The N.B.A.’s Best Games to Watch as the Playoff Races Tighten

Let’s get into some games.

Game of the Week

Cleveland at San Antonio, Monday, 8 p.m., TNT

The Cavaliers look as if they may be unaware they are in a playoff race. After losing two of three games last week, they were virtually tied with the Boston Celtics for first place in the East entering Monday night’s games. (Boston had played two more games and trailed the Cavaliers in percentage points.)

Cleveland’s defense is disastrous. In its latest embarrassment, it allowed the Washington Wizards to score 71 points in the first half on Saturday and 127 points over all in a relatively easy win. Washington shot 59.8 percent from the floor and almost 45 percent from behind the 3-point line.

It was the third time in four games that the Cavs had allowed an opponent to score 120 points or more. One of those teams was the Denver Nuggets, who had no business beating Cleveland by 13 points.

Most fans believe the Cavs can start playing with grit when it matters, and Cleveland will get a nice tuneup in the early rounds of the playoffs before having to face a tougher team like Boston or Washington.

Still, the problem bears watching. The Cavs have weak defenders, including the stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Lately, even their defensive specialists — LeBron James, Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson — have not battled with their usual gusto.

Cleveland is 16-13 against Western Conference teams this season, and it has not beaten one of the titans — Houston, San Antonio and Golden State — since December. Against the Spurs at home in January, the Cavs allowed Kawhi Leonard to score 41 points, a career high, and San Antonio took home a win without two of its starters, Pau Gasol and Tony Parker, who were out with injuries.

San Antonio does not have any major issues with injuries now; LaMarcus Aldridge is back, after a minor heart arrhythmia caused some…

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