Nets at Heat:
The Brooklyn Nets are very likely going to make the playoffs, as they are currently the 6th seed and I believe they are improving as a team right now, with the return of Caris Levert and eventually Spencer Dinwiddie. The Heat, on the other hand, are just 27-34 and a horrible 12-18 at home. However, this is not a situation where the Heat are out of the playoff picture. They are only 2.5 games out of 7th place in the East. The Heat are also getting healthier with the recent additions of Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters back into the lineup. I expect the Heat to make a late-season push towards a playoff berth for Wade’s ride out into the sunset and I think this is a great place to start. I expect the Heat to win this game at home on Saturday night.
Warriors at 76ers:
The Warriors are entering this game off of a loss to the Magic when they were without both Kevin Durant and Andre Iguodala. The Warriors led most of that game, but they really went cold late and eventually let the game slip away. The good news for Golden State is that they will likely be well-rested and facing an Embiid-less 76er team. We do not have official word on Embiid’s status, but I expect him to sit until we hear otherwise. The rest of the 76ers starting lineup has done well without Embiid, but they are still not even close to the same team without Embiid. This is a national TV game for the Warriors, and I think it is a great game for them to use as a playoff test run with Boogie Cousins now without a minutes limit. I think the Warriors show up in a big way for this one and take a big game in Philly.
Thunder at Spurs:
The Oklahoma City Thunder are coming into this potential postseason matchup off of a close loss to the 76ers without Paul George. George was listed out of that game with shoulder soreness, and we do not have any more information on if George will suit up for this game, but I currently expect him to. My guess is he complained about slight pain due to general wear and tear, and they want to take a few days to give it a break and do some more treatment. If we see George suit up, I think the Thunder have too much firepower for the Spurs, even in San Antonio. Both of these teams are very star-centric, but the Thunder stars are just better, and I think that will show in this game.
Bucks at Jazz:
This is a great matchup between two very fundamentally sound teams that play good defense and shoot the ball well. Both of these teams are very long and tough to get easy points against. In the Bucks last game, we saw Giannis Antetokounmpo play limited minutes after sitting out the previous game. I was really surprised that this was the case, but it is something to look out for in this game. If we do get Giannis out or limited, I like the Jazz to pull a slight upset in this one. In their previous meeting this year, Giannis took 30 FG attempts because he is the best way to attack the Jazz because he is still longer than the rest of them. If Giannis does play his full minutes, I think the Bucks win a very close game on the road.
Rockets at Celtics:
The big game on Sunday is between two talented teams headed in different directions. The Rockets are getting back to full strength, with Clint Capela finally seeing his full run and Chris Paul back in the fold. The Celtics have really struggled recently, as losers of their last 4 games. There has been a lot of drama surrounding the Celtics and Kyrie Irving, and I think this is a potential turning point game. The Celtics are hosting a top-tier team at home in a stand-alone Sunday afternoon game on ABC, and this is the time to attempt to flip the switch. I think the Celtics take care of business here and attempt to mend relationships within the locker room moving forward with a win.