The NBA All-Star break was last weekend, marking the halfway point of the season. Though many teams reached their season’s midpoint about a month ago, last weekend was the approximate midway point in between opening night and when a champion team is crowned in June. The playoffs are still nearly two months away, and the final stretch of the regular season can be dull since so many games are between teams who gave up on their season weeks ago. However, there are plenty of great games still to be played between teams trying to get in playoff positioning, and other matchups that we may see again in the postseason. Here are 10 of the best remaining games of the NBA regular season (listed in chronological order). Not all games are nationally televised. A link to the current standings can be found below
February 24 (7:00 ESPN)- Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors: This is a great game immediately following the All-Star break for a variety of reasons. The Cavaliers have been the runaway favorite to win the Eastern Conference all season, but these two teams are Cleveland’s biggest threats from within the conference. The Cavaliers recently lost Kevin Love for about 6 weeks, and his injury as well as the upcoming trade deadline could open the door for someone else to come out of the East. The Raptors already made their big move when they acquired Serge Ibaka from Orlando, and this will be his first game with the team. The Celtics have a war chest of talented young players and draft picks that they could package to land a big name at the trade deadline. Furthermore, these two teams play in the same division, and this could potentially be a second round playoff series.
March 1 (7:00 ESPN)- Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics: The Celtics and the Cavaliers have already played each other twice this year, with the Cavaliers winning both games in Cleveland. This game is in Boston, and it could be a big statement game for the Celtics if they are able to win. The Celtics are only a couple games back of the Cavaliers, and whether or not they win this game could determine if they will be able to steal the number one seed from the Cavaliers and get home court advantage in a possible playoff series. This could be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. These two teams also play each other on April 5.
March 6 (7:30)- Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs: There are a couple games separating the Spurs from the Rockets in the standings, but this could still be a great game. The Spurs have the 2nd best record in the league and the Rockets have the 4th best record in the league, and there is a very good chance these two teams could meet in the second round of the playoffs. This is the last time they will play each other this season.
March 11 (7:30 ABC)- Golden State Warriors at San Antonio Spurs: This game will be a matchup of the top two teams in the league record wise. The Spurs humiliated the Warriors by beating them by 29 points on the road on opening night in late October, and this is the first time they have played each other since. There is a good chance that this matchup is a preview of the Western Conference Finals. These two teams also play each other on March 29.
March 12 (8:00 ESPN)- Cleveland Cavaliers at Houston Rockets: Yet another game that features two of the four best records in the league due to their high powered offenses. Expect a lot of scoring in this game. Since these two teams are in different conferences, there is not much at stake for the playoffs but there is a small chance that this could end up being a preview of The Finals.
March 20 (6:30)- Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics: These two teams currently have the 2nd best record (Celtics) and 3rd best record (Wizards) in the Eastern Conference. There is a good chance this could be a second round playoff series, as both of these teams will look to challenge the Cavaliers for Eastern Conference Supremacy. The Celtics need to add size and the Wizards need to add depth, but if they can put the pieces together at the trade deadline the stakes could be very high when these teams face off in March. Furthermore, the Celtics and the Wizards are developing a fun rivalry. When they played in January, they got into an altercation near the end of the game and when they played again a couple weeks later, the Wizards wore all black to the game, a gesture that is usually saved for playoff elimination games.
March 25 (6:30)- Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers: The emergence of the Wizards in recent weeks has given the Cavaliers another team in the East that could give them problems. When these two teams played on Feb. 6, the Cavaliers won a 140-135 thriller in overtime that ended the Wizards 17 game home winning streak. The Wizards were done in by their inability to get stops at the end of the game and their lack of depth. If they can address those issues at the trade deadline, this game could determine if they are seriously ready to challenge the Cavaliers in a possible playoff series.
March 27 (7:00 TNT)- Cleveland Cavaliers at San Antonio Spurs: Another matchup that features two of the top teams in the league. It remains to be seen how much each of these teams will have to play for in late March, as they probably will be comfortably locked into playoff spots by this point. However, LeBron James and the Spurs have history that will make for a compelling matchup, and when these teams played earlier in the season the Spurs won a thriller on the road in overtime. There is a chance this could be a preview of the Finals.
March 28 (7:00 NBATV)- Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets: These two teams are the two best three-point shooting teams in the league, and feature a pair of MVP candidates in Stephen Curry and James Harden. The Warriors and the Rockets have met in the playoffs each of the last two seasons, with the Warriors winning both times. The Rockets are one of the few teams in the league that can score at the same pace as the Warriors, but they will need to make upgrades on defense in order to have a chance to beat them in a playoff series. There is a chance that they could see each other again in the Western Conference Finals. These two teams also play each other on March 31.
April 10 (9:30 TNT)- Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers: It’s too early to tell what kind of playoff implications this game may have, but this matchup occurs in the final week of the regular season and could impact the entire Western Conference playoff picture. The Rockets are firmly entrenched into the 3 seed as of now, and should stay there for the remainder of the season, but the Clippers are battling the Grizzlies and the Jazz for the 4th seed in the West. It remains to be seen whether or not the Clippers will make a major move at the trade deadline, but this game could determine seeding for the Clippers, which could have a domino effect on the entire Western Conference playoff picture. If the Clippers lose this game, they may fall into the six seed and we could see this matchup again in the first round of the playoffs.