Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Atlanta Hawks (8pm ET Friday, ESPN)
The Cleveland Cavaliers have suffered through all sorts of drama this season, and this month it’s gone next-level. Rather than fretting about losing 4 of 9, or getting healthy for a title run, the Cavs are instead dealing with things like whom LeBron is following on Twitter, and the awful/tragic reports about Kyrie Irving’s lovelife. There have probably been teams that have risen above this kind of stuff to win it all, but none come to mind right away. Still, the Cavs have clinched the Central Division, and a just-comfortable-enough lead in the hunt for the top seed in the East.
The Atlanta Hawks led the Chicago Bulls Monday night by 9 after three quarters, let the lead slip away as the Bulls tied it at 93 with 99 seconds to play, before finally making 9 of 10 free throws down the stretch to ice the win. The Hawks’ Jeff Teague led all scorers with 26 points, to go along with 6 boards and 7 dimes, and hit both his free throws with 6 seconds to play to put the game out of reach.
Celtics vs. Warriors (10:30pm ET Friday, ESPN)
The Celtics fell to the Clippers Monday, 114-90, on a night when Boston outscored in every quarter. Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 24 points on 5-of-14 shooting –thank god he hit 12 of 13 from the line. But Thomas’s highlight of the night had to be a chase-down block from behind of what looked for all the world to be a Chris Paul breakaway layup. Boston is a distant second to the Raptors in the Atlantic Division, but finds themselves one of four teams within 2 games of each other fighting it out for the 3 through 6 seeds in the East.
The Golden State Warriors on Tuesday joined an elite company of NBA teams by going 60 games over .500, following a 102-94 win over the Washington Wizards. But don’t think the Warriors are satisfied, as Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green have all averaged 33+ minutes over the last 10 games–these guys are keeping the pedal down as they chase the ‘95-’96 Bulls’ record of 72 wins. The only one on Golden State getting any rest these days is Andre Iguodala, who continues to nurse a sprained ankle.