One week from today, the 2015 NBA playoffs will begin and there are still races in both conferences to be decided headed into Saturday's action. SBR has you covered with four game previews. Here's a glance at those with all times Eastern.
Raptors at Heat (-3.5, 196.5), 7:30 p.m.
Covered by: Dave
This will have live betting at sportsbooks as it's televised nationally on NBA TV. This is absolutely a must-win matchup for Miami as to have any chance of making the Eastern Conference playoffs -- which the Heat have done every year since 2009 -- as it has to win out and still get some help. The Heat are probably still kicking themselves over Thursday's 89-78 home loss to Chicago as they lead by 19 at the half only to see the Bulls scored 39 of the next 47 points. The Heat are totally banged up, with guys like Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside, Luol Deng, Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers playing through injuries. Wade was terrible against the Bulls, shooting just 4-for-20 for nine points with five turnovers. He was a team-worst minus-14 in plus/minus rating. Toronto won 101-99 in Orlando on Friday on a Lou Williams 3-pointer with 9.9 seconds left. All-Star guard Kyle Lowry was back after missing the previous seven games. These teams have split two meetings this season, each winning at home. The Heat have won 16 of the past 17 overall against Toronto but those were mostly with LeBron James. Where's Dave leaning? Check it out.
76ers at Bulls (-13.5, 192), 8 p.m.
Covered by: Scott
Chicago concluded a three-game road trip at 1-2 on Thursday with quite the comeback in Miami. The Heat lead by 19 at the half, but the Bulls rolled out to a 33-8 advantage in the third quarter on the way to an 89-78 win. In a minor surprise, Derrick Rose played in the second half of a back-to-back in his second game off knee surgery and had 12 points on 5-for-15 shooting in 20 minutes, which is likely to remain his minutes workload the rest of the regular season. Barring something unforeseen, Rose will play Saturday, but All-Star guard Jimmy Butler may not. He missed Thursday with a calf injury. It's not serious, but the Bulls may play it safe against such a bad 76ers team. Perhaps Butler won't be the only starter getting the night off. The Bulls still do have the motivation of grabbing the No. 3 seed in the East. Philadelphia has lost seven straight and already has ruled out excellent rookie big man Nerlens Noel of this game with an ankle injury. He might not play again this season. Scott says Bulls will win but cover?
Grizzlies at Clippers (-8, 196), 10 p.m.
Covered by: Dave
Clearly the game of the night and is also televised on NBA TV. This could be a first-round playoff matchup depending on how things shake out and the Grizzlies and Clippers simply don't like each other. The only team the Clippers probably dislike more is Golden State. Memphis currently leads the Southwest Division and holds the No. 2 seed by a half game over San Antonio. The Grizzlies caught a break on Friday in beating the Jazz when Utah's Gordon Hayward missed the potential tying free throw with .01 seconds left. He made the first two to bring the Jazz within one. The Grizzlies played without point guard Mike Conley and he's not likely to play in this one. L.A. brings a four-game winning streak into this, scoring at least 105 points in each. The Clippers got back top reserve guard Jamal Crawford, the former Sixth Man of the Year, in Tuesday's win over the Lakers. He hadn't played since March 2 due to a calf injury. Crawford had four points in 19 minutes against the Lakers. Memphis leads the season series 2-1 and had won three in a row at the Clippers dating to last season. Check out Dave's choice.
Timberwolves at Warriors (-19, 214), 10:30 p.m.
Covered by: Scott
If this game meant something to Golden State, the Warriors could probably win by 50 if they wanted. Minnesota is the worst team in the Western Conference, maybe the NBA (Knicks fans would beg to differ), and is missing a handful of starters/rotation guys due to injuries. Plus the Wolves are playing the second of a back-to-back, losing 106-98 on Friday at the Lakers for their ninth straight defeat. Golden State has clinched the NBA's best record this season and is a phenomenal 36-2 at home, having won 15 straight at Oracle Arena. However, could several key Warriors get this game off? Golden State was pushed to the limit in Thursday's 116-105 home win over Portland, in which Steph Curry had 45 points and broke his own NBA record for most 3-pointers made in a season. Keep an eye on updates for what Coach Steve Kerr might do here because the game really means nothing at all. Is it worth giving all those points? Scott answers that question.