March has brought NBA Friday back. It is that time of year when everything, and I mean everything, is geared towards getting right for the postseason. While it is officially March Madness for the NCAA, the NBA is also experiencing madness, as last night in Miami was complete pandemonium as were the final moments in Utah. Kenyon, really? Kirilenko, really? Oddest 1.5 seconds I have ever seen.
Lets look to tonight:
Bulls @ Magic
Both teams are red hot. The Bulls have been all the buzz lately whether it is Derrick Rose for MVP, Tom Thibodeau for Coach of the Year or the Bulls stealing home court from the Celtics/Heat, Chicago is serious – and tonight is another test they look to pass on the road. The Magic went from sinking ship to a hot streak – which includes last night’s crazy comeback in Miami – faster than Stan Van Gundy dismisses the option of ever wearing a tie on the bench. The Magic seem to be pulling together after having some trouble finding that “chemistry” following their deal with the Suns. The big picture question for Orlando is this: Who will be the consistent second scorer? The question tonight is this: Who is going to keep Rose out of the paint on the dribble? Should be a real good one in Orlando.
T-Wolves @ Sixers
Cue afternoon yawn like I need a 5-hour Energy. Philly is on a roll as they are back at .500 for the first time since the Lynch Mob was in full effect. But seriously, Doug Collins, as Pat Cassidy has mentioned, has become this wise wizard-like presence as a head coach and has Philly in postseason position. The playoffs is exactly what this team needs to experience in order for them to keep improving in what is now the “EAST IS BEAST” conference. If they can keep Kevin Love from having a 30-30 game, they should head into the weekend one game over .500. You can bet Lynch is watching.
Thunder @ Hawks
With KD spraining his ankle last night, this went from terrific match-up down to good matchup. Without Jeff Green to fill in as the second scorer behind Westbrook, it will be interesting to see who steps up for OKC. The Hawks are beginning to show some signs, as they will be very confident coming out of the tunnel tonight following their big win over the Bulls. Al Horford keeps showing the League why he is an All-Star, and the Hinrich-for-Bibby deal seems to be paying off chemistry-wise for Atlanta.
Warriors @ Celtics
This will be a mix of a game and practice for the Celtics tonight, as serious minutes will be played by Bradley, Murphy, Green, Krstic, Wafer and Pavlovic (if he is ready to go). With Glen Davis only out a week after the scare the other night, and Shaq on the way, the Green are simply trying to get everyone on the same page for the playoffs. The Warriors are going to bring it tonight, as the Celtics slapped them in Oakland coming out of the All-Star break. Should be an entertaining up-and-down game at the Garden.
Cavs @ Knicks
If there was ever a perfect time for the Knicks to avenge a recent loss it is tonight. With Billups out, Toney Douglas will again start, as the Knicks look to give the Cavs some payback from last week in Cleveland. Between the insanity which is Baron Davis and Byron Scott and how explosive ‘Melo, Amar’e and MSG will be tonight, the Knicks will make a statement. And the Knicks are only two games ahead of Philly in the loss column, so this is actually a real big game at the Garden.
Hornets @ Grizzlies
They are tied at the bottom of the Western Conference playoff race. The Hornets are poor on the road, as they were just drilled by the Knicks, and the Griz are solid at home. Sounds like a game where CP3 needs to put the troops on his back and get it done. Should be playoff intensity tonight in Memphis.
Pacers @ Mavs
Rick Carlisle for Coach of the Year? It is starting to look that way as the Mavs have not let some injuries to key players let them fall too far in the standings. Tyson Chandler out now presents a new challenge, though they did steal Corey Brewer from the waiver wire. I would really love to know what the Knicks reasoning was behind keeping Renaldo Balkman and not keeping Brewer. Then again, the Knicks drafted Balkman over Rondo. Next!
Heat @ Spurs
Another Heat collapse, another press conference filled with empty statements, and more end of games half court situations that make Miami’s basketball IQ under pressure look like a bad college team. How in the world can you not get better looks than the ones they are settling for? The Spurs are tough at home, with or without Tony Parker. This would be a huge win for the Heat, but far from a huge loss for the Spurs.
Manu against D-Wade tonight should be a great matchup too.
Bobcats @ Lakers
As expected, the champs are getting it right at just the right time. Looking for their sixth straight W, the Lakers have struggled big time against Charlotte the last five seasons. Yes, five seasons. The Bobcats have had their number, winning 8-of-10. However, Gerald Wallace, who was part of the matchup issue, is now a Blazer. Look for Kobe to have his foot on the gas from the tip tonight as he knows the stretch run is here.
Enjoy the games tonight.
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