Most of the sporting world will, rightfully, focus on college hoops, but there are some important NBA games with very important playoff implications. The Knicks can get within two games of a playoff spot after Sunday night and the Suns can keep pushing towards the coveted eighth spot in the East. Let's talk about it.
Phoenix Suns vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
League Pass; 3:30 p.m. ET
The Suns need to win every game they can from here on out if they want to back their way into a playoff spot. They are three games back of the sixth-place Warriors, 1.5 games back of the seventh-place Mavericks, and just one game back of the eighth-place Grizzlies. With 13 games left on their schedule, the Suns have a legitimate chance at making that run, but they need to take care of business of teams they can beat. They can beat the Timberwolves.
Minnesota, despite a top-11 offense and defense, are all but eliminated from the playoffs. Fans will likely look at this season as a wash from the Timberwolves: they are at the dawn of a very tricky Kevin Love free agency situation and their point guard of the future has plateaued a bit in his development. A late lottery pick this summer can help ease the pain, but the Timberwolves will need to nail that pick.
League Pass; 1 p.m
Toronto is fighting for and currently owns home court advantage as the Eastern Conference three seed. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are playing the very best ball of their professional careers and Toronto's overall length has created a very good team defense. They will look to hold off a Hawks team that is fighting for their very lives.
Atlanta holds a three-game lead over the Knicks for the eighth spot in the East, but New York has won eight games in a row and is hitting a stride through the home stretch of the season. Every game matters if the Hawks plan to hold off the hot-handed Knickerbockers.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. New York Knicks
League Pass; 7:30 p.m.
Speaking of the Knicks, they host the Cavaliers in a very winnable game that could push their win-streak to nine straight. During that winning streak, the Knicks have the second best net-rating (13.4) in the NBA and they are absolutely blowing teams away on the offensive end (116 points per 100 possessions). The Phil Jackson effect, of course.
Cleveland has lost four straight and is practically eliminated from the playoffs. They have looked all out of sorts on both ends during that stretch with a net-rating of -9 in that span (which is sixth worst in the league), per NBA.com/stats. The Knicks could potentially get within two games of the Hawks, provided they take care of business and so does Toronto.
Brooklyn Nets vs Dallas Mavericks -- League Pass; 7:30 p.m.