NBA Game Previews for March 21, 2018
March 21, 2018 at 7:00 PM ET
76ers Looking to Strengthen Playoff Position, Host Grizzlies
By Juan Pablo Aravena
The Philadelphia 76ers will host the Memphis Grizzlies at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday.
The 76ers (39-30) are seeking their fourth win in a row after another impressive outing, since they defeated the Charlotte Hornets by a 108-94 score. Philadelphia once again were aided by the strong play of their two stars, Joel Embiid (25 points and 19 rebounds) and Ben Simmons (11 points, 12 rebounds and 15 assists), as they keep climbing on the Eastern Conference standings. In fact, Philadelphia currently sits in sixth place but are just 1.5 games back of the third-placed Cleveland Cavaliers. A good winning run down the stretch could clinch them home-court advantage, but there is no question they are trending in the right direction in recent weeks. They have a 4-2 mark in their past six games, and are 7-3 in their last 10 games. That bodes well for their end of the season.
The Grizzlies (19-51) have been playing better of late, but that won't change the fact that they will end the season near the bottom of the Western Conference standings. They are coming off a disappointing 118-115 road loss against the Brooklyn Nets in a game that started a three-game road trip for them. In fact, four of their next five contests will be away from home, where they possess a 5-28 mark -- the joint-worst in the NBA next to the Atlanta Hawks -- and worst one in the West by quite a mile. With a 1-5 mark in their past six games and a 1-9 record in their last 10 contests, all signs indicate that Memphis will play for nothing but their pride and a potential high position in the upcoming NBA Draft Lottery. At this point, it is clear that they are already playing looking towards the upcoming season.
Posted on March 20, 2018 at 8:22 PM ET
Updated on March 21, 2018 at 12:55 AM ET
March 21, 2018 at 7:00 PM ET
Raptors, Cavaliers Set to Meet in Thrilling Encounter
By Juan Pablo Aravena
The Cleveland Cavaliers will host the Toronto Raptors at Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday.
The Cavaliers (41-29) have dealt with inconsistencies all season long, but they have gotten some good play over the past few weeks and the numbers back that up since they have won three of their last four. Cleveland is coming off a big 124-117 win over the Milwaukee Bucks this past Monday, and they will have another chance to take another step towards clinching the third seed in the Conference when they host one of the top teams in the league this year such as Toronto. Fortunately for them, the Cavs have a 23-11 mark at home and this contest against their Canadian foes falls right in the middle of a three-game homestand. With the return of Kevin Love and the potential presence of names such as Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr., will Cleveland manage to pull the W against a Toronto team that has looked unstoppable down the stretch?
The Raptors (53-18) will head into the second half of a back-to-back after winning the first game against the Orlando Magic 93-86 despite the absence of DeMar DeRozan, who was given the night off. That said, Toronto's leading scorer is expected to be available for this contest against one of their biggest rivals in the Eastern Conference. This game against the Cavaliers marks the second game of a short two-game road trip for the Canadian franchise, but they have been pretty successful on the road of late since they have won their past four contests away from Air Canada Centre. In fact, they have gone 5-1 in their past six contests and hold a comfortable five-game lead at the top of the Conference over the Boston Celtics. A win here would do nothing but confirm the Raptors as the biggest threat to take home the East crown after Cleveland's supremacy in recent years.
Posted on March 20, 2018 at 11:56 PM ET
Updated on March 21, 2018 at 12:51 AM ET
March 21, 2018 at 7:30 PM ET
Hornets Take on Nets in Big Apple Battle
By Juan Carlos Blanco
The Charlotte Hornets take on the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center on Wednesday evening.
The Hornets (30-41) still have postseason aspirations, but, realistically, they're hanging on by the thinnest of threads at this point. Charlotte has dug a further hole for itself by dropping three of its past four games, with their most recent loss, a 108-94 defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers, leaving them 8.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. Kemba Walker led the way in the losing cause with 24 points and added eight rebounds, six assists, three steals and one block. Willy Hernangomez once again saw some modest playing time and totaled 17 points, three rebounds, two steals and one block. Jeremy Lamb provided 14 points, eight boards, three assists, one steal and one block across 30 minutes while drawing the start for Nicolas Batum (Achilles). Rookie Malik Monk finished with 13 points, four rebounds and three assists in 16 minutes off the bench. Dwight Howard mustered 10 points, four rebounds, one assist and one steal.
The Hornets will list both Batum and Cody Zeller (knee) as game-time decisions for Wednesday's contest.
The Nets (23-48) gave up any playoff hopes long ago, but one wouldn't know it from watching the intensity of their play. Brooklyn has continued to battle in nearly every contest, often giving quality opponents all they can handle. Their aggressive, fast-paced style has even resulted in two consecutive wins against teams of a similar caliber in the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies, the latter which they defeated by a 118-115 score on Monday evening. Allen Crabbe and Caris LeVert co-led the Nets with 22 points, with each also supplying three rebounds, two assists and one block. DeMarre Carroll poured in 18 points and added six boards, three assists, one steal and one block. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson delivered a 16-point, 12-rebound double-double that also included three assists, one steal and one block. D'Angelo Russell managed 14 points, seven assists, five boards, two steals and two blocks. Spencer Dinwiddie, now back on the second unit, was productive with nine points, six assists and two rebounds.
The Nets will list Dante Cunningham (concussion) as questionable for Wednesday's game.
Wednesday's contest marks the third and final meeting between the teams this season. The Hornets notched a 111-96 home win in the first game before the Nets came back with a 125-111 victory at Spectrum Center in the second contest.
Posted on March 20, 2018 at 9:51 PM ET
Updated on March 21, 2018 at 12:58 AM ET
March 21, 2018 at 7:30 PM ET
Knicks Head to South Florida to Battle Heat
By Juan Carlos Blanco
The New York Knicks take on the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on Wednesday evening.
The Knicks (26-45) have nothing except the possibility of derailing other team's playoff aspirations serving as motivation at this point in the season, and they likely would take particular pleasure in making an old rival's postseason path a little thornier. Such will be the scenario they'll walk into Wednesday, when New York will also be looking to notch their third straight win. They most recently upended the Chicago Bulls, 110-92, on Monday night. Tim Hardaway, Jr. led the way with 22 points, a total he supplemented with two rebounds, one assist and two steals. Michael Beasley followed with 17 points, six rebounds, two assists and one steal. Troy Williams tallied 11 points, seven rebounds, one assist and two blocks. Enes Kanter generated a 10-point, 13-rebound double-double that also included one assist. Isaiah Hicks and Luke Kornet produced matching nine-point tallies off the bench, with the former also hauling down eight rebounds and the latter posting three boards, one assist and one block.
The Knicks will list Emmanuel Mudiay (ankle) as probable for Wednesday's game, while Lance Thomas will likely carry a questionable designation after missing Monday's game for personal reasons.
The Heat (38-33) appear to have a postseason spot locked up at this stage, but the question of exactly where they'll slot remains very much up in the air. Miami remains just a half-game ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks for the Eastern Conference's seventh seed, and any slip down to No. 8 would leave them with the daunting prospect of having to tangle with the Toronto Raptors in the opening round -- a scenario they'd likely prefer to avoid. As such, they have a vested interest in continuing to pile up wins, and that urgency was certainly evident in their most recent victory. The Heat outlasted the Denver Nuggets in a double-overtime classic on Monday night, 149-141. James Johnson led the way with 31 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, one steal and one block. Kelly Olynyk was right behind him with 30 points and also contributed eight boards, six assists, one steal and four blocks. Wayne Ellington finished with 23 points, three rebounds and two assists. Goran Dragic mustered 20 points, eight assists, five rebounds and one steal. Josh Richardson accounted for 17 points, five rebounds, five assists, four blocks and one steal. Justise Winslow collected 11 points, three assists, two rebounds, one steal and one block. Tyler Johnson managed eight points, four rebounds and three assists while drawing another start.
The Heat will once again be without the services of Dwayne Wade (hamstring) and Hassan Whiteside (hip) in Wednesday's game.
Wednesday's contest marks the third of four meetings between the teams this season. The Knicks logged a 115-86 home win in the first game before the Heat turned the tables with a 107-103 victory on their home floor in the second tilt.
Posted on March 20, 2018 at 10:27 PM ET
Updated on March 21, 2018 at 1:00 AM ET
March 21, 2018 at 8:00 PM ET
Pelicans Look to Keep Rolling
By Dan Bruno
The New Orleans Pelicans play host to the Indiana Pacers, at Smoothie King Center on Wednesday evening.
This marks the second game of a back-to-back for the Pelicans (41-30), who are coming off a home win over the Mavericks on Tuesday. This marks the fourth game of a five-game home stand for the Pelicans, where they have gone 2-1 so far. They are 19-15 at home this season. Anthony Davis put on a monster performance in Tuesday's win, as he tallied 37 points, eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks. Davis is averaging 28.0 points, 11.2 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game this season. Rajon Rondo also had a great game on Tuesday, with 19 points, 14 assists, nine rebounds and three steals. Rondo has been playing well lately, averaging 9.2 points, 9.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game over his last 10 games. Nikola Mirotic has been a solid addition to New Orleans, as he is averaging 12.9 points and 7.3 rebounds per game over his last 10 games. The Pelicans have one of the better offenses in the league, as they average 111.7 points per game, which is fourth best in the league.
Meanwhile, the Pacers (41-30) have won seven of their last 10 games, and are coming off a solid home win over the Lakers in their last contest. The Pacers have won two of their last three road games, and are 17-17 on the road this season. Victor Oladipo continues to lead Indiana, as he averages 23.3 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game over his last 10 games. Myles Turner gives the Pacers a great inside presence, as he averages 13.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game this season. Domantas Sabonis (ankle) will remain sidelined through Wednesday's contest. The Pacers do a good job taking care of the ball, as they average 12.9 turnovers per game, which is fifth lowest in the league.
Posted on March 20, 2018 at 11:10 PM ET
Updated on March 21, 2018 at 1:03 AM ET
March 21, 2018 at 8:00 PM ET
Banged-Up Bulls Host Nuggets
By Nick Brazzoni
The Denver Nuggets will head to Chicago on Wednesday to take on the Bulls at United Center.
It's been a rough stretch for the Nuggets (38-33), who are in the middle of the playoff chase in the Western Conference. After a crushing double-overtime loss to the Heat on Monday, Denver has now lost three of their last four games. As a result, the team is on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, sitting two games behind the Jazz. The absence of shooting guard Gary Harris isn't going to make things easier on the Nuggets, either, as he is out until at least Monday after already missing the last two contests with a knee injury. This will be stop number three on Denver's current seven-game road trip.
Fortunately for the Nuggets, in a game where they desperately need a victory, they'll be going up against not only one of the NBA's worst teams in the Bulls (24-46), but one of the NBA's most injured teams. The Bulls will definitely be without starting point guard Kris Dunn (toe), and they'll also likely be without his partner in the backcourt Zach LaVine (knee) and rookie Lauri Markkanen (back), who are both listed as doubtful for Monday's game. Without those three, who happen to be the team's top three scorers, the Bulls will be missing over 45 points of per-game production, which isn't ideal when going up against the fast-paced, high-scoring Denver offensive attack. Chicago enters Wednesday's game riding a two-game losing streak and having lost three of its last four.
Posted on March 21, 2018 at 1:18 AM ET
Updated on March 21, 2018 at 1:36 AM ET
March 21, 2018 at 8:00 PM ET
Bucks Play Host to Clippers
By Joel Bartilotta
The Milwaukee Bucks play host to the Los Angeles Clippers at BMO Harris Bradley Center on Wednesday.
The Clippers (37-33) come into this matchup losing four-straight games, as this poor stretch may have knocked them out of the playoffs. In fact, Los Angeles is now in 10th place in the west, as they sit three games back on the Minnesota Timberwolves in eighth. It's amazing the Clippers have competed this long though, as they appeared to be in rebuilding mode just this past offseason. Not only did they part ways with Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford in the offseason, the Clippers also traded Blake Griffin just before the trade deadline. Players like Tobias Harris, Lou Williams and DeAndre Jordan have stepped up huge and it's gotten them into contention with just a few weeks remaining.
The Bucks (37-33) come into this matchup losing eight of their last 12 games, as they are steadily following down the Eastern Conference standings. The only bit of good news with that is that the Bucks are a near guarantee to make the playoffs, as they sit six games up on the Detroit Pistons in ninth. It has moved Milwaukee to eighth though, as they appear poised to face the Toronto Raptors in the opening round of the playoffs. The main thing Milwaukee needs to focus on heading into the postseason is their inefficient rebounding, with the Bucks ranking dead-last in the league in that statistic. Making the playoffs is a nice progression for this franchise though, as they have some superb young pieces to build around for the coming years.
Despite the fact that Los Angeles won eight of their previous nine games over Milwaukee coming into the year, the Bucks have won both of their games over the Clippers this season.
Posted on March 20, 2018 at 10:09 PM ET
Updated on March 21, 2018 at 1:02 AM ET
March 21, 2018 at 9:30 PM ET
Spurs Looking for Fifth Straight Win
By Dan Bruno
The San Antonio Spurs play host to the Washington Wizards, at AT&T Center on Wednesday evening.
The Spurs (41-30) are 5-5 in their last 10 games, but have won their last four in a row. This marks the fifth game of a six-game home stand for the Spurs, where they have gone 4-0 so far. They are 27-8 at home so far this season. Kawhi Leonard (quad) is expected to remain sidelined through Wednesday's action. LaMarcus Aldridge continues to lead San Antonio, as he averages 22.7 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. Rudy Gay is back to providing a consistent effort off the bench, averaging 11.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game. Dejounte Murray has been playing well lately, averaging 10.7 points, per game, 6.7 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game over his last 10 games. The Spurs maintain one of the best defenses in the league, as they hold opponents to a league-low 99.0 points per game.
Meanwhile, the Wizards (40-30) are 5-5 in their last 10 games, and have won their last two straight. They have won two of their last three games on the road, where they are 20-15 this season. The Wizards sit fifth place in the East, just 1.0 game behind the third spot. John Wall (knee) remains sidelined. Bradley Beal continues to do his best to lead in the absence of Wall, and is averaging 20.6 points, 6.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds per game over his last 10 games. Markieff Morris has been playing well lately, averaging 15.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game over his last 10 games. On the other hand, Marcin Gortat has been quiet, averaging 6.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game over his last 10 games.
Posted on March 20, 2018 at 9:55 PM ET
Updated on March 21, 2018 at 1:04 AM ET