The playoff race is tied to these final three games and for some teams tonight’s games might of meant the end of their playoff hopes or the final game they needed to win for them to clinch their playoff hopes!
The heat brought it to the Raptors in hopes of making the playoffs but fell short in over time! Both the Nets and Magic clinched the playoffs with their win tonight and the Warriors have locked the 1st seed in the West. The Lakers somehow beat the Jazz and the Knicks who have clichéd the worst record in the NBA decided to win one game!
All that and more, as always SportsTips.com has got you covered on the 5 best and most important games and the talking points behind them!
Toronto Raptors vs Miami Heat
This game had one of the earliest start games in the NBA season with the two teams tipping off in the morning in Toronto but boy did it live up to the hype! The Miami Heat have the hardest final run and the Raptors were one of the three teams they needed to vanquish to secure their spot in the playoffs.
The Heat came in strong in the first half, leading the game by 7 points. They were sitting 1 game behind the Pistons, 1 game in front of the Hornets and 2 behind the Magic and Nets, who were all playing later in the afternoon as well. They received solid contributions from D. Wade, Winslow, Waiters and Whiteside all through-out it.
Unfortunately for the Heat, the Raptors at home is a tough ask especially when they had their full squad ready and looked to be preparing themselves for the playoffs coming up. The Heat couldn’t stop the barrage of threes coming down from Siakam, Green and Powell who cut the lead down and forced the over-time. Bam Adebayo had a last second shot waved off that would of won them the game but after that mis-hap and the tired veteran legs of the Heat, the Raptors cruised through 14 – 6 in overtime to secure the win.
Raptors Win 117 – 109
Top Scorer: TIED – Norman Powell & Pascal Siakam – 23 Points
Top Assists: Marc Gasol – 7 Assists
Top Rebounds: Bam Adebayo – 13 Rebounds
Minnesota Timberwolves vs Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder are in a tight race with the Spurs and Clippers who are now all on 47 wins on the sixth and seventh seed. None of these teams want to face the Warriors in the first round, and every game from now is still extremely crucial for all these three teams.
The Oklahoma City Thunder seems to have tightened the ship lately after some disappointing losses but survived a scare in the 3rd quarter today to stave off the Timberwolves in Minnesota. The Timberwolves played extremely well missing key players of their line-up. Saric has been great after being moved into the starting line-up, he scored 23 important points tonight that kept the Timberwolves close.
Westbrook’s triple double and some key scoring from Paul George and Schroder in the final quarter helped them secure the win to ensure they’re not the unfortunate team who faces the warriors in the 1st round.
Thunder Win 132 – 126
Top Scorer: Karl Anthony Towns – 35 Points
Top Assists: Russell Westbrook – 15 Assists
Top Rebounds: Russell Westbrook – 10 Rebounds
Detroit Pistons vs Charlotte Hornets
This was a big win for the Hornets in their playoff hopes and a big loss for the Pistons for theirs. They’ve lost 4 games in a row now, meanwhile the Hornet’s win today secures them back to back big wins (they beat the Raptors last time out).
The Pistons had no real excuse this time out, they both had a full strength team. In terms of Superstar performance though, Blake Griffin was a no show while Kemba carried his team onto two big wins now.
For the Pistons it was the same old mistakes of bad shots leading to easy fast break points. Blake shot 5 – 18 and 2 – 11 from three point land. He was playing extremely soft and reluctant to drive himself to the hoop with easy lay ups, the complete opposite of Kemba who shot 11-29 and was rewarded with 7 free throws.
The Pistons fortunately have the easiest last 2 games of the Heat, Hornets and themselves with a game to the Grizzlies and Knicks but anything can still happen in those two games. Currently we have the Hornets to be our favourite to make the playoffs, but the Pistons will clinch it with a win against the Grizzlies.
Hornets Win 104 – 91
Top Scorer: Kemba Walker – 31 Points
Top Assists: Kemba Walker – 7 Assists
Top Rebounds: Andre Drummond – 23 Rebounds
Brooklyn Nets vs Indiana Pacers
The Brooklyn Nets have done it, they’ve clinched their first playoff appearance since 2015 after not receiving any draft picks since then. GM Sean Marks secured some key trades for them that have basically secured them for the future with D’Angelo Russell and boy did he play to win tonight!
The Pacers are on a bad down turn, and it’s not a great look for them heading in to the playoffs, they’ve essentially secured the 5th seed and will be facing the Celtics without home court and Oladipo. Teams have started to figure out Bogdanovic, by limiting his scoring opportunities, the Pacers require their other players to step up which doesn’t happen very often. Wesley Matthews scored a shocking 3 points and the highest scoring Pacer was their bench center in Sabonis. Compare this to the 5 Nets player who scored in double digits, they lack the offensive power to compete with most teams.
Nets Win 108 – 96
Top Scorer: D’Angelo Russell – 20 Points
Top Assists: Aaron Holiday – 7 Assists
Top Rebounds: Domantas Sabonis – 12 Rebounds
Orlando Magic vs Boston Celtics
The Magic have also clinched the playoffs and they did it in style! Topping the star studded Boston Celtics team who played with a full squad, AT HOME! The Celtics are still not looking as great they were touted to be especially losing to the Magic at home.
The Magic team is hot, was hot and still is hot these past couple of games. They’ve come back from a demolition of the Atlanta Hawks and took that form to Boston to flex their potential for the playoffs. The Magic had 3 players scoring 20+ points in Vucevic, Fournier and Terrence Ross. The Celtics definitely lost this on the defensive end as the Magic was scoring from both inside and outside the paint. Al Horford was no match for Vucevic who was bodying him down low all night.
Magic Win 116 – 108
Top Scorer: Terrence Ross – 26 Points
Top Assists: D.J. Augustin – 13 Assists
Top Rebounds: Nikola Vucevic – 12 Rebounds
San Antonio Spurs Defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 112 – 90
Top Scorer: LaMarcus Aldridge 18 Points, Brandon Knight & Colin Sexton 16 Points.
Dallas Mavericks Defeat the Memphis Grizzlies 129 – 127
Top Scorer: Trey Burke 24 Points, Jrue Holiday 30 Points
Houston Rockets Defeat the Phoenix Suns 149 – 113
Top Scorer: James Harden 30 Points, Jamal Crawford 27 Points
Milwaukee Bucks Defeat the Atlanta Hawks 115 – 107
Top Scorer: Giannis Antetonkoumpo 30 Points, Alex Len 33 Points
New York Knicks Defeat the Washington Wizards 113 – 110
Top Scorer: Mario Hezonja 30 Points, Jeff Green 19 Points
Golden State Warriors Defeat the Los Angeles Clippers 131 – 104
Top Scorer: Stephen Curry 27 Points, Landry Shamet 17 Points
Portland Trailblazers Defeat the Denver Nuggets 115 – 108
Top Scorer: Damian Lillard 30 Points, Gary Harris 18 Points
New Orleans Pelicans Defeat the Sacramento Kings 133 – 129
Top Scorer: Ian Clark 31 Points, Harrison Barnes 29 Points
Los Angeles Lakers defeat the Utah Jazz 113 – 109
Top Scorer: Kentavious Caldwell Pope 32 Points, Rudy Gobert 19 Points
Player of the night: Nikola Vucevic
Best team performance: Brooklyn Nets
Most disappointing team performance: Utah Jazz