2014 NBA schedule: Pacers and Spurs square off, Raptors visit Heat

Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The best of both conferences face off in Indianapolis, but the Spurs and Pacers are finishing up a very different month of March.

The 10-game NBA schedule on Monday includes a battle of conference leaders, another between two squads that should be new to the playoff grind, and finally, a game between two of the East's best three teams.

The main course: Spurs vs. Pacers

7 p.m. ET, NBATV

The battle of conference leaders might not be what it appears to be at first glance, but it's still the most significant game of Monday's schedule. While the San Antonio Spurs go for a perfect month of March and their 18th win in a row, the Indiana Pacers will be trying to stop a spiral that has lost them five of their last seven games.

Over the month of March, Gregg Popovich's Spurs lead the NBA in both offensive and defensive efficiency, while Indiana's offense has gone cold enough where its top-five defense hasn't been able to win games lately. The Pacers haven't scored in the 100s for eight games now, and only once in the last five games -- an 84-83 win against the Miami Heat -- did they crack 80 points.

The Spurs? They're rolling on refreshed legs courtesy of a capable 10-deep rotation over the past few games.

Lance Stephenson is the only starter who hasn't been bit by a nasty bug and is the only Pacers starter shooting better than 40 percent from the floor over the past 10 games; he did this to Tony Parker early last year, and Indiana will need some magic like this to get back on track.

The appetizer: Wizards vs. Bobcats

7 p.m. ET

The Wizards and Bobcats appear to be relatively locked into their respective sixth and seventh spots in the Eastern Conference playoff race with fifth-place Brooklyn 1.5 games ahead of Washington and the stumbling Atlanta Hawks 3.5 games behind Charlotte. Three games separate Washington and Charlotte, making a swap hard to imagine this late in the year. Yet, two teams learning to fight playoff-style battles will gain a good deal of experience in the matter by facing one another.

The teams have split the season series 1-1, with Charlotte having won the last game on March 12. Al Jefferson got the best of the Wizards with a 26-point night in a 98-85 win, but John Wall and Co. had best attack him in the pick-and-roll.

Sunday Shootaround

The dessert: Raptors vs. Heat

7:30 p.m. ET

The second and third seeds in the Eastern Conference square off with the Heat likely not at full strength. Dwyane Wade (hamstring) is listed as doubtful, as is Greg Oden. Ray Allen is likely out with an illness and point guard Mario Chalmers is a game-time decision.

Toronto has won three games in a row and would break a losing spell against Miami with a victory. The Raptors haven't won in their last 14 meetings -- or since Chris Bosh left them to join LeBron James in Miami.

The remaining schedule (ET)

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Atlanta Hawks, 7:30 p.m.

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Detroit Pistons, 7:30 p.m.

Boston Celtics vs. Chicago Bulls, 8 p.m.

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, 8 p.m.

Sacramento Kings vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 8 p.m.

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Denver Nuggets, 9 p.m.

New York Knicks vs. Utah Jazz, 9 p.m.

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