It's often tough to tell which games are the ones to watch as we go down the stretch of the 2010/11 NBA schedule. Nevertheless, here's ten games we think will be good ones in March and April:
10. Oklahoma City Thunder at Atlanta Hawks: March 4, 7:30 p.m.
When the Thunder came to Atlanta last year, they played in one of the best games of the season, one that was punctuated with this dunk below. Both teams should be fighting for playoff positioning, so this game should be a good one.
9. Washington Wizards at Chicago Bulls: March 15, 8:00 p.m.
This will likely be the last chance we'll get to see John Wall and Derrick Rose go up against each other this season. That is, unless the Wizards shock everyone and make the playoffs.
8. Denver Nuggets at Utah Jazz: April 15, 8:00 p.m.
Of all the games scheduled for the last day of the NBA season, this is the one that'll likely have the most significant playoff implications. Both teams will probably be fighting for positioning in what will probably be a deep Western Conference.
7. Washington Wizards at Los Angeles Clippers: March 23, 10:30 p.m.
This is the second of two games between the last two number one overall picks, John Wall and Blake Griffin. Both are rookies this year, in case you forgot. Could the Rookie of the Year be up for grabs?
6. Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls: April 7, 8:00 p.m., TNT
This game could potentially decide a top seed in the Eastern Conference and maybe determine which team avoids Miami until the Eastern Conference Finals. Of course, I'm looking ahead, but I think that first sentence is a safe bet.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers: April 10, 9:30 p.m., NBATV
The last of four meetings between these two teams. My guess is we won't see them play in the first round again.
4. Orlando Magic at Los Angeles Lakers: March 14, 10:30 p.m., ESPN
Orlando might need this game to keep pace with Miami, but winning in LA will be a tall order. I'm also personally looking forward to a Quentin Richardson-Matt Barnes slapfest at some point.
3. Miami Heat at Cleveland Cavaliers: March 29, 7:00 p.m.
At this point, the Cavaliers will probably have nothing to play for, except to embarrass LeBron James. That should make for an interesting crowd, if nothing else.
2. Los Angeles Lakers at Miami Heat: March 10, 8:00 p.m., TNT
A possible Finals preview. Oops, sorry, getting ahead of myself again.
1. Miami Heat at Boston Celtics: April 10, 3:30 p.m., ABC
My guess is that Miami will have the East locked up by this point, but I still think this is a big game. Why? Boston is probably going to be just rounding into shape, and they need to play well to make a statement that the East road still goes through them. That means we might get their best effort of the year, and that may spur Miami as well, especially if the 72-win record is within their sites.