Indiana Pacers vs. Houston Rockets
The Pacers went on to face the Houston Rockets. T.J. Warren and Russell Westbrook did not play, but the Pacers still hung on to win. Indiana now improves to 44-28, and now has the same record as the Miami Heat.
The Pacers did a good job of controlling the Rockets offense.
Indiana held Houston to their second lowest scoring game in the bubble, limiting them to 104 points. They didn’t give Houston the wide open three pointers that they are used to, as they made just 16 three’s on 57 attempts (28.1%). Focusing on a team’s strength, and limiting it, will help Indiana go farther into the playoffs. Even though Russell Westbrook didn’t play, this is still a quality win for the Pacers. Indiana shot 40% from the field, making quality shots, and being balanced.
Despite being very shorthanded, the rest of the team stepped up.
The Blue and Golf played without leading scorer T.J. Warren, Domantas Sabonis, or Malcolm Brogdon against Houston. Myles Turner and Justin Holiday each had 18 points, Edmond Summer had 17, and Vic Oladipo had 16. They made sure that multiple players got into a rhythm, so that there were no trust issues giving up the ball in a tight game. Myles Turner also had 12 rebounds, and had yet another triple double. This squad as a whole had a productive night, and against a team like Miami in the playoffs, this play needs to repeat.
The final game of the regular season for the Pacers will be a bubble rematch against the Miami Heat. The Heat will be Indiana’s opponent in the first round, so it’ll be a nice taste of what they will get in the future.
The Houston Rockets have locked up a first round matchup against the OKC Thunder. While the Rockets did rest Russell Westbrook, they were still in a very close matchup against the Pacers.
Eric Gordon is back
The Rockets lost Eric Gordon for the majority of the NBA restart because of a sprained ankle. Getting Gordon back would give the Rockets a third scorer that helps take off the huge burden on Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Gordon has come back with 2 games left in the season, and will be trying to recalibrate back into the Rockets lineup. This is huge for the Rockets because if Gordon is not 100% and in sync with the lineup when playoff time comes then they will have a tough time making it out of the first round.
Three point shooting off
The Houston Rocket are unstoppable when their three point shoot is falling, but when it is not they have a lot of problems. Against the Pacers, the Rockets shot 28% from three on 57 shots. Even with a horrible shooting night like the one they had against the Pacers, the Rockets were still able to keep the game within four. This is due to the attention that James Harden attracts, and driving of the ability to rest the Rockets shooters.
The Rockets are playing the 76ers in their next game. Both teams have locked up matchups for the playoffs, and this game holds no implications for the playoffs.
Final Score: IND 108 HOU 104
Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers
The Raptors already clinched the two seed in the East and are now looking to get ready for their matchup vs the Brooklyn Nets. They have had plenty of time to rest and they are in a good position to make a run.
Griffin is the assistant head coach for the Raptors and got to coach in a NBA game when Nick Nurse let him coach. He even got to draw up the game winning play which was blocked but then the ball went to Johnson who put it in. When Griffin was put in the Raptors railed back from down 10 midway through the forth. They pulled within 6 down with 2 minutes to go and eventually got all the way back to win the game. Coach Griffin said he was happy the Nurse gave him a chance and he did a great job.
Chris has suddenly turned himself around and is doing well in back to back games. He scored 25 against the Bucks and now put up 19 against the Sixers in the latest game. He was 4-6 from beyond the arc and also shot above 50% from the field. He was 7-12 from the field and added 9 rebounds to his statline which was impressive. He had great shooting and defending and could be a huge piece in the playoffs if he continues to play like this.
The Raptors are taking on the Nuggets in their next game and with them already knowing their playoff matchup I expect a lot of experimental things.
The 76ers faced off against a stronger Raptors team and lost 125-121. Both teams have secured a playoff spot and are looking to maintain till the playoffs.
The 76ers have already lost Ben Simmons to knee surgery and need Joel Embiid to be in top form to give them a shot to go deep into the playoffs. Embiid has already missed a game due to a left ankle injury and had limited minutes in this game. Team leading scorer Tobias Harris commented that his team has needed to “just be able to adapt” due to injuries. This could prove useful considering the health of big contributors like Embiid and Simmons.
Even with Joel Embiid getting limited minutes, Ben Simmons is out for the season, and Alec Burk out with a left foot soreness the 76ers still lead for most of the game. 6 of the 11 players that suited up scored double-digit points and topped the Raptors in all shooting percentages. This is a positive sign for 76ers fans going into the playoffs. Even with a weakened roster, the 76ers can still produce.
The 76ers will face off against the Houston Rockets on Friday.
Final Score: TOR 125 PHI 121
Miami Heat vs. OKC Thunder
The Heat, like the rest of the Eastern conference teams, already knows their playoff matchups. They have a tune up game with the Indiana Pacers before they play them in their playoff series.
In the first quarter the Heat took a 42-29 lead in the first quarter and had a lot of momentum going into the second before the Thunder slowly started coming back. OKC was only able to get back in the fourth quarter when they outscored the Heat by 19 points. Miami in the first quarter shot 67% from the field and had 42 points in that quarter. In the fourth, they could only put up 15 points which ended up losing them the game.
Herro had a great night for Miami and had another awesome performance coming off the bench. In this game he had 30 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists in his statline. He also made 9 shots from the 16 he attempted which was awesome for him. A great night shooting and something that they will need him to carry going into the playoffs. We have seen glimpses of great shooting from Herro throughout the season, and the past few games he is heating up.
The Heat have their last game of the regular season against the same team they will be playing in the playoffs. I think there will be a lot of experimental things going on in this one so neither team knows what to expect in the playoffs.
Oklahoma City Thunder
OKC is continuing their dark horse mentality into the playoffs after hacing a decent bubble with a lot of their star players playing at a high level. Will they be able to continue this momentum into the playoffs?
OKC played most of their reserves in the second half and they would end up coming up big in the fourth quarter. The Thunder only allowed 15 points in the fourth quarter and just took out the lead that the Heat held for the majority of the game. The only reason the Thunder won the game was a clutch performance from Mike Muscala who hit two big 3s late. His first one tied the game up at 113 with 34 seconds to go. He then knocked down another one to put OKC up 116-115, Herro would then put up a 3 at the buzzer but it didn’t fall giving OKC the dub.
OKC played their starters mostly in the beginning of the game, but still had their stars out there. The biggest thing for OKC is that they got back Steven Adams who battled an injury for a past few games and was finally able to make his return. Unfortunately for the Thunder Lu Dort collided with Jae Crowder hurting his right knee, and was out for the whole game. While he should be fine, it is something all Thunder fans need to watch out for. OKC is rolling right now with their guys all playing well and Dennis Schroder coming back to bubble is another boost.
The Thunder take on the Clippers next in their regular season finale before taking on the Houston Rockets in a best of 7 series. With Westbrook not being able to start the series the Rockets could be in trouble.
Final Score: MIA 115 OKC116
L.A Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets were in this game, fighting to get the two seed in the West. The offense looked somewhat out of rhythm at times, but, ultimately, they just couldn’t contain Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers offense. Jerami Grant had himself a good night, and now the focus gears towards the playoffs for him, and the rest of the Nuggets.
Where was MPJ at?
After consistent and great performances from Michael Porter Jr, we were unable to see the same thing against the Clippers. His jumper was off, and he couldn’t buy a bucket like he did the games before. Porter Jr finished with just 11 points, went 0-4 from beyond the arc, and 4-10 from the field. Now, he will be a big key in the offensive success for Denver, and against big teams like the Clippers, they can’t win if he, or others can’t get going.
Jerami Grant is playing some nice ball.
After coming back from injury, Jerami Grant returned to the court and was looking great. In his last four games, he has scored 22, 18, 21, and 25 points. He will be a solid player in the postseason when they play Utah. Grant averages just over 12 points a game, but he has also been an improved player in the bubble, that not many people have been talking about.
The Nuggets will face the two seed in the East for their final regular season game. Both the Raptors and Denver will likely bench top players, so expect to see a lot of role players in this one.
Los Angeles Clippers
L.A. was coming into this game to take care of business, and that’s it. PG-13 and Kawhi dominated on the offensive end, and the 4th quarter belonged to them. They have secured the two seed and will now face the Dallas Mavericks in the first round.
Lou Williams had a productive game in the bubble.
After a slow start, where he wasn’t able to make many shots, Lou Williams scored 23 points and helped the Clippers grab a victory. He went 8-13 from the field, and shot 33% from beyond the arc. After his absence from the bubble, it will be important that he starts focusing on basketball, and go back to being the best bench player he was. This is a good way to end the season for him, and should give him confidence going into the playoffs.
Great job on both sides of the ball in the 4th.
This game was a close one for a while, but the Clippers performance in the fourth quarter put this game away. They held the Nuggets to just 19 points, and they scored 34. Without this, the game could have been a lot more competitive. This was a great way to end the game, and they will need to have this kind of efficiency for the rest of the year.
The final game of the season will feature the OKC Thunder for the Clippers. The Clippers will be benching most of their starters, so expect to see some young role players get more minutes.
Final Score: LAC 124, DEN 111
Top Photo: nba.com