The inter-conference play this week will be major as teams fight for playoff positioning as well as their season series. Each team looking at making the playoffs mentioned will have a chance to prove that they are ready for the primetime games in April.
Boston Celtics @ Philadelphia 76ers - Wednesday 20th March 2019
This game represents a chance for the Philadelphia 76ers to get a chance at revenge and avoid a season sweep as the season’s end draws ever closer. Having lost the previous three games against Boston, the 76ers will need a win here to show that they are ready should they face off in the playoffs. This game will mark the second time that Philadelphia’s big four will be together against Boston and they will need improvements on Tobias Harris’ 0-6 3pt shooting night that saw him end with 10 points.
For Boston the game represents the opportunity to claw their way back into a home playoff spot over the Indiana Pacers. They would face the Pacers in the first round and home court advantage could play a major factor with both teams holding a .500 away record so far. A win could also set up a chance to take on the 76ers in the second round of the playoffs, a matchup that has been favourable for them this season.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Toronto Raptors – Friday 22nd March 2019
The Thunder’s current run of three straight losses and 4-6 in their last 10 games has seen them fall from the fourth in the West to sixth. It is a concerning slide that they will need to rectify if they are to get right before the playoffs start. Their lack of depth has caught up to them in recent week and will be a major concern should they make the postseason.
For the Raptors the game represents an opportunity to maintain their pressure on the Milwaukee Bucks atop the Eastern Conference. They lost the tiebreaker to the Bucks and so will need a better record than their Eastern rivals to ensure the number one seed in the postseason and home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
San Antonio Spurs @ Houston Rockets – Friday 22nd March 2019
The Houston Rockets are 9-1 in their last 10 games, their surge as of late has put them in the third seed after a streaky start to the season. With a win on Friday the Rockets can wrap up the season series against their storied rivals and build some serious momentum against their potential first round playoff opponents.
The Spurs have been on a good run themselves, sitting at 8-2 in their last 10 games, they have climbed into the sixth seed and their eight game win streak puts them just a single game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder. The same can be said for the Spurs, a win would tie the season series and give them a good look against their potential first round playoff foes. A tied season series will make for great watching when the postseason rolls around.
By Sonny Cohen