With this being the first no-football weekend since August, that means it’s time for the NBA to slowly start taking over Sundays, a trend that will hit full steam after the Super Bowl. ABC is striking quickly this week with Chicago-Miami (3:30 PM ET, ABC) set to highlight the Sunday card. Through an unpredictable year, the Bulls and Heat have met expectations and hold the top two spots in the East, with Miami looking to close to within a game on their home floor.
Following that game, flip the channel over to ESPN to watch San Antonio-Dallas at 6:30 PM ET. Both teams are 12-8 and packed in the middle of the Western Conference’s top eight. In this competitive conference, if you drop down to 11-8, you end up tied for the last playoff spot (see Lakers/Rockets) and 10-8 leaves you on the wrong side of the line (sorry Grizzlies). Remember, in a 66-game schedule, we’re almost a third of the way through, so while it’s early, it’s not too early to be looking at this stuff.
Other interesting games Sunday include Cleveland-Boston. The Celtics have won four in a row, including twice over Orlando and last night over Indiana, while the Cavs are actually in the playoffs as of today, in the 8-spot. Out west the LA Clippers visit Denver, two teams off to strong starts and leading their divisions.
Today’s card is a little quiet, but New York-Houston is a game between two teams just on the outside of the playoff picture. They’re there for two different reasons through. The Rockets rebuilding project under Kevin McHale is going well in a tough conference and they’ve played their way into contention. The Knicks are flailing in a weak conference and trail big-market powers like Milwaukee and Cleveland. Tonight’s NBA-TV fare is Sacramento-Utah (9 PM ET). The Jazz have been another nice surprise and currently slot #7 in the Western Conference playoff standings. They aren’t going to stay ahead of the Lakers all year, and I would imagine the Grizzlies are going to come strong too, but Utah joins Houston is a team it would be nice to see stay in the hunt all the way to April.