26th April 2012, the final night of a lockout affected NBA regular season. Only a few issues left to be resolved. With Chicago, Miami, Indiana, Boston, Atlanta, Orlando, New York and Philadelphia having clinched playoff spots in the east and Spurs, Thunder, Lakers, Memphis, Clippers, Denver, Dallas and Utah also heading into the post-season, Guy Sports Views Josh Coyne explores the ways in which the final 13 games being played tonight, do indeed matter.
Philadelphia 76ers – Detroit Pistons
76ers can still grab the 7th spot, which would see them face Miami instead of Chicago in the playoffs (LeBron James and Dwayne Wade to defend? Phew, what a relief), but they would need a win in Detroit and New York, who are currently 7th, to lose to Charlotte Bobcats, who unfortunately for the Sixers, have a horrific season record of 7 wins and a whopping 58 losses. The preferred playoff opponent choice for Philadelphia is a hard one, which means that there is a chance they may not even contest tonight’s game, thus staying in the 8th spot, however, Detroit’s draft lottery chances may improve slightly with a loss, so do not expect a battle for the ages.
New Jersey (Soon to be Brooklyn) Nets – Toronto Raptors
Absolutely massive game involving two teams with only 22 wins for the season so far. This game could become ridiculously non-competitive, as the loser of the match-up can not finish any lower than 6th in the May 30th Draft Lottery, as they both try to pick up some fresh talent. Did somebody say lowest scoring game of NBA history? No one even knows what to expect here, someone has to win and it is not going to be pretty.
Milwaukee Bucks – Boston Celtics
Do not watch this game. The only thing riding on this game is that a win and a Hawks loss gets Boston home court advantage as the sides face off in the playoffs. Bench players will get all the minutes, with possible cameos from the the Celtics ‘big four’, do not be surprised if coach Doc Rivers suits up for a shoot around.
New York Knicks – Charlotte Bobcats
Due to the Sixers’ lack of passion for their fixture in Detroit tonight, New York’s attitude will most probably mirror that of Philadelphia, with the biggest possible impact of this game being on Charlotte, who with a loss tonight, would become the actual worst team in NBA history. Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Bobcats, worst winning percentage ever, if this happens, no ‘Space Jam 2′.
Miami Heat – Washington Wizards
Another team that MJ has been involved with, Washington Wizards, have nothing to play for tonight, as they have already secured the 2nd worst league record for 2011/2012, despite a recent streak which has seen them win the last 5 games. One thing to watch in tonight’s game is the performance of everybody’s favourite self proclaimed ‘king’ LeBron James, who is in contention for the league MVP award. LeBron recently stated that he would be extremely proud to get the award for the third time, with fellow contender Kevin Durant also stating that he deserves it. One last game to impress.
Dallas Mavericks – Atlanta Hawks
It’s quite simple here, if Dallas win this game and Denver lose in Minnesota, the Champs would take the 6th seed in the Western conference, which pits them against the L.A. Lakers in the first round instead of the Oklahoma City Thunder. Atlanta will try to clinch home court advantage ahead of their series with Boston Celtics.
Orlando Magic – Memphis Grizzlies
The Dwight-less Orlando Magic face the Grizzlies in Memphis, having already claimed their 6th sport in the east, leaving them with no reason to compete, which is why I will be playing at the centre position tonight…..maybe. Memphis however, will want to win this, as the L.A. Clippers lost their final two games, leaving Grizzlies with an opportunity to take home court advantage when the two teams lock horns in the first round next week.
Cleveland Cavaliers – Chicago Bulls
The Cavs are level with Sacramento and New Orleans at 21 wins, putting them all at 3rd worst in the league. If any of these teams win, they will join the loser of Nets – Raptors in the next tied tier. A Chicago win would secure the best overall record of the league, with the main advantage being the potential home court advantage were they to meet San Antonio in the NBA finals.
New Orleans Hornets – Houston Rockets
The Hornets are involved in the Kings and Cavs situation, which means a win could land them the 7th seed in the default draft order. Houston only have the battle for the 13th pick on their minds, will not be a huge game in terms of consequences.
Denver Nuggets – Minnesota Timberwolves
The Nuggets look to secure the 6th seed instead of Dallas, which would mean that they play the L.A. Lakers in the first round. Denver will have a hard time with both L.A. And Oklahoma, but still deem the 6th spot important enough to compete tonight. This game means absolutely naff all to Minnesota, whose guaranteed 10th draft pick belongs to the Who Dat Nation anyway.
Portland Trailblazers – Utah Jazz
48 minutes of nothing that matters.
L.A. Lakers – Sacramento Kings
Probably the one to watch, Kobe Bryant at the age of 33 looks to win the NBA scoring title ahead of Kevin Durant, which he needs 38 points to do. Kobe has done it all, winning 5 championships and Olympic gold, but has not won this award since 06/07*, meaning that everyone should expect a focused Mr Bryant, despite the risk of injury. Lakers as a whole have nothing to fight for as they are guaranteed the Western 3rd spot, which probably means Bynum and Gasol will sit. Kings, like New Orleans and Cleveland, battle for the third worst record.
San Antonio Spurs – Golden State Warriors
For Golden State, losing to San Antonio would leave their draft lottery fate to a coin flip, ludicrously. If Detroit lose and Golden State win, the result could be devastating.
So yeah, watch some basketball tonight!
*article edited due to mistake regarding Kobe Bryant and the NBA season scorer award. Eventually Bryant chose to sit the game out and not challenge for the scorers title.