TV: League Pass
- Warriors coach Mark Jackson said All-Star guard Stephen Curry will see some limited time as he nurses a strained right quad. “It won’t be 48, it won’t be 40. Other than that, read how he’s feeling,” Jackson said.
- Mavs forward Jae Crowder had an MRI on an abdominal strain he suffered in Sunday’s win over Indiana and Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said, “It’s not serious, that’s as much as I know. I don’t have any other details.” Crowder did not travel with the team on this current three-game road trip. It’s possible he may rejoin the team at some point before the trip wraps up Sunday at Oklahoma City.
- The Warriors hold a two-game lead over the Mavericks for the No. 6 seed in the Western Conference. Both teams have 18 games left, including a Warriors visit to Dallas on April 1. “Every game is super meaningful. We’re looking at it as to move up. (We’re) trying to reach higher. It’s challenging. Competition is great. This is what it’s all about.”
- After losing a season-high three games in a row, the Mavs have reeled off back-to-back victories over Portland and playoff-bound Indiana, respectively. This marks the first of a three-game road trip for the Mavs, who play the second end of a back-to-back Wednesday at Utah before wrapping it up at Oklahoma City.
- The Warriors-Mavs season-series is tied at 1 and the final meeting between the two will be April 1 in Dallas.
- A pair of former Warriors return to Oracle Arena in fan favorite Monta Ellis and Brandan Wright. Ellis scored 20 points in the Mavs 95-93 loss Dec. 11 at Oracle that saw the Warriors battle back from an 18-point deficit. Ellis played six and one-half seasons with the Warriors and averaged 19.6 points a game. Wright played two and one-half seasons and averaged 5.7 points and 3 rebounds a game.
– Steve R. Waterhouse
TV: League Pass
- The Trail Blazers have suffered a couple of tough losses in the first two games of their five-game road trip, losing at Dallas and Houston. As if that’s not enough incentive to come on stronger tonight, consider this: In their last meeting with the Grizzlies in Portland Jan. 28, the Grizzlies handed the Blazers one of their worst defeats of the season, 98-81. The Grizzlies held Portland to its lowest scoring output of the season. Coach Terry Stotts would love to see him team repay the favor tonight at FedExForum. “We certainly remember the loss up there,” Stotts said. “It was arguably our worst defeat in a game we were never in. We didn’t play very well and they played very well. I think there are a lot of factors going into this game.”
- Portland has definitely noticed opponents who are positioning themselves for the playoffs, such as Houston and Dallas, have turned up the intensity. Tonight, they face a Memphis team that has just climbed into the eight spot in the Western Conference playoff chase. And tomorrow night, it’s off to San Antonio to play a Spurs team that has jumped into the No. 1 spot. “There’s more intensity to the games,” Stotts said. “Every time your playing and two teams are battling for playoff spots, I think that raises the level of intensity.”
- Tonight starts a stretch of four games in five night’s for the Grizzlies, who are currently in a playoff race with Phoenix for the final spot. The Grizzlies play at New Orleans Wednesday against a Pelicans team they are 0-3 against this season. Then they play at Toronto Friday and Philadelphia Saturday. “We just try to look at it one week at a time,” Grizzlies’ coach Dave Joerger said. “The only one in front of us matters and then we’ll deal with it after that. This week, I don’t even know if guys know where we’re flying. We’re going to get on a plane and go some place.”
– By Marlon W. Morgan
TV: NBA TV
- Neither Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook nor Rockets point guard Pat Beverley played in the previous two games involving these teams this season, so tonight will be the first time the two have been on the court together since Beverley crashed into Westbrook during last season’s playoffs. That incident resulted in a wrecked right knee for Westbrook and three surgical procedures. Asked at shootaround today if he had any hard feelings against Beverley, Westbrook said simply, “naw,” and then declined to answer any more questions about the Rockets guard. It should be fascinating to see what happens between those two tonight.
- Thunder head coach Scott Brooks said before the game he hasn’t “mentioned it to him (Westbrook) or the team,” about keeping emotions under control when it comes to Beverley.
- The Thunder’s two best defenders — Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins – went through some shooting drills on the practice court today. Both are expected to be out the rest of the month with injuries. Perry Jones III and Steven Adams will continue starting in their places.
- Houston is healthy tonight and will have all five normal starters on the floor, “It’s nice to have people available,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said before the game. “You’re always a better team when you have everybody.”
- The Rockets are 0-2 against OKC this season. They were blown out in Oklahoma City in late December and scored 73 points on OKC in the first half a few days later in Houston only to be limited to 19 points in the second half leading to another loss. The Rockets are rolling now though with 15 wins in their last 17 games and in 23 of their 29 games in 2014. They’ve not lost a game since the calendar turned when they’ve scored at least 100 points. In contrast the Thunder have averaged 113.3 points in their last four losses, all coming since the All-Star break.
- Oklahoma City is just 3-5 since the break and giving up 110.2 points on almost 48 percent shooting in those games.
– Randy Renner
TV: League Pass
- As late-season midweek NBA games between teams from different conferences go, this is a good one. The Bulls are 11-3 in their last 14 games, and are one responsible for one of San Antonio’s eight home losses after a 96-86 decision on Jan. 29 at the AT&T Center. But the Spurs, who have won six in a row and nine of their last 10, did not have Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green or Tiago Splitter for that previous meeting against the Bulls. If the Bulls win, they would be the first Eastern Conference team to sweep the Spurs this season.
- San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich is on the suddenly crowded Joakim Noah bandwagon, saying the Bulls’ center should be in the Most Valuable Player conversation. “They won’t choose him for MVP, but I think it’s great that he is in the conversation,’’ Popovich said. “It’s got to go in the basket for you guys (the media) to pay attention to somebody, but he’s pretty valuable, in my opinion.” Averaging 4.8 assists per game, Noah is looking to become the first center to lead his team in total assists since David Robinson did it for the Spurs more than two decades ago.
- The Bulls are coming off a high-profile win over Miami on Sunday, then after hosting the league’s best record in San Antonio they host Houston on Thursday. They play Oklahoma City next Monday. The rough stretch means nothing to Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, who changes the words but consistently preaches the message that the only way to be successful is to take games one at a time. “You get in trouble when you look at a grouping of games,’’ he said. “All the games count the same. You don’t get extra points for beating a team that is perceived as an elite team.”
- Popovich was watching the Heat-Bulls game when it was revealed that Thibodeau has coached more games without Derrick Rose than with him available and that “threw me back in my chair.” “He is a competitor to the highest degree,’’ Popovich said of Thibodeau.
– Kent McDill
TV: League Pass
- Milwaukee center, Ersan Ilyasova will miss tonight’s game with a sore ankle. John Henson will start in his place.
- Minnesota has won the last three games against Milwaukee and 11 of the last 13 at Target Center. They currently sit in the 10th spot in the Western Conference, 4.5 games behind Phoenix and 5.0 behind Memphis. After stirring hope among the Minnesota faithful with a 6-1 stretch in February and early March, Minnesota has dropped two of their last three to open a crucial four-game homestand.
- Despite their 105-98 home victory against Orlando last night, the numbers suggest that Milwaukee has an uphill battle in tonight’s game. They have the worst record in the NBA at 13-50, they have not won back-to-back games all season, they have lost 12 of their last 13 raod games, and they are 2-22 against the Western Conference. And Minnesota is 9-3 and averaging 109.7 points per game against teams from the Eastern Conference.
- Milwaukee is averaging 12.2 more points per game after the All-Star break (104.5) than they did before (92.3). Milwaukee coach, Larry Drew, attributes that improvement, at least partially to the acquisition of Jeff Adrien and Ramon Sessions: “They fill some holes that we have and they guys have seemed to get into a pretty good rhythm with these two guys. Jeff is a guy that just does dirty work. He’s a rebounder and he plays with a physical presence. … Ramon is a heady veteran guy who makes plays. He can get to the basket and he plays the right way.”
- Minnesota back-up guard, A. J. Price underwent an appendectomy on Sunday and will be sidelined indefinitely.
– Jim Beilby
TV: League Pass
- The center matchup between Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, who has scored at least 20 points in his last five games, and Detroit’s Andre Drummond, who leads the NBA in offensive rebounding, will go a long way in determining the winner between two struggling teams. “A lot of teams missed the boat on Andre Drummond, for him to get taken where he was taken (No. 9 in 2012),” Sacramento coach Michael Malone said. “DeMarcus has an edge on him in terms of strength but Andre has an edge with his quickness, athleticism and explosiveness.”
- The Kings have turned the ball over at least 17 times in four of their last five games. Malone feels some of his players are more concerned with scoring than playing unselfishly. “That happens a lot this time of the year for a team not in the playoff race,” he said. “All of a sudden, guys are playing for themselves instead of each other.”
- Except for two players out for the season (Carl Landry and Jason Terry), the Kings have everyone available.
- Detroit has allowed at least 110 points in six of its last 10 games, though interim coach John Loyer has focused on the defense in shootarounds and practices. “In 60 or 70 percent of your practice, you work on closeouts, you work on your stance on the ball, you work on your weakside help,” he said. “Every day that you get a real practice in, where you get up and down, you work on your transition defense. If you don’t guard consistently on any given night, you’re going to be in trouble and we haven’t guarded the way we’re capable of.”
- Guards Chauncey Billups (knee) and Peyton Siva (ankle) and center Josh Harrellson (knee) are out for the Pistons.
– Dana Gauruder
TV: League Pass
- Riding their first four-game losing streak in two years, the Pacers will unveil Andrew Bynum tonight. The 7-foot center signed on Feb. 1 after being released by Chicago and last played in a game for Cleveland on Dec. 26. Indiana coach Frank Vogel said he expects to use Bynum 10-15 minutes off the bench. Regular backup center Ian Mahinmi is out with bruised ribs.
- Vogel said he wants to see Bynum “fit in and play his game, play to his strengths. We’ll try to play through him in the low-post some and do what he can do. He’s pretty up to speed with our defensive schemes and our offensive schemes. It’s just going to be a matter of getting used to playing in a game environment again.”
- The Pacers also will be without backup point guard C.J. Watson, who’ll miss his fourth consecutive game with a sprained right elbow. Boston will be without Avery Bradley (right ankle), Gerald Wallace (left knee, left ankle) and Vitor Faverani (left knee).
- With two consecutive wins and three in five games, the Celtics are on the uptick. “Obviously the task is tall with the Pacers, and it got taller from what I’ve heard with Bynum,” coach Brad Stevens said. “But they’re obviously a great team and it’s a great measuring stick for us right now.”
- Indiana will start its usual lineup of George Hill, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, David West and Roy Hibbert. Mahinmi and Watson are in active.
- Boston counters with Rajon Rondo, Jerryd Bayless, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries. Faverani, Wallace and Keith Bogans are inactive and Bradley is not with the team.
– Conrad Brunner
TV: NBA TV
- Eric Bledsoe is close to returning for the Suns, but the speedy point guard won’t play tonight when they travel to L.A. to take on the red-hot Clippers. Bledsoe hasn’t played since a Dec. 30 game against the Clippers at Staples Center, when he began feeling discomfort in his right knee and underwent surgery to repair damaged cartilage about a week later. Bledsoe was drafted by the Clippers 18th overall in 2010 and played his first three NBA seasons in L.A. before he was traded to Phoenix in a three-way deal that brought J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley to the Clippers. Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said he expects Bledsoe to make his return Wednesday against visiting Cleveland. Suns center Miles Plumlee, who missed last week’s loss to the Clippers and a victory two nights later against the visiting Thunder (right knee sprain), is set to return to the starting lineup tonight after coming off the bench in Sunday’s loss at Golden State.
- Dudley and Redick won’t play tonight either, and the Clippers will also be without second-leading scorer Jamal Crawford, who attempted to come back from a left calf strain Saturday night against the visiting Hawks but felt discomfort in the muscle and his status is now day-to-day. Dudley, who spent the last four seasons with the Suns, will miss his third straight game with back spasms and Redick his 13th straight game with a bulging disc in his lower back. Both were opening-night starters for L.A. Redick has yet to face the Suns this season, missing the Dec. 30 game while recovering from thumb and hand injuries. Even without those three, the Clippers have continued to win. They come in riding a season-long seven-game winning streak, having reached triple digits in points in all seven.