OKC Thunder poised to capture home court: week 21 scoreboard watch

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder drives around Dante Exum #11 of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander #2 of the OKC Thunder drives around Dante Exum #11 of the Utah Jazz (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Chris Paul #3 of the OKC Thunder embraces Dennis Schroder #17 after the victory over the Boston Celtics (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /

Scoreboard watching – week 21:

As the teams in this tier enter week 21 shifts occurred on the final games of the week 20. As noted, both the Rockets and Mavericks lost on Sunday resulting in multiple benefits for OKC.

By virtue of the Mavericks’ loss, the Thunder gained ground on Dallas now with a 1.5 pad. With the Rockets loss OKC moved ahead of them into fifth also with a half game edge. As noted in the Wednesday games below the Thunder are closer than ever to capturing a home court seed.

Here’s the week at a glance with each of the teams in this tier noted:

Monday, March 9th:

Nuggets host the Bucks but get a huge advantage as the Bucks played (and lost) on Sunday and won’t have Giannis Antetokounmpo in the lineup.

Jazz host Raptors who also played on Sunday. The big news here is if the Raptors can beat Utah then when they play OKC on Wednesday a win by the Thunder would find them IN FOURTH PLACE! Of note, Toronto is 6-3 in second games of back-to-back sets and 22-9 on the road so this isn’t an automatic win for the Jazz.

Tuesday, March 10th:

Rockets host Wolves, but even if Houston wins they’ll only move up a half game and since the Thunder won the season series they couldn’t move ahead of OKC.

Mavericks are on the road in San Antonio facing a Spurs squad who are in must win scenarios from here to end of the season given they’ve fallen five games back of the Grizzlies.

Clippers are on the road in Golden State which typically would offer an easy victory for LA, but with Stephen Curry back the Dubs are playing much improved.

Wednesday, March 11th:

Thunder host Jazz in what is the biggest game of the week for OKC especially (as noted above) if Toronto can beat them on Monday. If the Jazz wins Monday they’ll arrive with a two-game edge and the Thunder can trim it to one with a victory. It’s not a must-win but it sure would put OKC in a great spot. Expect Chris Paul to be laser-focused on leading his club to victory and a match featuring playoff intensity.

Mavericks host Nuggets: this game offers two teams within the six and the best scenario would be Denver winning because it would put additional space between the Thunder and Mavericks.

Thursday, March 12th:

Rockets are in LA to play the Lakers in another game where another team can help the Thunder. If the Lakers beat the suddenly reeling Rockets it would put distance between Houston and OKC. Notably, the Rockets won the first small ball matchup versus the Lakers who’ll no doubt be looking for revenge.

Friday, March 13th:

OKC Thunder host the Wolves and although Minnesota has registered big wins in the past this is a defensively challenged team. If the Thunder plays to their principles it should be an easy win.

Nuggets at Spurs – again San Antonio are in must-win mode but face a tough challenge beating Denver even if they are playing at the AT&T Center.

Jazz host Pelicans – like the Spurs the Pelicans are in tough having fallen four games back of the Grizzlies. Thunder fans should be cheering for Zion and company in this match as the more games Utah loses the better chance the Thunder have to grab a home court seed.

Clippers host Nets – with a new coach at the helm the Nets are battling the Magic for the seventh and eighth seeds. Notably, depending on how the Clippers and Nuggets perform this week they might join the Lakers as teams not required in this weekly glance. They currently hold four and three-game edges respectively over the Thunder — so we’ll re-evaluate at week’s end.

Saturday, March 14th:

Mavericks host Suns – Phoenix is enjoying playing spoiler having posted wins against the Jazz, Rockets and Blazers in recent weeks so by no means is this game a gimme for the Mavs.

Jazz host Grizzlies – Memphis continues to defy those who put their money on the chase pack instead of the Grizz and they’ve stepped up building their lead to a minimum of four games over the closest competitors. Again, Thunder Nation should be cheering for the Cinderella squad who can help the Thunder.

Clippers host Pelicans: that’s two games the Pelicans play against teams in this tier this week. Although they were cited for having the easiest schedule in the chase pack, games against the Jazz and Clippers will make for a tough road to catching the Grizzlies.

Sunday, March 15th:

Thunder finish their week in Washington playing a Wizards squad who begins the week 5.5 games back of the eighth-seeded Magic. The Wiz play at the Heat, at the Knicks, and versus the Celtics prior to facing the Thunder. And, while they might not be technically ruled out by Sunday if they lose more ground on Orlando they’ll be less invested in winning.

Rockets at Blazers – By the time this game happens the Blazers could be theoretically out of the playoff mix if not logistically.

Nuggets at Lakers – This game takes on a different edge depending on what happens in other games this week. As noted above with Giannis Antetokounmpo out nursing the knee the Lakers could find themselves closing the gap for best record and this game could have bigger implications by the time it tips off. The big question is whether Giannis’ knee injury becomes a very big factor in the stretch run.