Happy Sunday. This is a pretty solid day of basketball, headlined by Bucks-Nets at 2:30 Central on ABC. Before we can get to today’s games, however, let’s take a quick look at what happened yesterday.
TAKEAWAYS FROM YESTERDAY
- The Nuggets took control of the West 3 seed and the tiebreaker with a win over the Clippers. Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr combined for 55, and the middle quarters (+11 for Denver) decided things. Denver now holds a half game lead in the race for that 3 seed, which may not matter all that much given how uncertain the seeding is across the West.
- The Wizards, Bulls, and Raptors all lost, allowing the Wizards to maintain their three game lead for the East’s 10 seed. It’s becoming very hard to see Chicago or Toronto getting the wins they’ll need.
- The Mavs came back late to beat the Wizards after blowing a first half lead. That win puts them in a tie with the Lakers for the West’s 5 seed, and Dallas has the tiebreaker. Portland is a game back of both in a key race to avoid the play-in.
- The Jazz, for a few more hours at least, are back on top of the West after their win over the Raptors. The Suns play tonight and hold the tiebreaker.
- The Hawks, Heat, Hornets, Warriors, and Pacers all won to strengthen their playoff positioning. The Pacers were up by 65 at one point against the Thunder, but they fell off a little bit at the end and only won by 57.
- The Pelicans are still three games behind the Warriors and Spurs (and the play-in), but they pulled one out against the Timberwolves in overtime to keep themselves with some decent amount of hope. They have three massive games against Golden State coming up over the next few weeks.
- The Grizzlies took a fourteen point lead into the half, but they couldn’t hold onto it against the Magic. Memphis is still in the 8 seed and half a game ahead of the Warriors and Spurs, but that’s a brutal loss, especially when ending up in that 8 seed and giving yourself double elimination in the play-in is a pretty significant deal.
With that, we can move on to today.
- Nets @ Bucks
A big game for seeding in the East; the Bucks need to take these next two against Brooklyn (today and Tuesday) to throw themselves back in the race for the 1 seed. Giannis is expected to return for Milwaukee with KD and Kyrie both ready to go for Brooklyn.
- Blazers @ Celtics
This is a massive game for both teams. The Blazers, as we mentioned above, are on the wrong end of a tight race to avoid the West play-in. Both the Lakers and Mavs also play tonight, so it’s a pretty significant night for all three. The Celtics are in a play-in race of their own. They’re tied with the Heat for the 6 seed, and the Hawks are half a game ahead of both. Tonight, both Boston and Miami could pull back into a three-way tie for the 5 seed with Atlanta, who has the night off after yesterday’s win.
- Knicks @ Rockets
The Knicks are one game up on the Hawks. This is a good chance to pick up a big win against an inferior team.
- Sixers @ Spurs
The Sixers could reclaim the East’s top seed with a win and a Nets loss, but it won’t be easy against a Spurs team looking to lock up their hold on the play-in. The Pelicans are only three games back, so there’s plenty of pressure on San Antonio to finish strong.
- Suns @ Thunder
The Suns can retake the West’s 1 seed (which they would hold by virtue of a tiebreaker). All they have to do is beat the team that lost by 57 last night…
- Kings @ Mavs
The Kings are hanging onto playoff hopes by the thinnest of threads. Can they keep the hope alive by grabbing a key win against a Mavs team coming off a hard-fought victory last night? Dallas needs the win too if they want to keep pace in the race for the 5 seed.
- Heat @ Hornets
This is a key game for the Hornets if they want to avoid the play-in, which is already unlikely at this point. They’re 2.5 games back of the Celtics and Heat and 3 games back of the Hawks, and they’d need to finish above two of the three. It becomes more likely with a win in this one, however. The Heat only need to finish ahead of Boston or Atlanta, and this game is equally important for them. This could be a fun one.
- Raptors @ Lakers
The Raptors are trying to keep already dim playoff hopes alive. The Lakers are trying to avoid a stumble all the way down to the 7 seed. It’s been rough for the Raptors lately, so this is a solid opportunity for the Lakers to get some momentum.
The Mavs-Pacers parlay hit yesterday. Let’s have another good day today.