Happy Wednesday. Yesterday was a 3-2-1 NBA day, which we’ll take every day of the week. I may have completely forgotten there were NIT games last night, so there were no plays there. Let’s have another positive day today. But first, let’s take a look at last night’s action…
- The Wizards held a one-point lead after three quarters, but they ended up losing by 10 in Orlando despite a 30-point showing from Kristaps Porzingis. Washington falls to 32-40, and they’re two and a half games out of the play-in. That’s a big deficit to overcome with just ten games remaining, especially when you’ve won just two of your last ten games. Let’s dive into something here. This won’t be a perfect representation of injury woes – it won’t catch Middleton, Rob Will, Caruso, players that have missed the entire season (Lonzo), etc. – and will have various confounding lineup-based variables. But it should show something about the Wizards in relation to other East teams. I’ve also made it just starters to avoid Brogdon in Boston who is bound to play a decent chunk of minutes without Brown and Tatum anyway given his bench role…
Minutes Played With All Three of Team’s Top Scoring Starters on the Court
Bulls (DeRozan, LaVine, Vucevic) – 1475
Knicks (Randle, Brunson, Barrett) – 1401
Hawks (Trae, Murray, Hunter) – 1170
Cavs (Mitchell, Garland, Mobley) – 1122
Pacers (Haliburton, Turner, Hield) – 1076
Raptors (Siakam, VanVleet, Trent – only started 43 of 63) – 952
Heat (Butler, Adebayo, Herro) – 949
Celtics (Tatum, Brown, White) – 864
Wizards (Beal, Porzingis, Kuzma) – 740
Bucks (Giannis, Jrue, Brook) – 714
Sixers (Embiid, Harden, Maxey) – 628
*Nets (top three scorers not even on the team at the same time)
Every team the Raptors are fighting for the play-in with (Toronto, Indiana, Atlanta, Chicago) has gotten at least 200 more minutes with their three highest volume scorers on the court all at once. That’s a huge deal. No one thinks this Washington roster is particularly deep, especially in comparison to teams like the Celtics, Bucks, and Sixers. Nor are their best players capable of carrying a team like Giannis or Embiid. They need all three of those guys available, and they simply haven’t been.
For the Magic, the win doesn’t mean a whole lot for their postseason hopes. They’re still five games out of the play-in. The bigger question is whether they’ll finish with the league’s fifth-worst record. They currently sit two games back of the Blazers (with the Wizards and Pacers half a game ahead of Portland), but they’ve played two more games.
- Donovan Mitchell dropped 31, and the Cavs held off the Nets late. Cleveland is alone in the 4 seed with three and a half games on either side. Brooklyn is in some real trouble after their fourth straight loss. They’re just a half game up on the Heat and that 7 seed with ten games to play (Miami has nine left). Getting the 6 seed means a first round matchup with (likely) the Celtics or Sixers, so that’s not particularly appealing. But falling to the 7 seed means having to win a play-in game to play either the Bucks, Celtics, or Sixers in the first round. There’s no world in which that’s a better route.
- Marvin Bagley II dropped 31, but Trae Young paced the Hawks to an easy win with 30 points and 12 assists. Atlanta needed this one; it puts them a full game up on the Raptors and the 9 seed. The Pistons lose their fourth in a row, and they have a two and a half game edge on the Rockets for the league’s worst record.
- Brandon Ingram scored 32 points in a blowout win over the Spurs. The Pelicans are tied with the Lakers for the West 11 seed, and the Warriors are just a game and a half up all the way up in the 6 seed. There’s plenty to play for over the next few weeks. San Antonio (league’s third-worst record) is just a game ahead of Houston.
- The Celtics rolled past the Kings in Sacramento for a big win. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 63, and Boston will pull back within two games of the Bucks at the top of the East. More importantly, they open up a one game lead over the Sixers for that 2 seed. They have a relatively easy stretch coming up – Pacers, Spurs, @Wizards – before their final six games. Time to take advantage. It’s been a tough two day for the Kings, who are now five games back of the Nuggets. They’re a game and a half back of the Grizzlies and the 2 seed too. The 3 seed is likely safe with the Suns four and a half back, but beating Phoenix in Sacramento on Friday night would help there.
- The Thunder weathered an early deficit and pulled out a close one in Los Angeles. SGA dropped 31 in the win over his former team, and OKC moves up into a tie for the 7 seed with the Mavs. They only have a one game buffer from the 11 seed, so nothing is safe yet. But the Thunder have a pretty decent chance here. The Clippers are alone in the 5 seed with a game on either side of them, but the more concerning issue for them is Paul George’s injury. He went down late in the game with a leg injury, and the early reports there don’t exactly look great. We’ll see if the Clippers end up seeing another postseason try given a hard ceiling because of injury.
- North Texas (Oklahoma State) and Wisconsin (Oregon) will meet in the NIT semis after winning their quarterfinal games last night. That means zero of the four 1 seeds will make the semis. I like North Texas quite a bit. Fellow C-USA team UAB will hope to join them by beating Vandy tonight. The winner of that one will get the winner of Cincinnati and Utah Valley.
NBA record: 192-163-7 ATS, 31-55 ML, 100-82-2 O/U, 1-9 parlay, 0-1 props, -11.62 units
- Pacers Raptors U234
- Mavs ML (-105)
- Knicks ML (+110)
- Bucks -17.5
- Sixers -3.5
- Jazz -5
- Suns -1
- Suns Lakers O230
CBB record: 248-225-12 ATS, 52-82 ML, 5-4 O/U, 16-25 parlay, -23.93 units
CBB regular season record: 198-181-8 ATS, 47-75 ML, 4-4 O/U, 12-24 parlay, -30.85 units
CBB conference tourney record: 34-31-4 ATS, 7-10 ML, 0-0 O/U, 4-3 parlay, + 5.87 units
NIT record: 3-4 ATS, 0-0 ML, 0-0 parlay, -1.4 units
- UAB -1
NCAA Tourney record: 13-9 ATS, 3-6 ML, 1-0 O/U, 0-0 parlay, +2.45 units
CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT CHAMP PICKS
Record: 11-21 (10 losses in title game)