazz (43-27) at Indiana Pacers (35-34)

7 p.m. ET, League Pass

This should be an outstanding game, as the Pacers are fighting for their playoff lives on one hand and hoping to climb up to the No. 5 seed on the other. The Jazz have been stumbling a bit, losing their last two, including an ugly loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. The Pacers are continuing their weird thing where they alternate between a win and a loss. They have alternated wins and losses every game since the All-Star break, and it means they’re “due” for a win after getting blown out in Toronto on Sunday.

Denver Nuggets (33-36) at Houston Rockets (48-22)

8 p.m. ET, League Pass

This is a rematch of Saturday night’s surprisingly low-scoring 109-105 Rockets win. Houston was on the second end of a back-to-back, which might have nerfed the scoring a smidge. This should be a full-blown shoot-fest, though, and an enormously entertaining affair as the Nuggets fight for the playoffs.

There’s also a decent chance that both James Harden and Nikola Jokic notch triple-doubles. Harden has 19 on the season, while Jokic has five. On that note, Harden is also on a 40-point triple-double streak, accomplishing the feat in his last two games.

New York Knicks (27-42) at Los Angeles Clippers (41-29)

10:30 p.m. ET, TNT

The Clippers got a little help from Cleveland resting its stars the other night. Now they’re just two games behind the Jazz for the No. 4 seed. With The Jazz having the toughest remaining schedule in the West and the Clippers having the easiest, per PlayoffStatus.com, LA can still do this…if they win games like this one against the floundering Knicks, who are so bad they’re coming off a home loss to the Brooklyn Nets.

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