One day left to go
The 82-game season has one day to go. Rather than dwell on Tuesday's highlights -- in fact, I can limit that to this: 8 steals for Jason Richardson, are you kidding me? -- I thought I'd run down today's schedule for you daily lineup warriors who still have league championships and/or major bragging rights on the line.
With the NBA postseason pairings mostly set, many playoff-bound teams can be expected to rest their key players. In particular, I'm thinking of LeBron James and his balky back. While I've not read anything about him being ruled out tonight, it's hard to imagine him suiting up when the Cavs host the Pistons.
One team that still has incentive to win is the Spurs, who can finish anywhere from third to sixth in the Western Conference. By beating the Jazz at home Wednesday, San Antonio earns home court for at least the first round of the playoffs. So Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker owners should be able to count on one more productive night from their guys.
The five teams that currently follow the Spurs in the West standings -- Utah, Houston, Phoenix, Dallas and Denver -- can change their playoff position tonight, but with every team in the West so tough, it remains to be seen how much gaining a spot will mean to them. Take Phoenix, for instance. The Suns could sneak up to fourth if they beat the Blazers at home and the Spurs lose. But that San Antonio-Utah game (8 p.m. ET start) could be decided by tipoff in Phoenix. So what ever incentive the Suns have this morning could vanish by 10 p.m. ET.
As for the rest of Wednesday's schedule, I leave you with three names to watch:
Ramon Sessions, PG, Bucks: In his sixth start at point guard for the Bucks, the rookie racked up a team-record 24 assists against Chicago on Monday. He's averaging 11.3 points and 13.0 assists as a starter, but be wary of Sessions if you're in a tight spot in field-goal percentage or turnovers (he's averaging 3.7 a night over his past six). That said, he has a chance to go out with another big game as he faces the Wolves, who allow opponents to shoot 47.2 percent from the field (27th in the league).
Maurice Evans, SG, Magic: Evans knocked down 4 3-pointers en route to a career-best 27 points against Atlanta on Tuesday. If given the minutes, the hot-shooting veteran could duplicate that effort Wednesday against Washington. The Wizards allow 8.3 3s per game, most in the in the league by far.
Kelenna Azubuike, SG, Warriors: Tonight's contest with the Sonics should be an interesting affair. For one thing, you have a drained Sonics team in Oakland, coming off an emotional win over the Mavs in what may have been their final game in Seattle. As uncomfortable a finish the Sonics are having, the Warriors may trump them. With his team still mathematically alive for a playoff spot, why did Don Nelson bench Baron Davis for the second half against the Suns? Given what happened the other night, it's hard to imagine we'll see Davis at all in this one. So expect plenty of Azubuike, who went for 17 points, 9 rebounds and 4 assists in that game.
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.