Enormous Consequences is a daily look at the most impactful games in the NBA's playoff races.
The NBA season is slowly winding down, but Monday night's schedule is anything but slow, as 11 games will take place to begin the week. Not every game has playoff implications, unfortunately, but enormous consequences await the losers of a few of the games slated to take place around the league.
Since the Western Conference is still a mess, let's get the easier-to-recap Eastern Conference's enormous consequences out of the way first. The seventh-seeded Philadelphia 76ers can move an even three games up on the Milwaukee Bucks with a win on Monday night over the Dwight Howard-less Orlando Magic (7 p.m. EDT, NBA TV). If that happens, it all but assures the Sixers a playoff berth -- leaving the last spot in the East to either the Bucks or New York Knicks, both of which are idle on Monday night.
The Western Conference, as alluded to earlier, doesn't have such a clear view when it comes to the playoff picture. Technically, only three teams -- the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers -- have officially punched their tickets to the playoffs in the West, leaving five spots up for grabs ... and three really up for grabs.
Starting out at the bottom and working our way up, the Portland Trail Blazers will put their playoff lives on the line against the Phoenix Suns (10 p.m., NBA League Pass). Neither team is currently in the top eight in the West, but the Suns are only one game out of the mix while the Blazers are barely hanging on at 4.5 games out heading into Monday night's action.
The Utah Jazz are also dangerously close to being eliminated, but a win against the Dallas Mavericks (9 p.m., NBA League Pass) would muck the standings once again. The Mavericks are currently sitting in sixth place, three games in front of the Jazz, but a Utah win would more than likely move the momentum.
Rounding out games with enormous consequences, two teams with contentious footholds in the playoff standings will match up on Monday night as the Houston Rockets host the Denver Nuggets at 8 p.m. on NBA League Pass. The Nuggets are in seventh place while the Rockets are in eighth, but with only one game separating the two teams, Monday night's game does indeed have enormous consequences for the loser.
The rest of Monday night's schedule doesn't feature any other teams with playoff hopes on the line, but there is definitely another game that should be worth watching: A potential second-round matchup will take place at 10:30 p.m. on NBA TV when the Los Angeles Clippers host the Oklahoma City Thunder.