Happy Thursday. We found our groove last night, going 7-4 on NBA plays. That’ll play. We’ll look to keep that rolling tonight, and we also have the NIT championship game to find a winner on. But first, a look at last night’s action…
- Giannis gave the Pacers 38 points, 12 assists, and 17 rebounds, and it might not have been the most impressive performance from a Buck last night because Jrue Holiday put up 51, 8, and 8. Throw in 21 from Brook Lopez, and it’s hard to lose, even without Khris Middleton. Benedict Mathurin scored 29 while Andrew Nembhard chipped in 15 points and 15 assists for Indiana, but they continue to be at a talent deficit with Tyrese Haliburton, Myles Turner, and Buddy Hield out. Milwaukee’s lead at the top of the East is up to three games with just six to play. Their magic numbers are 2 (Sixers) and 4 (Celtics), and both of those would go down to 1 if they can beat Boston tonight. A win for Boston would keep the Celtics alive more than it would put them right back in it at this point. The Bucks are also three and a half games up on the Nuggets for the league’s best record. They’re quickly closing in on clinching home court throughout the playoffs. This marks four straight losses for the Pacers, who are three and a half out of the play-in with just five games left. They’re done. Lottery positioning is the more crucial question. They currently have the league’s seventh-worst record, but both the Magic and Blazers are just half a game behind them.
- Cam Johnson and Mikal Bridges combined for 58, and the Nets pulled away from the Rockets late. This was a big one for Brooklyn; it puts them a game and a half above the Heat. The magic number to clinch a guaranteed playoff spot is 4, and the Pistons and Magic are still on the schedule. It’s almost there for the Nets, but they’re not out of the woods quite yet. Houston has lost seven straight. They have the league’s second-worst record and a game and a half on either side of them. Tomorrow’s game with the Pistons is huge. Detroit will end up with the league’s worst record if they lose. We’ll see if the Rockets can out-tank them. This is why we love sports.
- The Sixers locked up the Mavs late to pull out a win. They’re all alone in the East 3 seed with at least two games on either side of them, and it’s becoming increasingly likely that they stay there. Their season finale is a trip to Brooklyn, which might end up being a first round preview. It’s an eighth loss in eleven games for the Mavs, who have fallen all the way out of the West playoff picture. They’re a full game back of the 10 seed Thunder. It doesn’t get a whole lot easier from here either, with a road back-to-back against Heat and Hawks teams still fighting for seeding coming this weekend ahead of Wednesday’s home game against the Kings.
- The Knicks left the Heat behind late with a strong defensive performance in the fourth quarter. There were a lot of games last night that went into the fourth quarter tied (or just about) and ending up being decided by multiple possessions. This was an impressive win for the Knicks. They got Jalen Brunson back (12, 3, and 2 in 30 minutes), but they lost Julius Randle after only fifteen minutes due to a sprained ankle. Randle’s status for the next few games is up in the air. The good thing for the Knicks is that they likely end up with the 5 seed regardless of how these last five games go, so they have some room for Randle to miss a game or two if needed. Miami will fall a game and a half back of the Nets and the 6 seed with the loss. They’re only a game and a half up on the Hawks and Raptors now too. Three straight losses have had an impact, and Saturday’s game against the Mavs is big for both sides.
- The Clippers and Grizzlies were also tied after three quarters, but the Clippers pulled away in the fourth to win a shoutout in Memphis despite having neither Kawhi or Paul George. They’ll take that. Russ (really good game) and Robert Covington combined for 63 to spark the win, and the Clips will keep pace with the Suns. They’re half a game back of Phoenix and a game ahead of the Warriors and the 6 seed. With the Timberwolves and the 7 seed two games back, LA is closing in on a guaranteed playoff spot. The Grizzlies are still 10-2 in their last twelve, so they won’t be too feeling too bad about themselves. You’d like to win home games where Ja and Dillon Brooks combine for 66 points, but it is what it is. Jaren Jackson Jr and Desmond Bane were both out. This does probably close the door on the 1 seed barring a complete collapse from the Nuggets, but the Grizzlies are still two games up on the Kings for the 2 seed.
- The Jazz handled the Spurs in San Antonio behind a 41-point performance from Talen Horton-Tucker. Utah needed this one. They’re still a game and a half out, but this gives them a fighting chance. Road games against the Celtics and Nets are coming this weekend. If they can grab at least one of those and stay alive, three of their final four are against the Lakers and Thunder, teams within reach in the standings. The Spurs lose their fifth in a row, but they’re still a game and a half ahead of the Rockets (and two games up in the loss column. They’ll probably end up with the league’s third-worst record.
- AD and LeBron combined for 63, and the Lakers handled the Bulls in Chicago. They’re tied for the 8 seed with the Pelicans, half a game behind the Timberwolves, half a game ahead of the Thunder, and a game and a half ahead of the 11 seed Mavs. They’re only a game and a half back of the top six too. All of this is to say that the Lakers are in a decent spot but still far from safe. Tomorrow’s trip to Minnesota is massive. The Bulls have fallen two games back of the Hawks and Raptors after two straight losses, and their lead over the 11 seed Wizards has dwindled to two games. They need to take advantage of tomorrow’s trip to Charlotte. The magic number to clinch a play-in spot is 4.
- Jalen Williams scored 27, and the Thunder survived the Pistons without SGA. OKC is alone in the 10 seed; they have a one game lead on the Mavs and are just one game back of the 7 seed Timberwolves. Winning in Indiana tomorrow would be big ahead of a tough closing stretch – Suns, @Warriors, @Jazz, Grizzlies. They’ll need SGA healthy. Detroit loses their seventh in a row and continues to head towards the league’s worst record. That destination will be at risk if they manage to beat the Rockets tomorrow though. A Detroit win would put both teams at 60 losses.
- The Kings beat a tanking Blazers team by 40, and they’re headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2006 after officially clinching a top six spot. With the compact nature of the 4-12 seeds out West, a top three spot shouldn’t be far behind. The only real question here is whether they can pass the Grizzlies for the 2 seed, and it’s not impossible, especially with round two against the Blazers and then a home game against the Spurs up next on the schedule. The Blazers are 1-10 in their last eleven. They played seven guys tonight. Kevin Knox played 39 minutes. Rookie John Butler played 26 minutes. A fun fact about John Butler is that he is 7’1″ and weighs only 175 pounds. Chet Holmgren, for reference, is listed as one inch shorter and twenty pounds heavier. Another fun fact about John Butler is that he’s 3-20 from the field this season. That’s bad. That’s a field goal percentage of 15%.
The worst field goal percentage in NBA history among those who shot at least 20 shots? John Abramovic, who went 1-21 during the 1948 season. Then there’s Bob Dille (nicknamed Oscar?), who took 9.9 shots per game and made just 19.7% of them during the 1947 season. A true chucker who was ahead of his time. Dille played college ball at Valpo, where he was an All-American, and he apparently started there as a 26 year-old with a wife, a kid, and a 48 hours-per-week job. So this man was a husband, a father, a student, an All-American basketball player, and a nine(really seven if he’s working 48)-to-fiver. Anyway, the Blazers are awful and losing on purpose, and they have a pretty good shot at ending up with the league’s fifth-worst record.
- The Suns handled the Timberwolves in KD’s return. The win allows them to keep hold of the 4 seed for another day, and they, like the Clippers, are closing in on one of those top six spots. Hanging on to the 4 seed for home court in the first round will be the goal. The Timberwolves have still won four of five, so losing in Phoenix isn’t the end of the world. They’re where they want to be ahead of the Lakers’ visit tomorrow night. Win that, and you’re in a really good spot with the Trail Blazers and Spurs making up half of their final four games.
NBA record: 207-177-7 ATS, 31-59 ML, 107-86-3 O/U, 1-9 parlay, 0-1 props, -14.09 units
- Bucks -3
- Bucks ML (-150) – TWO UNIT PLAY
CBB record: 253-229-12 ATS, 55-82 ML, 5-5 O/U, 17-25 parlay, -18.53 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: 5-5 ATS, 0-0 ML, 1-0 parlay, +1.1 units
- North Texas ML (+110) – TWO UNIT PLAY
NCAA Tourney record: 16-12 ATS, 6-6 ML, 1-1 O/U, 0-0 parlay, +5.35 units
CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT CHAMP PICKS
Record: 11-21 (10 losses in title game)