EFEReading: 5 min.
Teams like Los Angeles Lakers and Chicago Bulls will seek their playoff berth through the ‘play-in’
We had to wait the 82 games of the regular season to define the final balance in the West and this Sunday the Los Angeles Clippers ended the year in fifth place and will face the fourth-placed Phoenix Suns in a vibrant first round of ‘NBA playoffs.
The Clippers’ victory, precisely against the Suns, dropped the Golden State Warriors to sixth place, so the defending champion will play against the Sacramento Kings.
At the ‘play-in’, Los Angeles Lakers they beat the Utah Jazz to finish seventh, then play at home against the Minnesota Timberwolves, who took the eighth seed from the New Orleans Pelicans.
Norman Powell, with 29 points, and Kawhi Leonard and Russell Westbrook, with 25 each, gave the Clippers victory in Phoenix and will face the Suns in the first round, finishing fifth, ahead of the Golden State warriors.
The Suns played without Kevin Durant, Chris Paul or Devin Booker and avoided facing the Warriors, although a high tension first round awaits them against some very competitive Clippers awaiting the recovery of Paul George.
The champions sent a message to the rest of the suitors, protecting their presence in the ‘decisive games‘ with a 56-point victory over the Blazers, with a scoring recital. They shot with a 60% accuracy rate (58 of 96) and connected 27 triples.
Steph Curry scored 25 points, with five triples, and Klay Thompson had 20, with four triples. He also added 25 points, with four triples, coming off the bench.
The Warriors finished sixth and will play the first round of the ‘play-in‘ against the kings.
LeBron James signed a monumental performance, with 36 points, six rebounds, six assists and eight triples, and allowed the Lakers to finish seventh, which will give them the advantage of playing at home against Wolves.
To the angelenos, who will dispute the ‘play-in‘For the second time in three years, after failing to qualify last year, beating Wolves will be enough to gain access to the ‘decisive games‘.
The Wolves won the direct match against the Pelicans and managed to finish eighth, which allows them, a priori, to avoid a round of ‘play-in‘.
The duel was marked by a tough fight between Wolves players in the first half. Frenchman Rudy Gobert punched teammate Kyle Anderson and his team took him to the locker room, without him returning to compete.
After being officially eliminated from the postseason on Friday, in a game in which the board decided to silence its stars, the Mavericks closed a year to forget with a humiliation at home against the Spurs.
The Texans played without Luka Doncic, who was absent from the media for comment on the Mavericks’ failed season. The Slovenian did not comment this Sunday and assured after the game that he is “happy” in Dallas and calmed the rumors about his possible departure.
The Nuggets, already secure at the top of the West, beat the Kings without Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Aaron Gordon.
Bruce Brown, with 21 points, led a group of seven Nuggets in double figures.
Center Kenneth Lofton Jr. signed a double of 42 points and fourteen rebounds, but the Grizzlies, without Ja Morant, Desmond Bane or Jaren Jackson, fell in the Thunder field, in a meaningless game for both franchises.
Tre Mann, with a triple-double of 24 points, twelve rebounds and twelve assists, was the Thunder’s best.
Neither the Celtics nor the Hawks, second and eighth respectively, wanted to risk their stars. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Marcus Smart were absent in Boston, while Atlanta played without Trae Young, Dejounte Murray and Clint Capela, among others.
Faced with these casualties, Payton Pritchard and Sam Hauser organized a triple festival. The first hit nine and the second eight, totaling 25 three-point shots as a team.
Against a starless Bucks, the Raptors triumphed with 23 points and four triples from Gary Trent, in a game in which the Canadians rotated Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet.
Toronto is already thinking about Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Bulls. The Bucks, best team in the NBA (58-24), will face a team from ‘play-in‘.
The Bulls were one of the few franchises that did not rotate their stars and, with DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine in the starting lineup, they triumphed against the Pistons, bottom of the East.
LaVine had 17 points and DeRozan 16 for some Bulls to be played on Wednesday’play-in‘ against the Raptors.
Mikal Bridges joined the small club of players who played in 83 games in an NBA regular season, starting the Brooklyn Nets’ game against the Philadelphia 76ers, in which Joel Embiid and James Harden did not play.
Only 42 players in NBA history have reached that mark, and Bridges did so after playing 56 games with the Phoenix Suns and after playing 27 with the Nets, which he joined in February in a move that brought Kevin Durant to Arizona.
Already out of postseason options, the Pacers won at Madison Square Garden with 26 points from Bennedict Mathurin and a brilliant team 19-of-54 on three-pointers (55.9%).
In the Knicks, rivals of the Cavaliers in the first round of the ‘play-in‘, the best was Obi Toppin, with 34 points and five triples.
Spaniard Ricky Rubio started for the second straight game and added six points, five rebounds and seven assists in 26 minutes in the Cavaliers’ loss to the Hornets.
Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland and Caris LeVert did not play for the Cavs.
The Heat honored Udonis Haslem, its banner and three-time NBA champion, who retires at the age of 42 after twenty years with the franchise. The striker will remain on the team’s coaching staff.
Haslem gave himself a 24-point afternoon with three triples and three rebounds. Jimmy Butler didn’t play, and stars like Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo started but only played a few minutes.
Jabari Smith led a group of seven players with more than ten points with twenty points, in the Rockets’ victory in the field of the Wizards.