It’s a light Saturday night in the NBA with only a single marquee matchup featuring crucial playoff implications. Here’s a look at what’s on tap:
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS at MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES (8 p.m. ET, NBA TV): These two teams clashed in an epic seven-game, first-round series last season. The Clippers won it, taking two at Memphis, including that massive comeback in Game 1. These clubs are a mismatch made in heaven. The Clippers are a bunch of high-flyers and freakish athletes that know how to throw it down. The Grizzlies are burly and far more earth-bound and would rather kill you slowly with defense. These clubs are locked in a raging battle with the Denver Nuggets for the Nos. 3-5 seeds, critical positioning that will determine not only matchups, but homecourt advantage.
The Clips and Grizz are both coming off wins Friday night. Memphis had a short flight home after an 82-78 win at Houston while L.A. made the quick hop over from New Orleans after scratching out a tough one. Memphis is tied in the standings with No. 3 Denver at 54-25, but remains in the No. 5 slot because the Nuggets hold the tiebreaker and the Clippers, one game back at 53-26, get the No. 4 slot by virtue of being the Pacific Division champs. Still, homecourt advantage in the 4-5 series will be decided by best record. As for the season series, the Clippers hold a 2-1 edge on the Grizzlies, and both teams are 32-17 in the Western Conference, the next deciding factor for the tiebreaker if Memphis ties up the series tonight.
CELTICS (at Orlando, 7 p.m. ET, League Pass): The Celtics are one of two teams among those headed to the Eastern Conference playoffs with a negative point-differential. The eighth-seeded Bucks are the other. Boston will finish with the No. 7 seed and a date with the New York Knicks in the first round. These final games are nothing more than tune-ups for the Celtics, who are re-integrating Kevin Garnett.
BUCKS (at Charlotte, 7 p.m. ET, League Pass): Milwaukee begins its final three games and they might want to get serious about these ones if they harbor any hope to even be somewhat competitive against Miami in the first round. Of course, the Bucks weren’t even that last week when Miami beat Milwaukee with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh sitting it out. The Bucks have lost three in a row and are 3-7 in their last 10, hardly the push J.J. Redick figured his new team would be making.