Chicago Bulls vs. Miami Heat (8pm ET Thursday, TNT)
The Bulls find themselves in a 3-6 slide at the most inopportune time, the latest indignity being a 108-92 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. Chicago’s big guns, Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, had little to offer, combining to make just seven of 23 shots for 17 points and seven of the team’s 20 turnovers. The loss dropped the Bulls to 39-39 as they find themselves trailing the Detroit Pistons by 2.5 games in the hunt for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.
The Heat got a huge win Tuesday, defeating the Pistons 107-89 as they continue to fight on without Chris Bosh. Goran Dragic made nine of 15, including four-of-four from downtown for 22 points to go along with five rebounds and eight assists while Hassan Whiteside came off the bench to kick in 14 points and 12 rebounds. At 45-32, the Heat are in fifth place in the East with five games to play, just a half-game behind Atlanta and Boston, who are tied for third, and just a half-game ahead of the Hornets – that’s four teams within a game of each other with the top two hosting the bottom two in the first round of the playoffs; they’ve got just a week to untangle this mess.
San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors (10:30pm ET Thursday, TNT)
This is the first of two matchups over four days between the two best teams in basketball with the San Antonio Spurs riding a four-game win streak while the Warriors come in with a bit of a limp, having lost two of their last three. On Tuesday, the Spurs barely survived a late push from the Jazz to win 88-86. San Antonio had led by 16 early in the fourth quarter, but 91 seconds later, the lead was down to eight and the Jazz kept coming, eventually tying it up with 28 seconds to play before the Spurs arose from their slumber long enough for Kawhi Leonard to score the final bucket of the night and secure the W.
That same night, the Warriors fell in overtime to the Timberwolves 124-117. Up by eight after three quarters, the Warriors did themselves in with four turnovers and a couple of shooting fouls early in the fourth, allowing the ‘Wolves to fight back to a tie with 6:39 on the clock. Golden State quickly rebuilt a six-point lead, but Minnesota outscored them 8-2 over the final four minutes of regulation to again tie the score. In OT the ‘Wolves made four-of-five from the floor and 10 of 13 from the line for the win. Minnesota’s Shabazz Muhammad came off the bench to score 35, reigning Rookie of The Year Andrew Wiggins scored 32, and presumptive RoY Karl-Anthony Towns scored 20 points with 12 rebounds. It all proved too much for the Warriors on a night when Steph Curry shot a grisly seven of 25, including two of seven in OT. With just four games to play, the Warriors could wrap up the number one seed in the West with a win tonight, but must to run the table to break the ‘95-’96 Bulls record of 72 wins, a particularly tall order given they have two games against San Antonio and two against Memphis.