With the NBA Playoffs right around the corner, you’re likely already aware of the top contenders.
In the West, while the Warriors (as usual) find themselves in the driver’s seat, they have a young and hungry Nuggets team hot on their heels. Meanwhile in the East, the first-to-50-wins Bucks and the Raptors have distanced themselves from the pack.
If you need a break from filling out your bracket for that other basketball tournament getting ready to start, now’s the perfect time to heat up some nachos, kick back on the couch and see how the rest of the playoff field comes together with a free preview of NBA League Pass from March 13-15.
Here’s the top games to check out during the preview:
Pistons at Heat | Wednesday, March 13th | 7:30pm ET
Blake Griffin and the Pistons currently hold the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference field, and a three-game lead over Dwyane Wade and the Heat, who find themselves holding off the Magic, Hornets and Wizards, circling in the waters just outside playoff contention. If nothing else, this game would be fun to watch just for the chance to catch the Heat’s oh-so-awesome Miami Vice-inspired third jerseys, but there’s bigger things at stake here.
Griffin and fellow Detroit big Andre Drummond will have to step their games up in this tricky road test against a suddenly resurgent Miami squad that’s won four of their last five heading in to this matchup. The Pistons haven’t been slouches recently either, winning five in a row prior to a sloppy loss to the Brooklyn Nets in their last game.
Thunder at Pacers | Thursday, March 14th | 7pm ET
We’ll have to wait and see if the league takes any action against triple-double machine Russell Westbrook, who got into it with a fan in the Thunder’s last game against the Jazz, a 98-89 win. If there is discipline handed down, the Thunder could be without their best player against a Pacers squad known for its’ defense.
Even with Westbrook, OKC may have a tough time finding scoring opportunities, as Indiana allows a stingy 104 points per game, second-fewest in the league.
On the other side of the ball, while Indiana lacks the scoring punch of a Westbrook or Thunder teammate Paul George, they have a variety of ways to beat you, with seven players averaging double-figures in points for the season (eight if you round up reserve guard Tyreke Evans’ 9.9 per game). They’d better make their shots count though, as the Thunder are the second-best rebounding team in the league. Second chances will be hard to come by.
Kings at Celtics | Thursday, March 14th | 7:30pm ET
While the Kings may still be on the outside looking in as far as the playoff picture goes, things are certainly looking up. Currently sitting at a respectable 33-33, they’ve already eclipsed their win total from a year ago, and still have 16 games left to play.
Sacramento is currently four games behind 8th seed Utah, so while the chances for a trip to the postseason are slim, stranger things have happened. Standing in their way though, is a brutal road back-to-back against the Celtics and the 76ers.
Meanwhile, Boston comes in to this matchup with a firm grasp on the 5th seed in the East, with 6th seed Brooklyn barely still in shouting distance. They may be without young gun Jayson Tatum for the game, however, as he missed the Celtic’s previous game against the Clippers with a shoulder injury.