Happy Thursday. Yesterday ended up being a slightly positive day. The CBB record was 1-0 with UAB winning in the NIT quarterfinals. The NBA record was 4-4. Let’s make today a little more positive. But first, a look at last night’s action…
- Jokic dropped 31, and the Nuggets had no issues in Washington. Their magic number at the top of the West is down to 6 (5 for the Kings). Yesterday, we talked about the Wizards and their inability to keep Porzingis, Beal, and Kuzma on the court, and they only had Porzingis healthy and available last night. That’s a huge chunk of the reason they’re going to miss the playoffs. They’re two and a half out after losing nine of eleven, and there’s very little time left to turn things around.
- Luka dropped 30 points to go along with his 17 assists, but the Mavs lost a close one to the Warriors in Dallas. There’s been much said about the bizarre inbound play that gifted the Warriors two free points, and…fair enough
Someone messed something up there (I’m still not all that sure it wasn’t the Mavs’ coaching staff). But the larger issue to look to is this – since acquiring Kyrie in early February, Dallas has gotten him and Luka on the court together in just nine of nineteen games. They’re 3-6 in those nine games, likely because they just haven’t had time to build chemistry. And now you’re looking at a closing stretch and then (hopefully) a postseason where they need to win games, and it’s just not clear that they’re ready to do that. The Mavs are in a two-way tie for the West 9 seed right now, half a game up on the 11/12 seeds. Golden State is up in the 6 seed after the win, but they’re still only two games ahead of the 11 seed.
- Jimmy Butler dropped 35, and the Heat picked up a big win over the Knicks. They’re now tied with the Nets for the 6 seed after winning two straight and seven of ten. The Nets do own the tiebreaker regardless of the outcome of Saturday’s game in Miami, but the Heat have a real shot at escaping the play-in here. A top seven seed seems likely either way; the Hawks are three and a half games back. The Knicks fall four games back of the Cavs with the loss, which means a top four seed is getting pretty unlikely. They still have a two games lead on the Nets and Heat, and they have a fairly favorable closing eight games – @Orlando, Houston, Miami, @Cleveland, Washington, @Indiana, @New Orleans, Indiana. They should be able to hold the 5 seed.
- Andrew Nembhard put up 25 and 10, and the Pacers went into Toronto and picked up a massive win over the Raptors without Tyrese Haliburton. They’re back within a game and a half of the play-in. With Haliburton potentially nearing a return, this thing isn’t done quite yet. That said, the remaining schedule is brutal. Celtics, Hawks, Bucks, Mavs, Thunder, Knicks twice, Cavs. There’s just one clearly winnable game against the Pistons. Indiana is facing an uphill battle. The Raptors remain the 9 seed, one game back of the Hawks and half a game ahead of the Bulls, after all three lost last night.
- Kenyon Martin Jr and Jalen Green combined for 63 and KPJ produced a 14-point triple-double, but the Rockets still lost in Memphis. Jaren Jackson Jr scored 37 for the Grizzlies, who saw Ja Morant go for 17, 5, and 4 in twenty-four minutes off the bench in his return from suspension. We’ll see where Morant goes from here, but his team is still just three and a half games back of the Nuggets and applying pressure after their fourth straight win. The Rockets stay a game behind the Spurs with the league’s second-worst record. They’re two games ahead of the rock-bottom Pistons.
- The Bucks crushed the Spurs in Milwaukee. San Antonio keeps pace with Houston. Milwaukee pushes their lead at the top of the East back up to two and a half games. Their magic numbers – 3 (Cavs), 8 (Sixers/Celtics).
- Alex Caruso missed his second straight game for the Bulls, and the Sixers rolled in Chicago. They were up 28 at half, and only four of ten starters across the two teams topped 25 minutes. Embiid only played 16. Philly is three games back of Milwaukee and half a game back of the Celtics and the 2 seed. The Bulls maintain the 10 seed, and they have a game and a half on the Pacers.
- KAT is back in Minnesota, and he dropped 22 to help the Timberwolves pull out a huge win over the Hawks. Naz Reid came up big with 26 off the bench, and Jaden McDaniels also scored 25. Minnesota is tied with OKC for the 7 seed, right in the middle of the mess of teams out West. They’ve won two in a row. Sunday’s trip to Golden State is a big one. The Hawks will three and a half games back of the Heat, which probably means they won’t be ending up with that 7 seed. They still have a game on the Raptors beneath them, and they should be safe to make the play-in with three games and two teams standing between them and the 11 seed.
- Dame scored 30 and chipped in 12 assists to help the Blazers get a big road win in Utah. This one ends a big losing streak and theoretically keeps their season alive, even if three and a half games is a lot to make up in ten games. It’s a bummer of a loss for Utah. You want to win home games against inferior teams. But they couldn’t get this one done despite a 40-point effort from Lauri Markkanen, and they’ll half a game out of the play-in. With the Bucks, Kings, Suns, and Celtics making for four of their next five games, the Jazz are entering the danger zone.
- The Lakers handled the Suns to move back into the play-in, where they sit in a two-way tie for the 9 seed. AD, Austin Reaves, and D’Angelo Russell all dropped at least 25, and LA improved to 7-5 without LeBron since his foot injury. It’s been a solid run for them. Devin Booker dropped 33 for the Suns, who are now going to see the Clippers and the 5 seed just half a game behind them in the rearview mirror after two straight losses and losses in five of six.
- UAB knocked off Vandy to set up an NIT semifinal with two of four teams being from C-USA. We’re one UAB and one North Texas win away from an all Conference USA final. Then Utah Valley held off Cincinnati. They’ll meet UAB in the semis. This has been a good rebound for the Wolverines; they’ve beaten New Mexico, Colorado, and now Cincy after losing by one point in the WAC semis.
- And now, my very official ranking of the 16 remaining teams in the NCAA Tournament, along with their percent chance (which is entirely subjective and not based on any statistical algorithm) of taking home the title. The ranking is purely based on who the best teams are, but matchups matter for the percent chance, so the order of the two might not match…
1 Alabama (20%)
2 Houston (14%)
3 Texas (9%)
4 UCLA (8%)
5 Kansas State (8%)
6 UConn (11%)
7 Gonzaga (8%)
8 Miami (8%)
9 Creighton (5%)
10 Xavier (3%)
11 FAU (1%)
12 Tennessee (1.9%)
13 San Diego State (1%)
14 Michigan State (1%)
15 Arkansas (1%)
16 Princeton (0.1%)
NBA record: 194-165-7 ATS, 31-57 ML, 102-82-2 O/U, 1-9 parlay, 0-1 props, -11.95 units
- Knicks -3.5
- Cavs -4
- Pelicans -9
- Thunder Clippers U232
CBB record: 249-225-12 ATS, 52-82 ML, 5-4 O/U, 16-25 parlay, -22.93 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: 4-4 ATS, 0-0 ML, 0-0 parlay, -0.4 units
NCAA Tourney record: 13-9 ATS, 3-6 ML, 1-0 O/U, 0-0 parlay, +2.45 units
- FAU +5.5
- FAU ML (+210)
- Kansas State ML (+105)
- UConn -4
- Gonzaga ML (+105)
CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT CHAMP PICKS
Record: 11-21 (10 losses in title game)