Welcome to Tuesday. Monday wasn’t good for the bottom line, but it’s time to rebound today. Let’s get to it.
The Magic beat the Pistons behind a group effort that saw nine players score 8 or more points. Mo Bamba led the way with 22. Detroit is now in much better position when it comes to landing in that key bottom three, which offers equal lottery odds for the number one pick. The Pistons are one game ahead of the third-to-last Timberwolves, and both the Magic and Thunder are two games back.
The Wizards overcame 65 points, 14 assists, and 26 rebounds from Domantas Sabonis and Caris LeVert by dropping 154 on the Pacers in a thirteen-point win. Russell Westbrook produced his second 20-assist, 20-rebound performance – only the third such individual game in NBA history (Wilt). Washington was up by 20 after three quarters, and this win gives them three games of separation at the bottom of the play-in bracket. The magic number (Wizards wins + Raptors losses) to clinch that playoff spot is just 5. The number is 4 when it comes to the Bulls. For the Pacers, this loss hurts their pursuit of a top 8 spot and the ability to lose a play-in game without being eliminated. They’re now a game behind Charlotte and just half a game ahead of Washington. Their magic numbers for clinching a top 10 spot are the same.
The Knicks rolled past the Grizzlies to keep their momentum going. They’re now 1.5 games ahead of the 5 seed Hawks in the race for first round home court advantage, and they’re getting closer and closer to securing one of those top 6 spots. The Grizzlies are having a bit of a rough time recently, and they’ve fallen behind the Warriors into the 9 seed. The Pelicans and Spurs both lost last night, so Memphis is still 1 game ahead of San Antonio and 3.5 ahead of New Orleans.
The Warriors picked up a huge win in the first of three late-season games with the Pelicans. They’re now four games up on the Pels, who are hanging by a thread when it comes to the playoffs. Golden State also, as we just mentioned, moved into that 8 seed for now, which would give them a little extra breathing room in the play-in.
The Hawks kept pace with the Knicks and moved a little closer to a top 6 spot with a win over the streaking Trail Blazers. Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Trae Young all topped 20 points. Atlanta is 1.5 games ahead of the 7 seed Celtics. The Blazers, meanwhile, will fall back into sole possession of the West’s 7 seed. They’re 1 game behind the Lakers (5 seed) and half a game behind the Mavs (6).
The Sixers beat the Bulls to put Chicago on life support and keep their hold on the East’s 1 seed. Philly is 1 game ahead of Brooklyn and 3.5 games ahead of Milwaukee heading into their game tonight. The Bulls are now 4 games out of the playoffs.
The Jazz picked up a comfortable win over the Spurs to keep pace in the race for the West’s top seed. They’re half a game up on Phoenix, who holds the tiebreaker. The Suns play in Cleveland tonight. For San Antonio, the loss allows New Orleans to stay within reach (2.5 games back). The Spurs still have a little bit of work to do.
The Lakers, after a day of talk about the pros and cons of the play-in were sparked by LeBron deciding it might not be a very good system if he had to play in it, picked up a key win over the Nuggets to move themselves back into the 5 seed. Denver scored just 89 points in the four-point loss, which moves them back down into a tie for the 3 seed with the Clippers. They do own the tiebreaker there.
- Hornets @ Pistons
The Hornets can move a small step closer to securing that top 8 spot. The Pistons can move closer to a bottom three spot. A Hornets win would be a win-win scenario.
- Suns @ Cavs
The Suns want the 1 seed out West, and they’d be back in possession of it with a win in this one. Cleveland, meanwhile, is far from dead in the race for the bottom three, sitting just 1.5 games back of the Timberwolves. We’re looking at another win-win possibility in this one.
- Nets @ Bucks
With a loss, the Bucks would be all but locked into that 3 seed. With a win, the 2 seed (and home court in a potential series with the Nets) is a very distinct possibility, as Milwaukee would be just 1.5 games behind Brooklyn with a game in hand. There would be still be 3 games separating the Bucks and Sixers with seven to play, so the 1 seed might be out of reach regardless. That 2 seed, however, is well worth fighting for.
- Warriors @ Pelicans
After last night’s loss, this is simply a must-win for New Orleans. That win would keep some hope alive. A loss would decrease their elimination numbers (Pelicans losses + 8-10 seed wins needed to eliminate New Orleans) to the following:
Warriors – 2
Grizzlies – 4
Spurs – 5
With seven games to play, that’s not ideal. The results from a win –
Warriors – 4
Grizzlies – 5
Spurs – 6
are at least a little easier to look at without losing faith. For Golden State, this is another chance to deal a direct blow to the only team that could make a late run into the playoff picture.
- Kings @ Thunder
Technically, the Kings are still alive to do that as well. They’re in even more dire straits than the Pelicans, however, with a full four games sitting between them and the Spurs. A loss to a terrible Thunder team would be a death blow (not by the numbers but you know what I mean).
- Mavs @ Heat
This is a crucial game for the two 6 seeds on either side of the league. With a win, the Mavs move back into a 5 seed tie with the Lakers. With a loss, they drop down into a 6 seed tie with the Blazers. They own the tiebreaker with LA but not Portland. Miami, meanwhile, can keep pace with the Hawks with a win. Atlanta has the tiebreaker and would still hold the 5 seed. A loss would put them only half a game ahead of the Celtics, who play in Orlando and Chicago ahead of a crucial two-game series between these two on Sunday and Tuesday (in Boston).
- Raptors @ Clippers
The Raptors need to win to keep hope alive out East. They’re three back of the Wizards. The Clippers can reclaim the West’s 3 seed with a win, and they’ll be inspired to get back to winning after three straight losses. The stakes in this one are pretty simple.
Yesterday was bad. Let’s fix that today.
Hornets/Kings ML parlay