Happy Friday everybody, and welcome to another edition of Last Night In The NBA where we catch you up on everything that happened from the night before in the Association. If Wednesday night was the night of tanking, last night was 100% the exact opposite. Not only did all 6 matchups consist of at least one playoff team, but 5 of them had playoff seeding implications. If you were looking for a great night of basketball, last night served that purpose and then some. Sounds fun right? Well if you missed anything, here’s what happened
Warriors (57-22) 106 vs Pacers (47-32) 126
Wait what? Let me double check something…..yeah this is weird. The Warriors getting blown out in a game in which Draymond, Durant, and Klay all play at least 29 minutes? When do you see that happen? I know they have nothing to play for but even still what a performance from the Pacers. Any time you can finish with 53/51% splits, make 15 3PM, and turn it over just 12 times, especially against GS, that should be celebrated. Their offense was incredible and was led by Bojan Bogdanovic who went for 28 on an insane 11-13 shooting
I’m sure this is no surprise to Pacers fans who watch every game, but to the casual fan let me tell you that this is the type of player Bojan has been this year. He’s going to change the course of a playoff game this season just you wait. The guy can flat out shoot. Add in a solid 21/6/7/3 from Oladipo and the Pacers are now the only team in the league that can say they’ve swept the Warriors this season. That’s pretty cool.
This game was close for about 12 minutes until IND exploded for a 35 point second quarter and never looked back. This was a big win for them because it still keeps them within an earshot of PHI (1.5) and they close with TOR/CHA/CHA so there’s still a chance. Really that 3 point loss to DEN really hurts, but overall the Pacers are playing great basketball right now, winners of 6 of their last 7.
For GS, I mean like I said this means nothing to them. They’re locked into the 2 seed and while it was surprising to see this team struggle like this, you’d think that in a few weeks their defense will look much much better. Durant led with 27 but he was just 8-23, and overall when you finish with just three guys in double figures, winning on the road can be tough
Wizards (42-37) 115 vs Cavaliers (49-30) 119
You see the problem with the Wizards is they love to run their mouth. They love to talk about how teams like CLE “don’t want to see them in a series” and shit like that. Well I think it’s time someone tell them that everybody thinks they are giant frauds. Blowing a 16 point lead over the final 6 minutes makes it pretty hard to instill fear in potential playoff opponents. They learned that when Lebron wants to flip the switch, he’s going to flip that switch and there’s nothing you can do about it
It’s always fun to see something you’ve never seen before happen, and we’ve never seen Lebron come back from that kind of deficit with so little time left in his career. After blowing their own early lead, that fourth quarter explosion was something serious. As a team this CLE offense is rolling, another 54/48% split night with 10+ made 3PM. Hell, even Jeff Green went for 21 points on 8-10 shooting. What a call by TLue!
It must be nice to be getting players back from injury, first with Cedi
and then with Love as well. Here’s the thing with CLE. We know their defense continues to be at about a 7th grade level, but if they are going to shoot the ball from deep like they have been it’s not going to matter. Especially Kevin Love, I think he came back from his hand injury and is shooting like 95% from deep. That’s what it feels like. Another 4-6 from him last night, he’s now 10-16 over his last 3 games. This now marks 5 wins in a row for CLE, and that’s important because it keeps them in the 3 seed where they would potentially face an injury plagued Celts team if things got that far. You best believe Lebron is going to make sure he keeps the easiest path possible to another Finals.
For WSH, I know if you’re a Wizards fan you’re probably a little bummed given that your team pooped it’s pants. However, there is reason to be positive, mostly because John Wall looked like the old John Wall after a rocky past appearance
To be honest all of the starters played great, with only Beal being under 50% but he went 7-15 for 19/9/8 with just 1 TO so I’d say he gets a pass. The problem was something all too familiar if you’ve watched this team over the years. Poor fourth quarter execution and a bench that didn’t really do much. Kelly Oubre is really really struggling right now, he’s shooting 24/0% from over his last 5 games, four of which have been losses. I know on paper the Wizards look scary, but they haven’t figured it out yet it’s as simple as that. This team in theory should have way too much talent to be a 7/8 seed, but that’s what happens when you lose 3 in a row at the most important time of the year.
Trail Blazers (48-31) 94 vs Rockets (64-15) 96
Even teams that don’t have much to play for, both not only have secured playoff spots but their seeding is pretty much determined (POR has a 2 game lead over UTA with 3 to play), can still have a wildly entertaining game. What made this so exciting was that POR did it without Dame, and CJ shot a brutal 7-25. The fact that the Rockets were up 36-17 after the first quarter and things got this close is a testament to POR. Granted they came up short and didn’t really have an answer for either Paul or Harden
But that’s besides the point. That just goes to show how good HOU is. You could say they were a bit lucky, you know still winning a game in which they only scored 30 points in the second half, but that’s why you can’t ignore their defense. Keeping POR under 100 despite the offensive struggles and then giving your Closer B a chance to win it was pretty exciting. I don’t know the exact number, but I’m pretty sure HOU only has 2 losses on the year when Capela/Harden/Paul all play. It’s now April. That’s crazy.
For POR, look they were close and made something out of nothing so for that I give them credit. Nurkic was efficient with a nice 14/11 on 7-12, and then when it came to the bench Wade Baldwin led the unit with 14 points on 6-10
I will say POR has lost 2 in a row and is just 5-5 over their last 10 so they are in a sense limping into the postseason, but at least they don’t find themselves in that 4-9 seed battle royale so I wouldn’t worry too much about it.
Nets (26-53) 119 vs Bucks (42-37) 111
I love BKN still trying at this point of the season. They have no business playing this way, but anything that hurts Lebron I am in favor for. Their pick is now 7th which is certainly better than I hoped when it looked like BKN couldn’t win a damn game for much of the year. Sometimes you get prayer performances, and I’d say that sums things up nicely for the Nets
54/48% with 19 3PM? Where was this all year?
For MIL, now you see why I think many of the top seeds are not afraid of MIL in the playoffs. Their defense STINKS. And make no mistake, everyone on the Bucks played last night, but this is not a new problem. They are the only playoff team in the East with a negative point differential and that’s going to be their achilles heal. Even when they get great offensive performances from their stars, if you can’t stop the fucking Nets then what are we even doing
As of now this loss has MIL in the 8 spot, but also tied with WSH in terms of record and just 1.0 back of MIA who’s in 6th. Things by no means are set in stone, and it’s going to make for a crazy finish, but that doesn’t excuse the Bucks for being such an underachieving team. I honestly can’t figure it out given the talent on this roster. Very similar to WSH, so it makes sense they are basically in the same boat.
Clippers (42-37) 95 vs Jazz (46-33) 117
It’s not official, but it sure does look like Donovan Mitchell ended the Clippers season last night. He finished with
Between that and the play of guys like Gobert
the starters set the tone and the rest was history. This Jazz team not only has the talent in their starting five, but now that Dante Exum is back, their second unit has some intrigue as well
This win marked the 4th in a row for UTA which is really important because SA is still right there just 1.0 games back of that final top 4 spot. It’s important really for both teams to secure homecourt, because believe it or not both teams are under .500 on the road this season. A matchup between these two would be a pretty interesting series, and I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I think a UTA/HOU series would be a lot tougher than people think. UTA has that same sort of blend of solid defense with an offense that can go off at any time. I’d love to see it.
For LAC, they’re 2 games back of the final playoff spot, so barring a miracle, their push to make the playoffs will fall short. It was a valiant effort, but the shooting just wasn’t there. A total of 9 points from two of their starters, a 5-12 performance from Tobias Harris and a 3-12 from Lou Williams off the bench, the Clippers never really figured out how to score on this Jazz defense.
But don’t be sad Clippers fans, at least Austin Rivers looks like a legit NBA player!
Best of luck in the lottery.
Timberwolves (44-35) 96 vs Nuggets (44-35) 100
The last game of the night probably had the highest stakes of any matchup. DEN in 9th, MIN in 8th both trying to sneak into the playoffs, one team outstanding at home, the other absolute dogshit on the road. What played out was exactly what I was hoping for. This game was close the whole way, and thanks to a VERY IFFY call on KAT in the final moments the Nuggets pulled out the huge win. This was important because they had been 0-2 H2H against MIN, and we all know how important H2H tie breakers are. The Nuggets had 6 players in double figures, and that even included a prayer performance from Devin Harris, who came out of nowhere off the bench with 20 huge points
We certainly can’t forget about the Nuggets best players though, as both Jamal Murray and Jokic were beasts in their own right
DEN is now 30-10 at home this year, and they are a team I wouldn’t hate to see sneak in. This offense is one that has shown they can hang with a GS, and while after some brutal losses to teams like MEM just a few weeks ago gave many the impression they were dead, all of the sudden they’ve won 4 in a row and are right back in it. Here’s the thing though, with a finish of LAC/POR/MIN, if they are going to make the playoffs they sure as shit are going to have to earn it. That’s a brutal closing schedule.
For MIN, look no time to panic…..yet. Despite the loss they are still in the 8th seed and control their own destiny. At worst DEN can just tie the H2H, but MIN owns the better conference and division record. Even with that said, they got boned big time in this game. That 6th foul on KAT was pretty bullshit and I can understand the frustration. I also thought we were going to be getting Jimmy Butler in this game given that he dressed, but that didn’t happen which was sad.
Had KAT not fouled out, something tells me he probably makes a difference, given that he was unstoppable all night
Imagine, he led the team in FGA and it worked out, what a crazy idea! If I had to guess I’d say that MIN fans wanted a little more than the 4-12 performance from Wiggins in such a big game, but instead he was basically a non factor. The Timberwolves had such an advantage inside it made no sense to me why they kept shooting threes, where they were just 6-24 with the bench going a stellar 1-7. Add that with a big time late game turnover from Teague, and the lack of a box out in the final seconds, you could argue that MIN got what it deserved. I’ll tell you what though, the meeting on 4/11 between these two teams is going to be HUGE. Can’t wait.
And that’s it! You’re now all caught up on everything that happened last night in the NBA. We’re back with 10 more games tonight including CLE/PHI, IND/TOR, and MIN/LAL. As always feel free to go live your life this Friday night and check back here tomorrow morning and I’ll fill you in with what you missed.