Jayson Tatum, Shake Milton
Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum, right, in action against Philadelphia 76ers' Shake Milton, left, during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, in Philadelphia. The Celtics won 135-87. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)


Mike Shara

It’s a short four-day week in the association, as the players have a chance to regroup and recuperate for a few days after the All-Star Weekend, which culminated with Team Lebron winning their fifth consecutive All-Star Game Sunday night in Cleveland.  Most of the players (the non-ASG participants anyway) will have had about a week off to recharge, meaning there should be some renewed vigor on the court once the teams return to action. The break in the NBA season actually occurs about ⅔ of the way through, so almost every team is looking at just 20-25 games left to make their playoff run, which should maximize the pressure, excitement and desperation factor in the next few weeks.


Despite the first three days of the week being empty, there are still some great games to watch this week/weekend. Will Ben Simmons make his Nets debut Thursday night as Brooklyn hosts a Boston team that was red-hot before the break began? Head Coach Steve Nash and company will still be without Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving so the pressure will undoubtedly keep mounting for Simmons to suit up and help Brooklyn save their season and salvage their grand experiment.

The ESPN games on Friday feature the Battle of L.A. (meh) and Miami traveling to MSG to face the Knicks, which could prove more interesting. The Heat are a serious contender to come out of the East and, finally (relatively) healthy could go on a run to close the season and claim the #1 seed in the conference. Things don’t get easier for Brooklyn as they travel to Milwaukee Saturday night, but at least they know they will have Kyrie Irving in that game.

Sunday afternoon has a couple of early back-to-back games on ABC that could have serious playoff consequences. Leading off, the Knicks – currently the 12th seed in the East – face another tough matchup as they host MVP candidate Joel Embiid and Philadelphia.  Then Phoenix – who at 48-10 are the best team in the NBA so far this year – host the Jazz as they begin a six week stretch without All-Star point guard Chris Paul, who injured his thumb just before the break. It will be a fascinating stretch run for the Suns, who will have to find innovative new ways to move the offense without CP3 as they attempt to hold on to the top seed in the West, and then will be forced to re-integrate him into the lineup just around the time the playoffs begin. Not the situation Head Coach Monty Williams was hoping for going down the stretch, but it will make for interesting viewing – and betting – for those who follow the ups and downs of the league faithfully.

Later that day we get a rare ESPN Sunday night doubleheader which features a fantastic matchup between the Warriors and Mavericks from San Francisco and then has a bit of an anticlimactic finish to the week with New Orleans facing the Lakers (now without Anthony Davis for at least a month) in L.A. 

The only games listed below are those that are nationally broadcast. Of course your local sports network will be showing your local teams, so check your listings to see what nights they’ll return to action for the postseason push. 

Boston @ Brooklyn  7:30 pm  TNT
Golden State @ Portland  10 pm  TNT

Miami @ New York  7:30 pm  ESPN
LA Clippers @ LA Lakers  10pm  ESPN

Brooklyn @ Milwaukee  8:30 pm  ABC

Philadelphia @ New York  1pm  ABC
Utah @ Phoenix  3:30 pm  ABC
Dallas @ Golden State  7:30 pm  ESPN
New Orleans @ LALakers  10pm  ESPN

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