The Look Ahead for February 29


Our nightly look ahead to the schedule with a couple of notes and story lines so you can plan out your NBA viewing.  All Times Eastern.

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okc_logo7:00  Oklahoma City Thunder @ Philadelphia 76′ers 76ers_logo

The Thunder get back to business after the break, and they’re facing a Philly team that made a little bit of statement last night… pounding the Golden State Warriors.  But Philly’s five-game slide prior to that win brought them back down to earth a bit.  So now the question of legitimacy is back.  Are the 76’ers a legitimate threat in the East, or are they just a product of what has been a weak Atlantic Division?  

If Philly can take care of the ball and force OKC to run a half court game, we might see one hell of a statement win tonight. 

Couple of notes:

  • Through the first 34 games of the season, Oklahoma City is off to its second best start in franchise history (the 1993-94 Sonics went 29-5).
  • Philly has not captured a division title since 2000-01, when the team advanced to the NBA Finals

bulls_logo9:00  Chicago Bulls @ San Antonio Spurs (ESPN) spurs_logo

The Bulls may have been looking past the Hornets last night to this game, which would help explain why New Orleans nearly beat them.  They’ll need full focus taking on the Spurs, who have quietly crept into the elite class of four teams to have winning percentages of .700 or better (the others are the usual suspects: Chicago, OKC and Miami).  

The Spurs have been doing this WITHOUT Manu Ginobili.  Tony Parker has been a menace, and his forcing himself into some MVP discussion.  San Antonio fans have been demanding respect.  The Spurs will either earn it tonight against the Chicago, or be put in their place in the rung below the elite teams.

Couple of notes:

  • San Antonio has only lost once at home (13-1) while Chicagoi is 14-6 on the road.
  • the Bulls are 4-6 in their last 10 games versus the Spurs

 10:30  Minnesota Timberwolves @ Los Angeles Lakers lakers_logo

Kobe Bryant is a game time decision as Minnesota completes the easiest possible back-to-back road swing a team can ever hope to have.  They’ll be back in the Staples Center after beating up on the Clippers last night to, their fans hope, do the same to the Lakers.  Kobe, meanwhile, needs to go through some full contact basketball drills before being officially cleared to return after the concussion suffered at the All Star game. 

Playing without Kobe would be a hell of a challenge for the Lakers… and one they’re probably not ready to handle right now. 

And that, folks, is why I get paid the big bucks to analyze the NBA.

Couple of notes:

  • The Lakers have won 16 straight against the Timberwolves
  • Minnesota has a winning record (8-7) on the road.  They went 5-36 on the road each of the past two season.

Other story lines for tonight

7:00  Orlando-Washington:  Orlando has won the last eight games against the Wizards with an average margin of victory of 17.2 points.

7:30  Golden State-Atlanta:  Each team has injury questions, with Joe Johnson and Stephen Curry both game time decisions for tonight.

7:30  Milwaukee-Boston:  Boston tries to build on a tough win over Cleveland to prove they’re not quite as done as everyone thinks they are.

7:30  Charlotte-Detroit:  I find no compelling reason to watch this game if you’re not a fan of either team.  Or even if you are.  Sorry.

7:30  Cleveland-New York:  The Knicks continue trying to jel around Jeremy Lin as Lin has to contend with a red hot Kyrie Irving.

8:00  Toronto-New Orleans:  The Hornets play at home for the first time in two weeks.

8:00  Dallas-Memphis:  Memphis is looking for its fifth straight home win.

9:00  Portland-Denver:  A half game separates Denver from the 8th seed Blazers

9:00  Houston-Utah:  Houston goes for its fifth straight win.

John’s Picks:
OKC, San Antonio, Minnesota, Orlando, Golden State, Boston, Detroit, New York, New Orleans, Dallas, Denver, Houston 

Last night:  7-2
Season:   59-41