The End Of The Regular Season: Should You Care?
We’ve come to the point in the season where, frankly, a lot of the games don’t matter. The playoff teams in the East are decided, while in the West, it looks like a contest between the Lakers and the Jazz for the eighth seed.
Contenders will play each other, like the Spurs and the Nuggets on Wednesday, but they’re limping into the postseason, and you have to think they won’t play full-tilt. So with just nine days left of regular season basketball, I wanted to look at the remaining nationally televised games and whether you should care.
Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics
In the east, the game is to avoid Miami. Right now, Brooklyn is in the fourth seed, and would play the Heat in the second round if they beat Chicago. The Celtics are in seventh, and matched up against the Knicks. I think Boston would prefer to stay there and assure that they wouldn’t face Miami until the eastern conference finals. But they’re also old, injured and crazy enough to believe they can beat the Heat. The Nets are probably indifferent to whether they finish fourth, fifth, or sixth, all of which are possible given how tight the standings are in the middle of the bracket—they might prefer to drop to sixth to avoid Miami until the eastern conference finals. So you should care about this game as much as New York Times readers care about WrestleMania.
San Antonio Spurs at Denver Nuggets
Maybe the Spurs will fight for the top seed, but with Tony Parker hurt, and given everything we know about Greg Popovich, I’m guessing you should care about this game as much as Mike Rice cares about his players’ feelings.
New York Knicks at Chicago Bulls
The Bulls are in the same standings situation as the Nets. The Knicks, as of Sunday, have a slight edge for the second seed over the Pacers, which I assume they’ll want to keep to play the Celtics, no matter how much they’d rather play the Hawks. There’s also the matter of the scoring title. Carmelo Anthony leads Kevin Durant by a hair after Sunday’s games, and even though he says he’s all about team ball, I think he’ll want the scoring title as a feather in his cap. Look for him to let fly for the rest of the season. You should care as much as I care about college basketball—meh.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors
The Thunder will want to move up. The Warriors have no hope of moving up from sixth, but they have to win to avoid dropping to seventh and possibly facing the Thunder or the Spurs in round one, so both these teams have something to play for. You should care as much as Margaret Thatcher cared about fiscal responsibility.
Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat
The Heat have been sitting their stars, both to rest them for the playoffs and to infuriate fantasy basketball players. They have the top seed, and I don’t think they’ll lose sleep if they lose home court in the finals. You should care as much as Ray J cares about propriety.
Indiana Pacers at Boston Celtics
This is a possible first-round matchup. The Pacers are healthy aside from Danny Granger, who they’ve been missing for a while. They can pursue the second seed without needing to rest players. The Celtics, as we’ve noted, are old as dirt. You should care as much as today’s teenagers care about Kurt Cobain—meh.
Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers
The Blazers are dead and buried. The Clippers could try to move up to the third seed, but they’re in just as much danger as falling to fifth. You should care as much as Facebook cares about your privacy.
Utah Jazz at Memphis Grizzlies
Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers
Last day of the season! These games could decide who the eighth seed is, so both the Jazz and the Lakers will play to win. The Rockets, as of today, still have a shot at moving up to sixth, while the Grizzlies could catch a banged up Denver to claim the third seed. It’s possible that all four of these teams will have something to play for. As a result, you should care as much as South Koreans care about Kim Jong-Un’s mood.
In general though, the playoffs can’t come soon enough.