Tuesday's NBA Guide: Sixth Men Missing

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Dallas at San Antonio, 8:30PM ET, NBATV

The injury bug has bitten way too many teams this season, and it's likely to have something to do with who comes out on top in tonight's Texas showdown. Both the Mavericks and the Spurs have temporarily lost their heavily-relied upon sixth men for a while: Dallas will be without Jason Terry, and the Spurs will be without Manu Ginobili.

Both teams easily won their last games without their super-subs, although those wins came at Washington for the Mavs and at Sacramento for the Spurs -- not exactly the toughest competition the league has to offer.

Dallas has been playing better lately, winning eight of their last 11, and the Spurs are playing their first home game in 19 days after leaving town for their annual "rodeo" road trip. While the Spurs are solidly in second place in the West, the Mavs are just two games behind the second spot, but also two games ahead of the ninth, non-playoff position in the standings. This might be a good opportunity for them to gain some ground on a Manu-less, road-weary Spurs team, but they'll need solid performances all around to make that happen.

Portland at Houston, 8:30PM ET

The third Texas team is in action tonight as well, and they have some injury issues of their own. Tracy McGrady is undergoing season-ending microfracture surgery, but the Rockets are 15-6 without him in the lineup, so -- no big deal. Ron Artest has averaged 20 per game over his last four in the starting lineup, and those were all Rockets victories.

Portland's playing well too, and they're injury concern is Greg Oden, who's said to be day-ti-day with a knee thing. When I hear "bone chip" it seems like it should be more than a day-to-day situation, but apparently Oden is an old pro at this point when it comes to injuries and he's just taking it one game at a time.

These are two more teams trying to create some separation in those Western Conference standings, lets just hope it's half as exciting as the last time they met back in November.

Charlotte at Phoenix, 9PM ET

Boris Diaw and Raja Bell return to the scene of the crime -- the crime that was them getting traded out of town in support of a new head coach who no longer is employed. The two jilted Suns got their revenge the last time the teams met in Charlotte; they'll likely feel more satisfied this time around knowing that they were right all along. It just took Steve Kerr a little longer to figure it out.

Detroit at Miami , 7:30PM ET

What a mess in Detroit. Losers of six straight and 15 of their last 20, the Pistons will try to avoid falling below .500 when they visit the Heat -- and that's something nobody could have predicted at the beginning of the season.

Memphis at Cleveland, 7PM ET
Minnesota at Toronto, 7PM ET
Orlando at Chicago, 8PM ET
L.A. Lakers at Oklahoma City, 8PM ET

Tuesday's NBA Guide: Sixth Men Missing originally appeared on NBA FanHouse on Tue, 24 Feb 2009 19:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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