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Another Week in Orlando: Finishing the Seeding Games

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A look at the final seeding games

Philadelphia 76ers v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

What a weekend of basketball that was. Luka Doncic and Damian Lillard stole the show, serving as a reminder of just how good the talent in the NBA is right now. We’re nearing the end of the seeding games in Orlando, with just this week remaining before the playoffs. Needless to say, each team will have very different motivations in their remaining games.

Monday

Thunder vs Suns

1:30pm CST, Watch on NBA League Pass

Phoenix legitimately needs to go 8-0 in Orlando to have a shot at the play-in game. They are now 5-0, and Oklahoma City is sitting every non-Chris Paul player of any importance. The stars just might be aligning for the Suns, although it would be peak Suns to blow this one.

Raptors vs Bucks

5:30pm CST, Watch on ESPN

In my opinion this looks like a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. It remains to be seen who will all play in this one, but either way should make for a fun viewing experience. I wouldn’t expect either team to show much in terms of strategy beyond their base sets/defense.

Pacers vs Heat

7:00pm CST, Watch on NBA League Pass

The TJ Warren/Jimmy Butler matchup we’ve all been waiting for is in question as both players are questionable. Needless to say, I hope Warren plays and goes for 40+ tonight, as he’s shown more than capable of in Orlando.

Lakers vs Nuggets

8:00pm CST, Watch on ESPN

The Anthony Davis/Nikola Jokic matchup will be the headliner, but I’m more interested in a few other matchups. Will Denver have a body to throw at LeBron? Who guards Jamal Murray for LA? Can Michael Porter, Jr. keep up his hot shooting? This should be a fun way to close out a great Monday slate.

Tuesday

Spurs vs Rockets

1:00pm CST, Watch on NBA League Pass

The Spurs are onto something with their smaller lineup. I’m not sure how that’ll hold up against a Houston team who is built to play exactly that way, but San Antonio is pushing hard for a playoff spot. It wasn’t that long ago that it seemed impossible that they’d make the playoffs again, but now, it seems almost likely.

Suns vs 76ers

3:30pm CST, Watch on NBA League Pass

This is obviously contingent on what happens Monday for Phoenix, but if they take care of business against Oklahoma City, they might luck out again on Tuesday. There seems to be a pretty real chance that Joel Embiid will miss a bit of time with an injured ankle, joining Ben Simmons on the injury report. Things are breaking well for Phoenix, and this writer thinks they should get to 7-0 in Orlando.

Celtics vs Grizzlies

4:00pm CST, Watch on NBA League Pass

Boston doesn’t have much to play for here, as they’re pretty much locked into the 3-seed. Maybe they’ll rest some guys, which would be incredibly beneficial for Memphis, who has multiple teams racing to the 8-spot.

Blazers vs Mavericks

5:30pm CST, Watch on TNT

This is important to Portland for obvious reasons, but I’m excited mostly just to see how many points get scored in this game. We could see another All-Star Game like score here given the offensive firepower and lack of defense.

Wednesday

Pacers vs Rockets

3:00pm CST, Watch on NBA TV

I’m not sure there are two more different teams in the entire re-start. Indiana’s offense is still very old school whereas Houston is the definition of “modern.” I’m interested to see how these styles look against each other.

Raptors vs Sixers

5:30pm CST, Watch on ESPN

I felt compelled to include this as an interesting game, but I’m not really sure why. Philly is in trouble without Ben Simmons anyways, and they may be without Embiid still at this point. I guess I got suckered into the names, here.

Heat vs Thunder

7:00pm CST, Watch on NBA League Pass

These are just two really good basketball teams. It probably doesn’t have any real playoff implications for a late-season matchup, but if you like watching good basketball, you’ll enjoy this one.

Clippers vs Nuggets

8:00pm CST, Watch on ESPN

In part due to the Clippers lack of interest in these seeding games, there’s a slight chance that there could be some seeding implications here, as Denver is on LA’s heels for the two-seed out West. I’m sure the Clippers will be fine, and maybe they really just don’t care whether they’re the two or the three. All that really matters for them is staying on the opposite side of the bracket from the Lakers, I suppose.

Thursday

Bucks vs Grizzlies — 3pm CST, Watch on League Pass

Mavericks vs Suns — 3pm CST, Watch on TNT

Spurs vs Jazz — 5:30pm CST, Watch on TNT

Blazers vs Nets — 8pm CST, Watch on TNT

I’m bundling these four games together so that we don’t just write the same exact thing four times. The Bucks, Mavs, Jazz and Nets will already know where they stand by this point. There is almost no chance that these games have much meaning for any of those teams. Maybe Utah cares about whether it gets the 4 or 5 seed, but I doubt it. In all likelihood, they’re just going to be doing whatever they can to avoid Houston at this juncture.

That means that the four teams still vying for the play-in spots out West will just need to take care of business. Memphis is probably screwed on that note if Milwaukee plays Giannis at all. I do think the Suns should get to 8-0, but it would be peak Suns to get this close only for Luka to kill their playoff hopes in their final game. San Antonio might just be the better basketball team in their game with Utah by the time that rolls around, and Portland should have no issue with Brooklyn, although the Nets have been feisty. This is shaping up to be a wild, wild day. I was unsure of the play-in idea beforehand, but it’s turned these end of season games into must-see TV.

The Friday game times are still TBD, so we will come through with a preview for those games when times are out and we get a better idea of who will even be playing.