• It’s the final day of the NBA regular season. It’s a day where some of you are looking at your team’s record and just shaking your head while others are excited for the playoffs to begin. There are 14 games on the slate for Wednesday and some of them are looking to be stinkers. However, there are a few games tonight that carry a lot of weight with playoff seeding on the line. Without further ado, here are your ‘must watch’ games of the night.

    The Honorable Mentions: The Warriors look to pass the 1995-96 Bulls for the best single-season record in NBA history. The competition from Memphis is why I’m not calling this a must-watch game on a very busy night, but the history on the line in this game is amazing. A record that has stood strong for 21 years has the chance (very, very, very high chance) of getting broken tonight.  Any yes, it can turn ‘must watch’ real quick if the score is tight.

    Now for the main course, here are your ‘must watch’ games of the night.

    Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

    Tip Time: 8 pm (est)

    Where: TD Garden, Boston, MA

    Player Matchup: Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas

    There is a lot on the line for the Heat (48-33) in this matchup. As it stands now, Miami is currently the three-seed in the Eastern Conference. However, they are in a tie with the Atlanta Hawks and are only one game ahead of the Celtics and the Hornets (both of which own the tiebreaker over the Heat). A loss tonight could result in the Heat dropping from the three-seed to as low as the sixth seed.

    “To get a win on the road at this time of the year, when you’re desperate, is good as we go into the playoffs,” Dwayne Wade said. “There are going to be moments like that in the playoffs, where you go on the road, and you might need a win. The mentality that we had today was very good. I like to see the  growth in us.”

    Wade has been fantastic this season, averaging 19.1 points, 4.6 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. In his previous two meetings with the Celtics, the 34-year-old veteran turned back the clock averaging 24.5 points, 3.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds while shooting 44.2 percent from the field.

    Boston (47-34) has the chance to gain home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The importance of home court advantage is sometimes undervalued, but the Celtics seem to understand how beneficial it would be to have a playoff series start and end on their home floor.

    “We’ll do everything we can to control that and it starts with a win (Wednesday),” Isaiah Thomas told the team’s official site. “Hopefully we can get fourth place and have home court in the first round because it will definitely help us.”

    Thomas has been great this season and it led to him being named an All Star. Against the Heat, however, Thomas has really struggled. In his two previous meetings against Miami, he is averaging 14 points and 6.5 assists per game while shooting an abysmal 26.5 percent from the field.

    This game carries the weight of the Eastern Conference standings. A win for Miami would mean no significant change, but a loss could trigger a complete shake up. If you’re ready for the playoffs and you want to watch a game with that type of feel, then this is the game for you.

    Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Lakers

    Tip Time: 10:30 pm (est)

    Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA

    Player Matchup: Rodney Hood and Kobe Bryant

    The Jazz holds their playoff lives in their hands heading into tonight’s meeting with the Lakers. Utah has been an interesting team to watch all season. They play a slower paced type of game and have prided themselves on the defensive side of the floor. Unfortunately, at the most inopportune time, Utah is hobbling.

    Derrick Favors is dealing with knee soreness, Gordon Hayward is playing through plantar fasciitis, Rodney Hood is dealing with back issues and now Rudy Gobert did not even make the trip to L.A. because of an ankle injury. Rookie Trey Lyles is expected to get the start in place of Gobert, moving Favors to the center position.

    (Be sure to check Hoop Ball for updates on these players’ statuses before tip-off.)

    This is a must-win game for the Jazz. Even with a win, the team still needs Sacramento to defeat the Rockets in Houston as a 15.5 point underdog.

    “We gotta go to Los Angeles and try to win a game under difficult circumstances with it being Kobe’s last game, and see what happens elsewhere and hope for the best,” said Quin Snyder.

    Tonight, we say goodbye to a legend. After 20 incredible years of watching this man hit buzzer beaters, climb the record books and win championships, we have now come to the day where we say goodbye to Kobe Bryant.

    It’s almost too hard to imagine a league without the Black Mamba. Bryant played this game with such passion and aggression that only a slim few bring to this game today. Even if you are not a fan of Bryant, you respect the talent. I asked fans to describe Bryant in one word and here are some of my responses: Polarizing. Dominant. Champion. Goat.

    Over the season, we have seen a different side of Bryant. He has been more interactive with the fans and has been more open in his interviews. The Lakers are bad right now as the team is going through a development year. That has allowed Bryant to show a more laid back side of himself during his farewell season.

    “I’ve allowed myself to take the blinders off and enjoy the fans, enjoy the crowd. Laugh a little bit more. Engage a little bit more,” Bryant said.

    Tonight, in front of his home crowd, we say goodbye to one of the greatest players of all time.

    “I’ve grown up in front of this crowd from the age of 17,” Bryant said. ” A lot of faces that I saw in the crowd in my very first game are still here. That’s very special. Kids that are sitting there now, that were kids when I first came in, now come to the game with their kids. You know, that’s pretty cool.”

Fantasy News

  • Stephen Curry
    PG, Golden State Warriors

    Coach Steve Kerr said that Stephen Curry will play this season once he is healthy.

    Kerr said that "It's important for Steph and Andrew to get to know each other and to play together". It sounds like Kerr has no problem with playing Curry once he is fully recovered so he can get used to his new teammates. Curry should be on a roster in all 12-team leagues since he's a proven fantasy stud and could be an early-round player during the fantasy playoffs.

    Source: Kurt Helin on Twitter

  • Robert Williams III
    C-F, Boston Celtics

    Robert Williams (left hip edema) will not play in the upcoming four-game road trip but hinted that he would return on February 29th vs. the Rockets.

    Williams said there are "No limitations on anything I'm doing" and said that he wants to "windmill every time" but has to "play it cautious a little bit". Williams looks to be ramping up and is likely to return in the next two weeks. Williams has low upside behind Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis in the rotation but can be a streamer for blocks when he returns.

    Source: A. Sherrod Blakely on Twitter

  • Dario Saric
    PF, Phoenix Suns

    Dario Saric (left ankle) participated fully in practice on Wednesday and is hopeful to return on Friday vs. the Raptors.

    Saric is outside the top-150 in both 9-cat and 8-cat leagues this season. Mikal Bridges has been on a roll the past month, producing top-60 value in 9-cat leagues. Saric entering the rotation could cut into Bridges' minutes and it will be worth watching the Suns' rotations the next few games. Bridges is a hold in standard-leagues and Saric is a low-upside option in 14-team leagues.

    Source: Gina Mizell on Twitter

  • Aron Baynes
    C, Phoenix Suns

    Aron Baynes (left hip soreness) participated in practice on Wednesday.

    Coach Monty Williams said he's hopeful Baynes will return on Friday vs. the Raptors. Baynes is unlikely to get back to producing standard-league value with Deandre Ayton in the lineup, who is also expected to return on Friday. Baynes could carve out late-round value in 14-team leagues for big-man stats.

    Source: Gina Mizell on Twitter

  • Deandre Ayton
    C, Phoenix Suns

    Deandre Ayton (left ankle soreness) practiced on Wednesday and Coach Monty Williams says that he's hopeful Ayton will be able to play on Friday.

    Ayton missed the past two games with an injury but looks ready to return the next game. Ayton is a top-15/30 player in 9/8 cat leagues on the season and should remain in that range the rest of the way. This kills the small amount of value that Cheick Diallo had and he can be left on waiver wires outside of 20-team leagues.

    Source: Gina Mizell on Twitter

  • Robert Williams III
    C-F, Boston Celtics

    Robert Williams (hip) participated in practice on Wednesday and felt good.

    The Celtics are encouraged by Williams' progress and plan to ramp him up in practice over the next 1-2 weeks. Williams will be behind Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis in the rotation and will only have appeal as a block specialist. Kanter and Theis will lose value when Williams enters the rotation. Theis is a top-70 player over the past month in 26 minutes per game while Kanter is outside the top-175 in 19 minutes per game. Theis will likely hold standard-league value and Kanter will remain a low-upside option in 16-team leagues.

    Source: Tim Bontemps on Twitter

  • Norman Powell
    SF, Toronto Raptors

    Norman Powell (finger) is about a week away from his next check up.

    Nick Nurse made the comment on Wednesday and a check up does not necessarily mean a return date. Powell should be expected to miss at least one more week. He was producing top-90 value for a month before he was injured, so it may be worth grabbing him if you have an open IR spot and can afford to hold him until he returns.

    Source: Laura Armstrong on Twitter

  • Marc Gasol
    C, Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol (left hamstring) is a possibility for Friday's game.

    Gasol has been out since late January and it sounded like the All-Star break was going to be the final stretch of rehab that he'd need in order to return. Even if his return doesn't come on Friday, it sure sounds like the big man will be back in action soon enough. Make sure Gasol isn't on your waiver wires.

    Source: Eric Koreen on Twitter

  • Will Barton
    SG, Denver Nuggets

    Will Barton (right knee inflammation) was limited at Wednesday's practice.

    The Nuggets didn't give a formal update but Barton did less at the session than Denver's other injured players, so fantasy GMs might want to look elsewhere in the short-term. Gary Harris and Torrey Craig should absorb Barton's minutes for as long as he remains out.

    Source: TJ McBride on Twitter

  • Mason Plumlee
    C, Denver Nuggets

    Mason Plumlee (right foot injury) was able to participate in most of Wednesday's practice session.

    Plumlee went down in late January and was set to miss 2-4 weeks, so a return should be coming soon. The Nuggets have rolled with smaller groups while Plumlee has been shelved, though he was a defensive anchor for the second unit when healthy. Expect his return to eat away at the workloads of Jerami Grant and Michael Porter Jr.

    Source: TJ McBride on Twitter