This week is cause for celebration. The NBA regular season will end on Sunday May 16. The play-in tournament will commence shortly thereafter and then the official playoffs will begin.
I can only assume that this week will be littered with potential landmines in the NBA. Teams are absolutely going to sit players and others are going to go full tank mode. Others are fighting for seeding and playoff positioning and all sorts of other things. We’re also going to have a handful of teams that clinch a playoff spot this week. Sometimes that game right after a clinch is a tough one.
Lots to digest. Let’s see how it all plays out.
Here are the NBA schedule spots and tips for the week ending May 16:
Monday May 10
Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers – The Indiana Pacers and Cleveland Cavaliers lead us off here with Monday’s matchup in Cleveland. This is the last road game for the Pacers and it is a standalone road game with a back-to-back coming up on Tuesday against Philadelphia. Indiana plays Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and the Lakers to finish out the season, so those are some big name opponents. I do think that they absolutely have to have this game here. You’ll pay a little bit of a premium, but those three remaining games are all tough. This is the easy one. They better not take it for granted.
Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks – The Wizards are red hot and have been for quite some time now. The Hawks have picked it up a little bit, but they’ve been a little bit inconsistent down the stretch run. These two teams will play again on Wednesday in the same spot, which is an angle that we’ve seen a fair amount this year. React accordingly to what you see in the first one and also consider all of the ins and outs of this game. Keep in mind that Atlanta has three days off prior to this game.
Milwaukee Bucks at San Antonio Spurs – The Spurs are back at home after a four-game road trip for this one against the Bucks. The Spurs have had to play a backloaded schedule because of their COVID pause and the games that had to be rescheduled. They just completed a 5-in-7 and are starting up another one here. The Bucks have bigger things on the horizon, so we may not get a full roster in this spot, but if we do, the spot does favor them.
Tuesday May 11
Miami Heat at Boston Celtics – The Heat and Celtics meet again on Tuesday after having just played on Sunday. Same venue, same matchup. This looks to be another huge matchup between the two with that play-in game looming for the #7 seed. Obviously when a game matters to both teams, the situational spots aren’t nearly as consequential. Basically, I’m just saying that these two just played and now we’ll see what happens here.
Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers – The Pacers are in a back-to-back here to finish up a 5-in-7 set. The Sixers will have had two days off prior to this game. The spot obviously favors them in a big way, especially when you think about how careful they’ve been in tough rest spots with their key guys. This is a spot where we should see the full Sixers roster. They’re vying for a conference title and should play like it.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Sacramento Kings – The Thunder and Kings meet again on Tuesday for their second straight game against each other. These games during the last week of the season can be tough handicaps with two teams that aren’t going anywhere at all. Usually you’d want to look at overs in those games, as players are worried about padding their stats and defensive effort goes by the wayside.
New York Knicks at Los Angeles Lakers – We should see the Lakers rounding into form with everybody back and back in rhythm as the drive for the postseason reaches a crescendo. This is not a good spot for New York. It will be the end of a six-game road trip. Not much more needs to be said about the spot and situation in that regard.
Wednesday May 12
Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks – The Wizards and Hawks will run it back again on Wednesday. The Wizards are playing a fifth road game in eight days. The Hawks are enjoying that time at home. The spot again favors them, much like it did on Monday. See if they took advantage on Monday. See if there’s anything actionable. Go from there.
New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas Mavericks – Both teams are in tough spots here. The Pelicans are playing a 4-in-6 and the Mavericks are playing a 5-in-7. All four games for New Orleans will have been on the road. Dallas is in a back-to-back with travel after playing Memphis on Tuesday. Tired legs often lead to poor defense, so that may be something to watch for in this one.
Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers – This is a 4-in-6 on the road for the Rockets. It is a back-to-back for the Lakers. It will be interesting to see if the Lakers use LeBron and AD in a back-to-back setting here. The Knicks game on Tuesday doesn’t really mean more or less than this one, but it is a little bit more of a marquee matchup on Tuesday. I guess we’ll just have to follow the news cycle for this game.
Thursday May 13
Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat – The last road game of the regular season for the Sixers is here against the Heat. Philadelphia will go right back home to take on the Magic on Friday. It’s hard to see the Sixers caring too much in this spot. Some of their key players may just go home after Tuesday’s road game against Indiana. Some of them may not even go on the trip at all. Miami should get a watered down Sixers squad in the last regular season home game for them.
Tampa Raptors at Chicago Bulls – The Raptors have had a long, rough season by not being able to play at home. Will this brief two-game road trip bring them together for one last push or will they fade off into oblivion with no hope of making the playoffs? I’m thinking more of the latter. The Bulls aren’t going to be a playoff team either, but they’re more likely to show up here at home.
Portland Trail Blazers at Phoenix Suns – This is a back-to-back with travel for the Blazers against a Suns team that will likely be vying for the #1 seed. It’s a tough spot for a Portland team playing a fifth game in seven days, but the Blazers have played admirably during this stretch. The Suns head back on the road for two games at San Antonio to finish out the regular season. I think both teams will be invested here, but the spot is better for Phoenix with more rest.
Friday May 14
Tampa Raptors at Dallas Mavericks – Same story here. This is a hard week to handicap the NBA because motivation will be all over the map and a lot of players will probably sit out games. The Raptors are just playing out the string. The Mavericks may need to stay above the cut line for the play-in tournament. We’ll have to see, but no matter what, they’ll be motivated while the Raptors will not be.
Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers – We’ll have to watch the Sixers closely this week to see what they decide to do with their lineup. This is a back-to-back with travel, but as mentioned, I don’t think we see many star players on Thursday anyway. The Magic are in a road back-to-back with travel themselves and absolutely nothing to play for but pride. Advantage Sixers probably, but this will be an enormous line if they play a full lineup.
Los Angeles Clippers at Houston Rockets – The Clippers are in a B2B with travel here off of playing Charlotte on Thursday. They’re monitoring workloads very closely because they’ve had several players dinged up down the stretch. I’d expect them to err on the side of caution here, but the Rockets may not care much about the game anyway. That usually lends itself to an over as bench players try to get buckets to improve their stats a bit.
Saturday May 15
Boston Celtics at Minnesota Timberwolves – The Celtics have the Knicks on deck, so that may be a bigger game in their minds. Then again, this could be a big game depending on where things stand for the cut line with the play-in tournament. There are just so many factors that could change as the week goes along that this week’s article is tougher than any other one this season.
Los Angeles Lakers at Indiana Pacers – LeBron James has voiced his strong displeasure with the play-in tournament. We’ll see if he backs up his talk in this spot, which is the first game of a back-to-back. The Lakers have been very, very careful with him in his return. He hasn’t been asked to do a whole lot. Will he be asked to try and keep the Lakers out of the play-in tournament by participating in this game? That will have a big impact on the line to say the least.
Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs – Another case in which we’ll have to see what Phoenix has to play for, as they’ll play the Spurs again on Sunday. So much of this stuff is touch-and-go, especially for the end of the week.
Sunday May 16
All 30 NBA teams are in action on Sunday. It will be a very hard day to handicap. Teams that have to win will have inflated prices. Teams that don’t have to win are likely to sit key players.
I’d probably just stay away from the day altogether and focus on the playoffs, unless you have some really, really strong convictions.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the articles this season. Good luck in the playoffs!