Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers (7pm ET Wednesday, ESPN)
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ starting five was on point Tuesday night, hitting 27 of 45 (60%) from the floor as the team rolled over the Bucks 109-80. J.R. Smith had a team-high of 21 from seven-of-12 shooting – all his hits from three-point land – for the Cavs and Kyrie Irving overcame a cranky ankle that had him listed as questionable to score 15 points with three rebounds and six assists as the Cavs jumped out to a 14-point lead in the first quarter before stretching it to 24 at the half and never letting the Bucks get close. Cleveland has now won four in a row and has LeBron saying things like, “We’re in a good place right now.” We’ll see. In the meantime, the Cavs are 56-22 and lead the Raptors in the race for the top seed in the East by 3.5 games with four to play.
The Pacers survived a late push by the Knicks Sunday to win 92-87 in a game they had led by as much as 18. The Knicks fought their way back, despite the absence of Kristaps Porzingis, who was nursing a bum shoulder, and Carmelo Anthony, who needed a rest – given that his season ends on the 12th, it’s unclear what exactly he’s resting up for. Anyway, the win brought Indiana’s record to 41-36 and, coupled with a Pistons loss Tuesday, they’re currently in sole possession of seventh place in the East with Chicago and Washington still within striking distance.
Houston Rockets vs. Dallas Mavericks (9:30pm ET Wednesday, ESPN)
Dallas beat the ‘Wolves Sunday 88-78, despite hitting on just 39% of their field goal attempts. Justin Anderson was their star of the game with just nine points and 10 rebounds. The Mavs were able to win thanks to some brutal three-point shooting by Minnesota, who hit just four of 21 from downtown, along with winning the turnover war 16-10. The win lifted the Mavericks above .500 for the first time since March 14, and at 39-38 they find themselves in seventh place in the West – just a half-game ahead of Utah.
Lurking just a game back of the Mavs is the Rockets at 38-39 following a 118-110 victory of the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday. James Harden was, again, the Rockets’ leading scorer, dropping 41 points as he hit five of 11 threes and 12 of 14 free throws as the Thunder killed themselves with 19 turnovers. Harden is chasing history down the stretch as he is in position to lead the league in minutes, field goal attempts, free throws, free throw attempts, and turnovers for the second consecutive year. It’s never been done before!