BOSTON CELTICS AT CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
8 p.m. ET, TNT
The Cavaliers have two gears this season: One reserved for just doing enough to win until they get to the playoffs, and another for anyone who deigns to think they can take the next championship from them. They are 7-1 against teams who currently hold the top four seeds in both conferences (including a 128-122 win over Boston on Nov. 3):
The Cavaliers haven’t lost in a game LeBron James has played in since Dec. 2. And they have only lost three games to potential Eastern Conference playoff teams all season. This seems like one of those games where they decide to rear up, with the Celtics thinking themselves challengers to their throne and the game being on national TV. If Boston wants this one, it’s going to have to be at its very best.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER AT MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
8 p.m. ET, League Pass
The Memphis Grizzlies have a negative net rating, but their record is 20-14. In a lot of cases, you’d think the record is better than the team based on that, but this is the “Grit-n-Grind” hard-playing grizzly Grizzlies. If anyone plays as hard as the Grizzlies, it’s Russell Westbrook:
Erik Horne of The Oklahoman had this interesting tidbit: “With another triple-double in the next three days, Westbrook can pass Oscar Roberson for the most triple-doubles ever in a calendar year. Westbrook has 30 in 2016.”
The thing is, none of Westbrook’s 52 career triple-doubles have come against the Grizzlies. The closest he came was a 24-point, nine-rebound, nine-assist performance on Feb. 11, 2015.
In fact, it’s been more than two years since any triple-double against the Grizzlies. Michael Carter-Williams had one on Dec. 13, 2014.
For competitive, Westbrookian and historical reasons, this game is worth watching.
THE REST OF THE SLATE
MIAMI HEAT AT CHARLOTTE HORNETS
7 p.m. ET, League Pass
It wasn’t too long ago that Charlotte was the moribund lottery team and the Heat were the ones with postseason aspirations. My how things have changed. Miami has been more M.I.A. this year than MIA. There’s not much reason to watch this one.
PHILADELPHIA 76ERS AT UTAH JAZZ
9 p.m. ET, League Pass
From a team standpoint, there’s not much hope for this being competitive. Joel Embiid and Rudy Gobert are two of the better young centers in the league right now, and the two would be guarding one another for most of the night. But alas, Embiid is resting, so there won’t even be that allure.
TORONTO RAPTORS AT PHOENIX SUNS
9 p.m. ET, League Pass
An angry Raptors team coming off a loss against the Golden State Warriors pitted against the defenseless Suns? This game might be over in the first quarter.
DALLAS MAVERICKS AT LOS ANGELES LAKERS
10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
This is a nationally televised game, and for lack of anything else positive to say about it, it could be competitive. After a promising start, the Lakers have plummeted to reality. Since evening out their record at 10-10, the Lakers have won just two of their last 15. They’re down to the 28th ranked team in net rating. The Mavericks are “up” to 26th. In other words, this is going to be close, bad basketball.