Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets 91-105
A routine win for the Nets here against the Bulls, who were without Zach LaVine. The Bulls have already mailed it in this season since they have been out of playoff contention for a couple of days now while the Nets are getting ready for their title charge in the post-season.
Patrick Williams had himself a game yesterday and he showed why the Bulls took him so high in the draft last year. He scored 24 points on the back 64.3% shooting from the field while also grabbing five rebounds and getting two steals. Nikola Vucevic also contributed with yet another double double of 10 points and 11 rebounds, while one of the revelations of the year, Thaddeus Young also got a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. As the season dwindles down the Bulls now have to look forward to the draft and free agency in order to start addressing their problems. They could start with finding a point guard, whether it be through the draft or attempting to make a play for Lonzo Ball.
As far as the Nets go, it seemed like they did not need to come out of first gear as Kevin Durant put up only 12 points, but had an impressive performance on the glass with nine rebounds as well as six assists. Kyrie Irving did not do much else except score 22 points off the back of three triples while the other member of the big three, James Harden had an unlikely performance with just five points, five rebounds, seven assists, a steal and two blocks. Bruce Brown, though, put up a double-double of 16 points, 12 rebounds to go along with three assists and two steals. The Nets already have their sights and mind and hearts in the playoffs and are waiting to see who their first round opponents will be. This team has high aspirations and anything less than a championship will be seen as a failure.
Los Angeles Lakers at Indiana Pacers 122-115
The Lakers rolled up to Indiana with all their guys back. LeBron James returned from nursing that ankle and Dennis Schroder came back out of the health and safety protocols as well as other players as well. They picked up a much important win that keeps them in the running for that sixth seed in the west. Furthermore this loss for the Pacers means that they will most likely not get the eight seed and will have to win two games to make the playoffs unless they win on the final day and the Hornets lose.
On his return, King James had a near triple double with 24 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists. The Lakers need this man healthy to do anything of significance in the playoffs. Even if he is not 100%, LeBron will be the key. The other superstar in town, Anthony Davis, had a double-double of 28 points and 10 rebounds to go along with five assists and two steals. Ever since he returned AD has not looked like himself, but in the last couple of games he has been ramping up and has started to look his normal self. In last year’s title win, AD was arguably the main reason for their victory. This year, they will need him even more as LeBron is also facing injury struggles. Andre Drummond also had a double-double as he had a game-high 15 rebounds to go along with 10 points. The Lakers are starting to get their players back and that can be huge for this late late push to stay out of the play in tournament.
For the Pacers, Caris LeVert had the game of the day with 28 points, five rebounds, 12 assists and two steals. Caris has gone completely under the radar ever since he kicked that tumor’s ass in the earlier of the year. He has come into his own and has continued to be the excellent scorer we know he can be but has also improved his playamaking. Domantas Sabonis sat out today, so Goga Bitadze and Oshae Brissett had to pick up the slack. Goga scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds while blocking four shots! Oshae scored only five points, but grabbed five rebounds and stole the ball once TJ McConnell had yet another solid game off the bench with eight points, six rebounds, and nine assists. Am I crazy to think that TJ has a case for Sixth Man of the Year?
Charlotte Hornets at New York Knicks 109-118
After leading by as much as 18 in the second quarter, the Knicks managed to squander the lead and find themselves in an overtime confrontation against the Hornets, but ultimately showed up like a different team in overtime and took care of business as their hopes for the fourth seed remain high.
Starting with the Hornets, rookie sensation LaMelo Ball scored eight points and had four dimes as well as three rebounds in just 20 minutes of action as he did sit out the fourth quarter and overtime. It seemed like his right wrist and right upper leg were having him in discomfort. Miles Bridges was the man of the hour for Charlotte. In his first game back from health and safety protocols, he came off the bench and scored 30 points, grabbed five rebounds, and had four dimes with a steal. Devonte’ Graham also caught fire during a few spurts and ended with 25 points and eight assists while Cody Zeller and Jalen McDaniels both posted double-doubles. Cody with 10 points and 11 rebounds, while Jalen had 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Hornets have now put themselves in a good spot to claim the eighth seed and avoid having to win twice to get into the playoffs. They hold the tiebreaker over Indiana so their game against the Wizards on the final day of the season is massive as Indiana faces off against Toronto.
The king of New York, Julius Randle had another game that just proved that he should be in serious consideration for that first All-NBA team! He had a triple-double of 33 points, 10 rebounds, and 13 assists. Julius continues to show his all around improvement and continues to drag along the Knicks with him to victory after victory. Reggie Bullock started off the game spitting fire with three quick triples, but ended the game with 17 points and six rebounds, while Nerlens Noel showed once again why opposition players should think twice before trying him at the rim. The man had five blocks and most of them were in quick succession denying the likes of LaMelo. He also grabbed 11 rebounds and had two steals to cap off a solid night. Three players from the Knick bench scored in double digits, Alec Burks (14), Immanuel Quickley (13), and Derrick Rose (15) of course. Bench play will be incredibly important for New York moving forward and especially the guards from it as I don’t see Elfrid Payton getting out of the rotation sadly.
Boston Celtics at Minnesota Timberwolves 124-108
A much needed win for the Celtics after four losses to teams like the Bulls and the Cavs. This win was a necessity for the Celtics as they move into the rhythm of the play-in tournament.
Jayson Tatum led the way with a double-double of 26 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 38.1% from the field. Moving forward, Tatum will have to backpack even more, especially in the play-in game, if the Celtics want to be in the playoffs. He is the best player on this team and, now with no Jaylen Brown to rely on, he will have be the one to take the shots that matter. Luke Kornet started and played 30 minutes and scored in double digits, grabbed six rebounds, dished out three assists, and blocked four shots. Evan Fournier was a necessary scoring punch as he chipped in with 18 points and six assists while Grant Williams contributed with 11 points, six rebounds, and two assists. The Celtics will either face the Hornets or the Pacers in the play in so one thing is certain, they will have their work cut out for them.
Karl-Anthony Towns scored the team high for the T-Wolves of 24 points and also grabbed 14 rebounds on 47.4% shooting from the field. Anthony Edwards continued to make a late push for that Rookie of the Year but it is too little too late. But credit where credit is due, as he has been fantastic. Yesterday, he scored 23 points, hauled in four rebounds, had six dimes, and stole the ball three times. Another all-around good performance. The T-Wolves are another team that are already done with the season and are looking forward to the draft. If that goes well for them, they could be a team to watch next season.
Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs 140-103
What a blowout win for CP3 and company. Both teams have already secured their spot in the post-season (Phoenix in the playoffs & San Antonio in the play-in) so this game would not change much, but it still remains a massive confidence booster for the Suns, although players like Dejounte Murray and DeMar DeRozan were held out.
Devin Booker nearly scored 30 but ended up finishing with 27 points, two rebounds, and four assists. D-Book will play a massive role in the Sun’s push in the playoffs. He is one of the best scorers in the league so he will have to be on top of his game in order for the Suns to do anything groundbreaking. Dario Saric filled in for DeAndre Ayton who sat out with left knee soreness. Dario scored 13 points, grabbed six rebounds and had two steals. The Point God, Chris Paul posted a double double of 16 points and 10 assists, but also rebounded the ball five times and had one steal. I think it is safe to say that this team may only go as far as Chris Paul takes them.
As for the play in bound Spurs, Keldon Johnson had the game high 18 points and grabbed two rebounds but did not do much else. Lonnie Walker IV had an absolute nightmare night, scoring no points and going 0-9 from the field while rookie Devin Vassell made the most of his 33 minutes of action and scored14 points, hauled in seven rebounds, dished out four assists, and had one steal. Vassell may be a quality late pick for next year as his skillset can translate well since as we can see he can get busy on the glass but is also a really good defender. Drew Eubanks had a solid night with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and a steal. Eubanks has been a really nice find and has carved himself a nice role in the Spurs rotation as the backup 5. He, too, is also another player to keep an eye on next season as well.
Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks 108-122
The Bucks handed the fourth seed to the New York Knicks on a silver platter as long as they defeat the Boston Celtics on the final day of the season. With this loss the Heat will probably no longer be able to get the fourth seed and the Bucks remain in the hunt for the two seed, although unlikely.
The Heat struggled without Jimmy Butler and it was evident in most of the performances. Bam Adebayo had a really underwhelming night with just five points on 22.2% shooting from the field. He did get a solid eight rebounds and eight assists as well as two steals. Bam may be a rising superstar, yes a superstar, but he is not just there yet. The Heat seem to need Jimmy and that was also evident at the beginning of the season when he missed a good chunk of games battling Covid-19. Kendrick Nunn, though, did all he could from the point guard spot scoring 31 points, grabbing six rebounds, and handing out three assists. Nunn has had games like this before where he can just explode for 30, but his scoring has to become more consistent. Duncan Robinson had a Duncan Robinson night, scoring 17 points and handing out two assists while draining five triples. The Heat now will most likely face the Bucks in the first round a rematch of the series last year in the playoffs.
Two time MVP and also current MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo did not have one of his best showings but he was still solid with 15 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and a block. Jrue Holiday, a man who should be in some Defensive Player of the Year conversations, impressed tonight with a double-double of 20 points and 10 assists that went along with five rebounds and a steal. Jrue may as well be the key for this Bucks team. The link that they seemed to miss last year against Miami. Brook Lopez also had a solid night with 18 points and six rebounds, while Bryn Forbes had a surprising performance off the bench scoring 21 points off the back of five triples. Khris Middleton had a near triple-double with 21 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. This year may be the year where the Bucks can take the next step because of things like the addition of Jrue Holiday, but then again they have never proved themselves before…