Nine days left in the regular season and most of the teams in the top nine in the west, other than the Clippers and Pelicans have five games remaining. Of the remaining games, 13 of them pit two of those teams against one another and teams two through six are still separated by only two games. In other words, very little has been decided.
Last night: Nets 106, Blazers 96
The Nets have been playing well, while the Blazers are simply hoping to have a healthy enough team to put up a fight in the playoffs. Playing without three starters and another rotation player off the bench, Portland built an eight-point first quarter lead, but a disastrous second quarter resulted in a 16-point halftime deficit. It never dipped below six points the rest of the way, despite 36 points from Damian Lillard. His counterpart, Deron Williams had 24 points and 10 assists and zero turnovers. Remarkably, none of the Nets starters turned the ball over. Reigning eastern conference player of the week, Brook Lopez had 32 points, his sixth game of 30 or more points in his last 11 games. He definitely got the better of his brother as Robin had just eight points and seven rebounds.
Meyers Leonard, starting for LaMarcus Aldridge (thumb) had a strong game with a career high 15 rebounds to go with 17 points. But he was on the receiving end of this strong dunk from Nets forward Thaddeus Young.
Tonight: Warriors vs Pelicans; Spurs vs Thunder; Lakers vs Clippers
Golden State has already clinched home court advantage throughout the entire playoffs, so with nothing to play for regarding the standings and seedings, hard to say what they throw at the Pelicans. New Orleans, once again controls their own destiny. They won the season series with the Thunder, so if they finish with the same record it’s the Pelicans that will advance. Although if both teams win out and the Mavericks lost all five of their remaining games, then they will both get in. The Mavericks magic number to clinch a playoff spot is one, and all but one of the game left, comes against a non-playoff team. The problem for New Orleans is they haven’t beaten a team ahead of them in the standings in a month (0-4) and four of their five remaining games come against such teams (Warriors, Grizzlies, Rockets, Spurs).
Lately when the Thunder play, it turns into a wild west shootout. Seven times in the Thunder’s last 11 games, they have allowed 115 points, including Sunday’s 115-111 loss to the Rockets. That does bode well for Oklahoma City, who has lost five of six, with San Antonio coming to town. The Spurs have won seven in a row, all by at least 12 points and the first of those seven was a 39-point drubbing of the Thunder.
Some have said the Clippers have a soft finishing schedule. Well this is their second meeting with the Lakers in three days and they still have a game left with Denver – all in their home building. The Clippers stand a good chance of heading into the playoffs on a seven-game winning streak. They also had a seven-game winning streak just before this latest (current) three game winning streak got started.
Here’s the look at the standings and the remaining schedule. Click the graphic to enlarge.
Click here for tiebreaking procedures
NBA Vine of the Night – With a light night in the NBA due to the College basketball championship game, we offer this vine of the night for sad Wisconsin fan (h/t The Cauldron)
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