NBA contenders duke it out for playoff position on TNT, ABC


Kawhi Leonard

This is a banner week to be an NBA fan as the week’s national broadcast schedule is saturated with match-ups featuring playoff contenders.

Highlighting the slate is the Tuesday, Feb. 26, doubleheader on TNT, which gets going in Toronto, where Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors, at this writing the No. 2 seed in the East, play host to Kyrie Irving and the No. 5 seed Boston Celtics. The Celts lead the season series two games to one, with the home team winning each game.

Immediately following is a clash of West titans when Russell Westbrook leads his No. 5 seed Oklahoma City Thunder onto the home court of Nikola Jokic and the second-seeded Denver Nuggets, who own a 2-0 advantage in these teams’ season series.

Also worthy of note is TNT’s twin bill on Thursday, Feb. 28, which opens with Darren Collison and the Indiana Pacers, the third seed in the East, hosting Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves, at this writing on the outside looking in at the West playoff picture. The T’wolves beat the Pacers 101-91 back on Oct. 22.

Then in the nightcap, its another intraconference clash when the Thunder play host to Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers, the fourth seed in the East. Oklahoma City took their first meeting with the Sixers on Jan. 19, 117-115.

The Sixers are also in action Saturday, March 2, on ABC, when they welcome in Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors, the top seed in the West. This is Philly’s second clash with the defending champs this season.

•After the excitement and pageantry of the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s Monster Energy Cup series settles into the rest of its schedule, starting with the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

Airing Sunday, Feb. 24, on Fox, the race takes place on the 1.5-mile oval of Atlanta Motor Speedway, where a field including Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson and the rest of the Cup’s best will do battle to rack up the “W” and its commensurate points.

Kevin Harvick won this race in dominating fashion a year ago, pulling away from the field after leading 173 of the race’s 325 laps. The victory had special meaning for the California native, as it was here 17 years earlier where he picked up his first Cup win driving Dale Earnhardt’s No. 3 Chevy, a week after the NASCAR legend was killed at Daytona. It also enabled him to exorcize the ghosts from the 2017 Atlanta spring race, where a speeding penalty on Pit Road cost him the win after an impressive performance.

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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