Only four teams will play on Thursday night in the NBA, but each member of the quartet is headed to the 2013 NBA Playoffs. That should make for compelling television in each of the two primetime games on TNT. In the first game at 8 p.m. ET, Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks will try to extend their winning streak to 14 games in a contest against the Bulls. Then Devin Durant and the Thunder will look to protect their tenuous hold on the No. 1 overall seed in the Western Conference in a game against the Warriors at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Carmelo has been incredible over the last 50 games. He scored 50 points against the Heat, 40 versus the Hawks, 41 on the Bucks and then 36 apiece against the Thunder and Wizards. That's a 40.6 points per game average on 61.1 percent shooting over that span, including 58.6 percent shooting from three-point range. Here's a look at his shot chart:
Will Melo go off again in front a national audience? Tom Thibodeau's defense will have its work cut out for it on Thursday. The Bulls are just percentage points ahead of the Hawks for the No. 5 spot at the moment.
In the late game, the Thunder need a win to keep the No. 1 seed in the West for another day. They moved up by virtue of a Spurs loss on Wednesday to the Nuggets, and now OKC has the top spot thanks to the secondary tiebreaker status. With San Antonio idle on Thursday, OKC can only stay at No. 1 with a win. It controls its own destiny at the moment, but will that be the case when the night is over?