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Minggu, 16 Mei 2021

Steph goes WILD with career-first as Lakers face nightmare scenario: NBA Playoff Picture - Fox Sports

The final day of the NBA regular season is upon us with all 30 teams playing and the landscape of the playoff picture is on the line.

The Golden State Warriors are on the verge of setting up an intriguing play-in tournament meeting with defending champions the Los Angeles Lakers.

It comes after Steph Curry heated up with 45 points in a 112-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies to take out the No. 8 seed in the West.

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The Warriors now will face either the Lakers or Trail Blazers in the play-in game.

Dillon Brooks was doing a great job guarding Curry early but the Grizzlies could not stop him from heating up as the Warriors surged home.

The defeat sees Memphis clinch No. 10 seed and they will face the San Antonio Spurs.

Curry on a personal level has clinched the scoring title over Washington’s Bradley Beal, who put up 25 points, leaving the Warriors star needing just three against Memphis to take out the honour.

Andrew Wiggins (21 points and 10 rebounds) also impressed for Golden State while Memphis had all five starters hitting double figures in points but it was all about Steph post-game.

WIZARDS COMPLETE ‘REMARKABLE’ TURNAROUND

At 17-32, the Washington Wizards were far away from being anywhere near the playoff picture.

After a 115-110 win over the Charlotte Hornets, the Wizards have now finished the regular season 17-6 and sealed the No. 8 seed in a stunning turnaround.

The Wizards now face the Boston Celtics in the play-in tournament with the winner to secure No. 7 seed in the playoffs while the loser enters a do-or-die battle to snag the final spot.

Russell Westbrook and Beal have been at the forefront of Washington’s form reversal and the pair proved pivotal once more against Charlotte.

Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook celebrate. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook celebrate. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Westbrook recorded yet another triple-double (25 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists) while Beal had 23 points in his first game since a three-game stint on the sidelines.

Robin Lopez (18 points) and Rui Hachimura (16) supported strongly for the Wizards as the Hornets faltered late after leading 110-109 with just over three minutes remaining.

Charlotte now enter the play-in tournament on a five-game losing skid and will take on the Pacers.

BRISSETT’S CAREER-HIGH NIGHT POWERS PACERS

Speaking of Indiana, Oshae Brissett had a career-best 31 points while Domantas Sabonis recorded a double-double (25 points, 16 rebounds) in a 125-113 win over the Toronto Raptors.

The Pacers were undermanned for the clash, without Malcolm Brogdon, Myles Turner, Aaron Holiday and Edmond Sumner.

It was an all-round impressive performance from Indiana though with Doug McDermott (20 points), Caris LaVert (13), Kelan Martin (13) and T.J. McConnell (12) all hitting double figures.

McConnell also had 17 assists but it was Brissett’s performance that was all the talk in Indiana post-game.

The former Raptor signed two 10-day contracts with Indiana in April before signing on for the rest of the season.

“Just his overall work ethic is what got him here,” Pacers coach Nate Bjorkgren said post-game.

“He’s been a worker his entire life, he plays hard and is going to continue to play hard and keep getting better.”

Malachi Flynn impressed for Toronto with a career-high 27 points while hitting five 3-pointers while Stanley Johnson scored 24 points and DeAndre Bembry had 23.

The Raptors will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2013 but coach Nick Nurse said he was proud of how the team performed in trying circumstances.

“When I look back, there were a lot of difficult things, but I’m actually very proud of how we navigated things,” Nurse said, reflecting on how the team played in Tampa Bay due to COVID restrictions in Canada.

“We were a million miles away roster-wise on some games, but we still found a way to play really well and together.”

Domantas Sabonis and the Pacers toppled the Raptors. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Domantas Sabonis and the Pacers toppled the Raptors. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

BOOKER, PAUL SIT OUT AS SUNS EDGE SPURS

Elsewhere, the Phoenix Suns gave their hopes of securing No. 1 seed in the Western Conference a boost with a 123-121 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

The Suns rested Devin Booker and Chris Paul with E’Twaun Moore stepping up in the star duo’s absence, scoring 22 points and draining a 3-pointer with 2.2 seconds left.

Phoenix will secure top seed in the West if the Utah Jazz lose to the Sacramento Kings.

RANDLE, BARRETT HEAT UP AS KNICKS BEAT CELTICS

The New York Knicks did not rest their stars with Julius Randle and RJ Barrett helping defeat the Boston Celtics 96-92 to clinch No. 4 seed in the East.

Randle (20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists) and Barrett (22 points) led from the front as the Knicks continue to defy expectations.

There were not high hopes for New York in Tom Thibodeau’s first season but now the Knicks are one of the league’s hottest teams entering the playoffs, having won 16 of their last 20 games.

The opposite is true for Boston, who have fallen well short of expectations and now enter the play-in tournament.

Vanessa Bryant's emotional HoF speech
Vanessa Bryant's emotional HoF speech | 01:08

The Celtics kept the game close for the majority of the first half before falling away late in the second quarter to head into the break with a 13-point deficit.

Boston’s second-unit performed admirably but they face a daunting prospect against Beal, Westbrook and the Wizards.

“We have not been perfect,” Brad Stevens said post-game.

“That’s been well-documented. We’ve dealt with a lot of negativity, and we’ve stayed together. I think that’s the most important thing you can do.

“We have to just stay together and reset now, get ready with great preparation tomorrow and play our best that we’ve played this year this week.”

LAKERS, TRAIL BLAZERS FIGHT FOR PLAYOFFS SPOT

Reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers are hoping for direct entry into the playoffs as they take on the New Orleans Pelicans, desperate to avoid the nightmare scenario of a play-in game with Steph’s Warriors.

The Portland Trail Blazers have the advantage in the race for the sixth and final direct playoff spot, and will secure it with a win over the Denver Nuggets.

NBA PLAYOFFS PICTURE

Eastern Conference

1. 76ers

2. Nets or Bucks

3. Nets or Bucks

4. Knicks

5. Hawks

6. Heat

7. Celtics

8. Wizards

9. Pacers

10. Hornets

Explainer: The Nets lead the Bucks by one game and can clinch No. 2 seed with a win over Cleveland. If Brooklyn lose and Milwaukee beat the Bulls, the Bucks would be the No. 2 seed as they have the tiebreaker over the Nets.

Western Conference

1. Jazz or Suns

2. Jazz or Suns

3. Nuggets or Clippers

4. Nuggets or Clippers

5. Mavericks or Trail Blazers

6. Mavericks, Trail Blazers or Lakers

7. Trail Blazers or Lakers

8. Warriors

9. Grizzlies

10. Spurs

Explainer: The most important storyline here is what happens to the Lakers. To be No. 6 seed, the Lakers need to beat the Pelicans and have the Trail Blazers lose to the Nuggets. The Mavericks, meanwhile, sit one game ahead of the Blazers and Lakers. They own the tiebreaker over LA but not over Portland. If the Mavs beat the Timberwolves they will be No. 5 seed. If they lose, Portland win and LA lose, Portland will be No. 5 and Dallas will be No. 6. If Dallas lose and the Blazers and Lakers both win, it would be a three-way tie. In that case, the first tiebreaker is awarded to Dallas as the only division winner. Then the Blazers have the head-to-head over the Lakers and would take the No. 6 seed. Elsewhere, The Jazz hold a one-game lead over the Suns and can clinch the No. 1 seed with a win over Sacramento. If Utah lose though, Phoenix can snatch the No. 1 seed with a victory over San Antonio. The Suns own the tiebreaker.

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2021-05-16 22:17:51Z
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