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Enormous Consequences: Western Conference Takes Center Stage In Battle For NBA Playoff Positioning

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Enormous Consequences is a daily look at the most impactful games in the NBA's playoff races.

Enormous Consequences seems like a funny name for a title of an NBA column that doesn't highlight Sunday afternoon's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and New Jersey Nets that featured six former NBA Development League players playing prominent roles. The enormous consequences SB Nation's readership will read about in the following paragraphs have to do with teams playing for playoff positioning, though -- not the rosters that might erupt from a lockout-shortened basketball season.

Ideally the most important game would be featured on national television, so let's begin with Monday night's ESPN2 game that will feature the Minnesota Timberwolves playing the Phoenix Suns in a game that should have been a battle between Ricky Rubio and Steve Nash. Rubio is out for the season, leaving us to focus on the playoff implications of the Monday night affair.

The Wolves have been on a bad streak ever since the Rubio injury, losing 13 of their last 17 games and all but eliminating themselves from playoff contention with a couple of weeks left in the regular season. The Suns are in better position, though, as Phoenix trails the Denver Nuggets by just one game for the Western Conference's final playoff spot.

The Nuggets will look to pick up a win over the Golden State Warriors (9 p.m., NBA League Pass) as they try to stave off the Suns on Monday night. The Warriors haven't been mathematically eliminated from the postseason quite yet, but a loss to Denver would surely seal their fate.

Sticking with the Western Conference also-rans, the Utah Jazz are attempting to remain relevant as they host the red-hot San Antonio Spurs (9 p.m., NBA League Pass). Utah is less than two games behind the Nuggets and, considering Gregg Popovich and the Spurs often rest their aging stars late in the season, the Jazz could be in line to pick up an easy win to stay close in the clouded conference standings. The Houston Rockets will also attempt to continue moving up the standings with a game against the Portland Trail Blazers (10 p.m., NBA League Pass).

Moving over to the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks have been on the outside looking in over the course of the past couple of weeks. The Bucks have a chance to jump back into the No. 8 seed with a win against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night (8 p.m., NBA League Pass), an opportunity afforded to them thanks to the recent struggles of the Philadelphia 76ers.

The only other game worth paying attention to on Monday night for those looking ahead to the playoffs will be the game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies. Both teams are all pretty securely in the playoffs at this point in time and, if all stays on schedule, would meet in the first round as the fourth and fifth seeds out of the Western Conference.

SPOILER ALERTS

Detroit Pistons at ORLANDO MAGIC, Toronto Raptors at INDIANA PACERS, LOS ANGELES LAKERS at New Orleans Hornets

GAME THAT DOESN'T MATTER, BASICALLY

Washington Wizards at Charlotte Bobcats