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.
L.A. Lakers – Kobe Bryant had surgery on Saturday to repair his ruptured Achilles and is hoping to return in the next six to nine months. Some people don’t think he’ll be ready to really play until closer to a year, but then again, he’s Kobe. They got a tough win over the Spurs Sunday and only have to win on Wednesday at home vs. Houston, or see the Jazz lose one of their final two games, to get in. Steve Blake went nuts on Sunday, and looks like a strong play, along with Dwight Howard, Pau Gasol and Antawn Jamison in their final game, if it still means something.
Memphis – The Grizzlies fell to the Clippers on Saturday and currently sit tied with them, and also sit just a game behind Denver for the No. 3 seed. That means they still have something to play for, which should be good news for Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and maybe Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince.
Miami – The Big 3 were back in action for the Heat on Sunday when they beat the Bulls. All five Heat starters (Mario Chalmers & Mike Miller) hit double figures in that one, but it already sounds like LeBron and Wade will sit out on Monday, while Bosh isn’t a lock to play in both of their final two games. Miller and Chalmers look like strong plays any time Bron and Wade are out.
Milwaukee – The Bucks are locked into the No. 8 seed for a date with the Heat, so it’s possible they give the starters a rest. Brandon Jennings (Achilles) and Larry Sanders (back) were both out on Saturday, and are very iffy for this week. Mike Dunleavy, J.J. Redick, Monta Ellis, Ersan Ilyasova and John Henson will all step up in their place, as long as Monta and Ilyasova aren’t on the bench getting a breather. Watch for news on all these guys.
Minnesota – Nikola Pekovic missed Saturday’s game with a left calf contusion, so watch for updates on him. Obviously, the Wolves have nothing left to play for, but I’m guessing Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour, J.J. Barea, Derrick Williams and Dante Cunningham are all worth a shot if Pek is out, while Greg Stiemsma is also worth a look.
New Orleans – The Hornets have just one game left and nothing to play for. Greivis Vasquez was back from his ankle injury on Sunday, but was once again outplayed by Brian Roberts. Which player will be better on Wednesday is anyone’s guess. Ryan Anderson looks good to go with Anthony Davis’ knee injury, while Eric Gordon, Robin Lopez and Al-Farouq Aminu could all play well on Wednesday.
New York – Carmelo Anthony has already been ruled out for Monday, but says his shoulder if fine. He could also sit on Wednesday. With the Knicks locked into the No. 2 seed, Chris Copeland, Pablo Prigioni, Iman Shumpert and Steve Novak could all have nice lines this week. But check back to see who is in and who is out before making moves.
Oklahoma City – The OKC still have to win to hold off the Spurs, so look for the usual suspects to keep playing well until they clinch the No. 1 overall seed. Once it happens, it’s anyone’s guess who will be playing on Wednesday.
Orlando – Jameer Nelson’s season is probably over due to an ankle injury, so Beno Udrih, along with Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris look like the must-starts.
Philadelphia – Doug Collins won’t be back and the Sixers won’t make the playoffs. The minutes were normal for the starters and bench on Sunday, so I’m going to assume it’s business as usual for the final two games.
Phoenix – Markieff Morris went off on Saturday with 20 points, nine boards and three 3-pointers, along with Goran Dragic, Wes Johnson and Jared Dudley. Luis Scola also looks like a strong play, despite his eight TOs in that one. Michael Beasley didn’t play again on Saturday, but maybe he’ll be in there on Monday. Jermaine O’Neal was a late scratch for that one with a bruised shin, leaving him iffy for the week.
Portland – Damian Lillard, Will Barton and J.J. Hickson all went off on Sunday, while Meyers Leonard and Victor Claver also started. Wesley Matthews (ankle), LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle) and Nicolas Batum (shoulder) were out on Sunday, so watch for news on them heading into Tuesday and Wednesday’s games.
Sacramento – Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins and Marcus Thornton saw limited action on Sunday, meaning we don’t know what’s in store for the final two games. Cole Aldrich went off for 12 points, 12 boards and four blocks on Sunday, and could be a sneaky (and risky) play going forward, along with Travis Outlaw, who had a season-high 15.
San Antonio – The Spurs fell to the Lakers Sunday but are still in the hunt for the No. 1 seed in the West. Danny Green, Tim Duncan, Tony Parker (1-of-10, 4 points), Tiago Splitter and Kawhi Leonard are all possible plays, along with Gary Neal. Stay tuned.
Toronto – The Raps beat the Nets on Sunday as DeMar DeRozan scored 36, Rudy Gay had 26, and Kyle Lowry, Aaron Gray and Amir Johnson all played heavy minutes. Those are the guys to roll with this week, at least for now.
Utah – The Jazz are still fighting for a playoff berth and Al Jefferson had 40 on Friday. Jefferson, Mo Williams, Gordon Hayward, Paul Millsap, Randy Foye and Derrick Favors are all worth a look here.
Washington – John Wall is the only sure bet in Washington (if he doesn’t rest), while Garrett Temple, Emeka Okafor, Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker could all play well. Nene (knee, foot) has reportedly ruled himself out for the final two games, along with Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster, which is good news for Okafor, Seraphin and Booker, and maybe Cartier Martin.
I’ll be back this week with another Dose on Monday night, a Waiver Wired Awards column, as well as the first mock draft late in the week.