Detroit Pistons vs. Miami Heat (8pm ET Tuesday, TNT)
The Pistons have gotten hot when it matters, winning seven of their last nine games and building a two-game lead over the Bulls in the race for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. On Saturday, the Pistons went a long way toward finishing off the Bulls, beating them 94-90 on a night when each of their starting five reached double digits. The Pistons' balanced attack was just enough to overcome a triple-double from Jimmy Butler, who went 25-15-12 with three steals, leading the Bulls in all four categories. With five games left on the schedule, the Pistons are tied with the Pacers for the final two playoff spots in the East, with the Bulls two games back and the Wizards four.
The Heat continues to find themselves in a four-way fight with the Hawks, Celtics and Hornets for the third, fourth, fifth and sixth seeds in the East. While all four teams are within a half-game of each other and have clinched playoff berths, the top two finishers will get to open the postseason with homefield advantage, while the bottom two will hit the road. The Heat’s chances took a big hit Saturday when they fell to the Portland Trail Blazers 110-93 as they had to go without Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade for the second consecutive game. Bosh has been out since February recovering from blood clots with no set return date, while Wade has missed two games with a stiff neck and remains questionable for tonight. Even if they manage homefield advantage, they’re gonna have a tough time without their top two players.
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Golden State Warriors (10:30pm ET Tuesday, TNT)
The Timberwolves were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention some time ago, but despite the team’s promising 8-8 start to the season, no sane person expected these guys to contend. What Minnesota was hoping for was improvement from reigning Rookie of the Year Andre Wiggins, and signs that Karl-Anthony Towns was legit. Well, Wiggins has progressed nicely into a 20-ppg two-guard, who needs to work on his three-point shot), and Towns is this year’s presumptive RoY. Add the continued progress from two-time NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion Zach LaVine and the fact the ‘Wolves boast three of the best 20-year-olds in the league. In about two years these guys should be ready to do some real damage, but in the meantime, just watch ‘em run.
The Warriors’ road to 73 wins got a lot rockier on Friday with a loss to the Boston Celtics, but Golden State got back on track Sunday against Portland, winning 136-111. Portland’s Damian Lillard and Golden State’s Steph Curry threw haymakers all night long, ending up with 38 and 39 points respectively while Draymond Green posted another triple-double with 22 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. The Warriors need to win two more games to clinch homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs and they must win four of their last five games to break the mark for most wins in a season – it won’t be easy as they have two games against the Grizzlies and two against the Spurs.