Watchability Rankings: 5 best NBA games for the week ending in Feb. 27
SI.com's Watchability Rankings will give you the lowdown on the must-see games for the week ahead. With All-Star Weekend officially behind us, we welcome the return of regular-season basketball with an impressive slate.
We had our fun with all that the NBA All-Star break had to offer—369 combined points in the All-Star Game, an unforgettable dunk contest that will be archived with Vines, and NBA trade rumors to boot—but now it's back to business. The regular season resumed on Thursday but the first full week of action for the second half of the season begins on Sunday. Here are the five best games to watch during the week.
Sunday, February 21: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland edged Oklahoma City 104–100 in their first meeting this season at home in December and the rematch will be played in Chesapeake Energy Arena, where the Thunder were 22–5 before the break. The Cavaliers were 2–3 against the Western Conference's top three teams—Golden State, San Antonio and Oklahoma City—before the All-Star break and Sunday's game is their last regular season meeting against a team in the West's top tier.
Monday, February 22: Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers
Four games separate the third- and eighth-place teams in the Eastern Conference, with the Heat and Pacers in the thick of the playoff race. Miami and Indiana entered the All-Star break in fifth and sixth place, respectively, with just one game separating the two teams. The Pacers hold a 2–1 series advantage over the Heat this season.
Monday, February 22: Atlanta Hawks vs. Golden State Warriors
Atlanta and Golden State, two current division leaders that combined for 127 regular-season wins last season, are trending in opposite directions. The Warriors won 48 games before the All-Star break, only 19 shy of their 2014-15 regular season win total, while the fourth-place Hawks' winning percentage has declined by more than 16 percent from last year. Golden State lost 124-116 on Feb. 6, 2015, when the Warriors last played in Atlanta.
Saturday, February 27: Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat
Boston, who has improved from a seventh-place finish last season, defeated Miami by 10 points in November. The third-place Celtics have a two-game lead over the Heat in the Eastern Conference standings, and Saturday marks the second of three regular-season games between the two teams.
Saturday, February 27: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Golden State Warriors
Every game Golden State plays this season can be considered one of the top games, but, for the sake of variety, we'll only choose the best of the best. The Warriors cruised to a 48–4 record (a 92.3% winning percentage) in the first half of the season. That start, along with the Spurs' 45–8 mark, has somewhat overshadowed the play of Oklahoma City. At 40–14, the Thunder find themselves on an island in the Western Conference standings—6.5 games out of second place and 4.5 games ahead of the fourth-place Clippers—but they'll get a shot on their home floor against the NBA's top dogs on Saturday.