Boston has held things together over their last five games, going 3-2 during that span as each of those contests was played without All-Star guard Kemba Walker. The Celtics host the Nets next (7:30 ET, TNT) and could have Walker back in the mix after he spent Monday taking part in his first practice since before the All-Star break. Whether or not Walker plays, though, the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum has been one of the NBA’s most efficient (and top-scoring) players since the All-Star break, ranking in the Top 10 in both categories since then.
We’ve got six weeks left to sharpen our game before the NBA Playoffs. pic.twitter.com/9EpaAz4IMb
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 2, 2020
Over the next 12 days, the West-leading Lakers can essentially wrap up the No. 1 seed with a strong showing. They host the Philadelphia 76ers (10 ET, TNT) to start a stretch where five of L.A.’s next six games are at home (March 6 vs. Milwaukee, March 10 vs. Brooklyn, March 12 vs. Houston and March 15 vs. Denver). Since losing to the Sixers on Jan. 25, the Lakers are a West-best 10-4 and one of the best Defensive Ratings (106.6) in that span. They haven’t lost to a team currently over .500 since Feb. 6, so this stretch will provide a critical proving ground for L.A. going forward.
Of the teams in the No. 5-8 seed grouping in the West, the Thunder have the second-hardest remaining schedule (only the Grizzlies and Mavs have it tougher). After falling flat against the Bucks last Friday, Oklahoma City hosts the LA Clippers (8 ET, League Pass) — a team it is 1-1 against this season. Overall, the Thunder are 25-14 against the West’s teams over .500, but this will be the first time OKC faces the Clippers at full strength (and with new faces Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris). Both teams have much on the line tonight — LA is looking to pass Denver for No. 2 while OKC can keep pressure on Utah and Houston for the No. 5 and 4 seeds, respectively.
In the 2014-15 season, LeBron James put on the best scoring show of his NBA life, pouring in 61 points to set a Miami Heat record in a 124-107 win against the Charlotte Bobcats. James made 22 of 33 shots from the field, including his first eight 3-point attempts.
Don’t feel too bad if you had forgotten about Sacramento this season, especially after its 12-22 mark as of New Year’s Eve. However, you should be catching some of the Kings’ games as they are a respectable 14-12 since Jan. 1, have won five of their last six games and are tied with the Blazers and Spurs in the chase for No. 8 in the West (3 1/2 games back of the Grizzlies). Aside from that storyline, a matchup with the Wizards (10 ET, League Pass) means a chance to see if Washington’s Bradley Beal can keep his streak of 25-point games going, too.