Last night was a chance to say goodbye to NBA yesterdays before looking ahead to the playoffs and two months of NBA tomorrows.
Dirk Nowitzki played his last game with his career ending as it always seemed to go when he played—getting outclassed by the San Antonio Spurs.
An era of NBA basketball is over. Some on Twitter are wondering where we go from here.
Regular readers of Pace and Space already know the answer to that. I post it five days a week during the regular season and seven—yes, SEVEN—days a week during the part of the playoffs where there’s games every day. Weekend breakfast is coming!
One Last Dance
Wade’s triple-double came as Miami got smoked by Brooklyn 113-94, the Nets focused on winning the game and securing a 6 seed rather than putting on a show for one player.
D’Angelo Russell set game highs with 21 points and a plus-27 on 7-of-11 from three-point land. Shabazz Napier had 20 off the bench. And even though the Nets were bad from the field (37.7 percent FG, 36.2 percent 3PT), Miami was worse (38.8/19.5), and the Nets hit 21-of-58 from three while the Heat were just 8-of-41.
And of course Udonis Haslem hit the shot to give D-Wade the triple-double. Of course.
Seriously. Who better to give @DwyaneWade his 10th assist to lock down a triple-double in his final game?
Can't make this stuff up… pic.twitter.com/0ZrO3nXtbq
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 11, 2019
Detroit was in Not Messing Around mode. They needed to beat the Knicks to make the playoffs.
They beat the Knicks 115-89 in a game where the score after three quarters was 92-59 and the Pistons never trailed—the game was tied at 0-0 and 2-2 and the Pistons were otherwise ahead for the entire game.
Detroit was up double digits every minute from 2:09 of the first quarter onward.
They led by at least 20 for the entire rest of the game after 5:04 of the second quarter.
That is how you make the playoffs.
It’s not going to matter when the Bucks sweep them, but it was a heck of a way to get into the dance.
The night wouldn't be complete with a look at how we punched our playoff ticket.
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) April 11, 2019
A Wasted Playoff Opportunity
The Portland Trail Blazers spoiled a good rematch by beating the Sacramento Kings 136-131 in the final game of the season.
Not because they had anything against Sacramento, mind. Any rivalry between those two cities hasn’t mattered since it was for the right to get screwed by the refs against the Lakers in the playoffs during the Dark Ages.
No, because Portland winning, and claiming the 3 seed, means the Rockets will end up getting the Warriors in the second round rather than the conference finals, and that’s just too early for the playoffs to shoot its wad.
Portland came storming back, outscoring Sacramento 38-18 in the fourth quarter to turn a 15-point deficit into a five-point win.
Skal Labissiere had 29 points. Anfernee Simons had 37 to lead the Blazers. Only six guys even got into the game, as coach Terry Stotts was so committed to resting up for the playoffs that he handed out seven DNP-CDs. Jake Layman, Simons, and Gary Trent Jr. all played 48 minutes.
And the Blazers won. Dear gods, what a wacky game.
Zach Collins played 13 minutes off the bench and scored 13 points, and just because tired is for weirdos, the Blazers shot 58.2 percent from the field and 58.3 percent from three.
Welcome to One-Hit Wonders, Breakfast Edition (also known as the Andre Ingram Award)
Rookie @AnferneeSimons 37 PTS are tied for the most by any player in his first career start since the 1985-86 season!
📊 48 MINS, 37 PTS (7-11 3PT), 9 AST, 6 REB,
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) April 11, 2019
OK, let’s quicken the pace up for the…
Kyle O’Quinn got ejected because it’s not 48 minutes of garbage time until KOQ gets a red card, and the Pacers even showed off that curious penchant they have for being complete garbage defensively any time Myles Turner doesn’t play.
Like we needed more proof that Turner is Defensive Player of the Year.
Sumner hit the game-winning free throws, and how can you not love every single thing about this group of guys as a team?
Edmond Sumner after hitting the game-winning free throws: "I learned from my vets. They encouraged me in the huddle. I just wanted to go out there and show what I can do."#Pacers | @Pacers pic.twitter.com/utasEffV1B
— FOX Sports Indiana (@FSIndiana) April 11, 2019
The Orlando Magic beat the Charlotte Hornets 122-114, rendering the Pistons game meaningless (so #LOLKnicks), as Aaron Gordon poured in 27 points to pace the starters on the 7 seed to their first playoff appearance since Dwight Howard left.
Terrence Ross had 35 points off the bench on 12-of-19 shooting as well, and this team looks…not at all frisky as they’ll probably get swept by the Raptors.
Kemba Walker had 43 points, as he always does when the clutch never enters into it. He’s like a baseball player who hits 50 home runs and zero walk-offs.
— NBA (@NBA) April 11, 2019
HERO OF SERBIA got the start for the Sixers, and Boban Marjanovic made it count, scoring 18 points, grabbing eight rebounds, dishing six assists, and blocking two shots in just 25 minutes.
Boban finishes the regular season with a 24.25 PER, 12th in the NBA, a 0.7 VORP, and a .212 WS/48 that means that if you had a team of nothing but Bobans, your win expectation would be 82-0.
BOBAN FOR HALL OF FAME.
Oh yeah, and the Sixers beat the Bulls 125-109.
Your man of the match and (say it with me one more time) HERO! OF! SERBIA!
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) April 11, 2019
Clearly this means the Warriors are doomed and will lose to the Clippers in the first round. Count it.
Fishing for highlights with the sponsor on this one:
— Memphis Grizzlies (@memgrizz) April 11, 2019
Speaking of the Clippers, they look ready to stomp the Warriors after beating the Jazz 143-137 to set the 8th-best record in the West at 48-34.
Meanwhile, Seventh Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell had 24, while Ivica Zubac (who should absolutely be on the same team as Boban in a center rotation) had 22 on 10-of-13 to go with 11 rebounds in 30 minutes.
Oh me, oh my, we don’t get Ralph Lawler’s golden voice on Clips broadcasts anymore. You were always the first to 100 points, Ralph.
.@MONSTATREZZ left his mark on the regular season finale.
📊 24 PTS | 7 REB | 5 AST pic.twitter.com/xJQhuJyPDt
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) April 11, 2019
Oklahoma City had something to play for in terms of seeding (and they grabbed the 6 seed.)
So of course the Thunder won 127-116.
Russell Westbrook had 15 points, 11 rebounds, 17 assists, and even shot an efficient 7-of-10.
But it was Dennis Schroder whose 32 points led the way:
— NBA TV (@NBATV) April 11, 2019
I mentioned Dirk up top; he had 20 points and 10 rebounds in his last game as a pro, but the Mavs lost to the Spurs 105-94 as San Antonio locked up the 7 seed.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the Spurs with 34 points on 15-of-21 shooting and added 16 rebounds.
Watch the tribute video that brought a tear to Dirk’s eye…
— SportsDay Mavs (@dmn_mavericks) April 11, 2019
And finally, the Nuggets got a measure of revenge for last year and locked up the 2 seed with a 99-95 win over the Timberwolves.
Nikola Jokic had 29 points and 14 rebounds, Minnesota shot just six free throws (making four), and the Nuggets won this one behind a dominant performance on the boards, outrebounding Minnesota 53-41.
Nuggs-Spurs is going to be one heck of a first round matchup.
How about a 15-0 run to end the game? Minnesota went home early…just like the franchise’s playoff hopes.
— NBA (@NBA) April 11, 2019
Between now and tipoff for the playoffs, we’ve got a Pacers postmortem, two Is He Any Good pieces about the MVP race, and the first weekday without a Breakfast Special since All-Star week.
But after that, we’re in full playoff mode, so let the games begin! Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!