Breakfast Special: Get Your Hot Buttered Playoff Scenarios

Well, that’s 1,219 games down in the NBA this season, just 11 to go as we prepare for a wild finish to the season.

Eight teams played their last game Tuesday night. The other 22 play their last game tonight.

And 15 of the 16 playoff participants are decided. Only Detroit and, shockingly, Charlotte are down to the last game to determine who gets the right to get smacked in the face in five by Milwaukee in the first round.

So let’s start there.

The Inexplicable Charlotte Hornets

The Not Cats were left for dead after losing three in a row on a Western Conference road trip; the Lakers, Warriors (who beat them by 47), and Jazz erased any momentum they had after beating Toronto before heading off to the Mountain and Pacific time zones.

Going back further than that, 11 games ago, the Hornets were 31-39.

But they walloped Cleveland 124-97 in Cleveland Tuesday, as they needed to in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.

And thanks to winning the season series with Detroit, if they win at home against an Orlando Magic team playing for a potential 6 seed and the Sixers instead of the Raptors in the first round, Charlotte gets into the playoffs…

…if Detroit manages to honk the game on the road against the Knicks. And if Detroit does that, they deserve to miss the playoffs.

Charlotte’s win over Cleveland was powered by Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb scoring 23 points apiece, but it was also made possible by the Cavs being terrible.

Cleveland got to the line for just eight free throw attempts and hit six, Collin Sexton had 18 points, 10 assists, one rebound, and four turnovers as he completes one of the worst rookie seasons in history, and the Cavs defense was absent from the Q as they surrendered 124 points on 57.7 percent shooting and 22-of-44 for three from the visitors.

The Hornets took just 78 field goal attempts and tried just 17 free throws. And it’s not like the game was turnover-heavy; they had just ten.

This game was played at a 90s throwback 89.8 pace and Charlotte still managed a 138.1 Offensive Rating.

And really, you think Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb are winning more than one playoff game if they even manage that?

Houston Bonks in OKC

The Rockets had a chance to take charge of their own destiny and potentially avoid having to play four road games in Round 2 against the Denver Nuggets.

All they had to do was win in Oklahoma City.

The Rockets did not win in Oklahoma City.

Russell Westbrook had 29 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists, and the Thunder pulled out a 112-111 win on a game-winning three from Paul George, who finished with 27 points but on a horrid 9-of-25.

But then again, if he were 8-of-25, the Thunder would’ve lost. Small things.

James Harden had 39 points on 11-of-28 shooting because refs love him (12-13 FT) but it wasn’t enough.

Here’s your down-the-stretch action:

To Choke Away A Clinch

The Nuggets, meanwhile, could’ve wrapped up the 2 seed had they beaten the Jazz in Utah.

They did not beat the Jazz in Utah.

The men from Salt Lake wrapped up a 50-win season and the 5 seed with a 118-108 win behind 52.6 percent shooting overall, 46 points on 14-of-26 from the field and 13-of-16 from the line from Donovan Mitchell, and 20 points and 10 boards from Rudy Gobert.

Mitchell hit 5-of-8 from long range as well, and as his shooting goes, so goes his team.

Denver now has a game at home against Minnesota on the last day of the season with playoff implications out the wazoo, although this time it’s about the Nuggets claiming the 2 seed with a win (and losing it with a loss) rather than a win-or-go-home fight for the 8 seed like the game was last year.

Highlights not for arachnophobes:

Lightning Round!

Detroit beat Memphis 100-93 at the Hot N’ Ready to finish out their home season and ensure that only the lowly Knicks stand between them and a Central Division throwdown between neighboring states in the first round.

Andre Drummond had 20 points, 17 rebounds, and 5 steals, the Pistons overcame 39.8 percent shooting by winning the turnover battle 21-9, and Memphis only got to attempt 69 shots because that’ll happen when you cough up 21 possessions in a game with a 91.3 pace.

Detroit was down by as many as 22 before they saved their season with great defense:

The Wizards officially wrapped up a 50-loss season at home, dropping to 32-50 by losing to Boston 116-110.

The Celtics ran the Maine Red Claws out there since they had nothing to play forโ€”they couldn’t catch Philadelphia and Indiana can’t catch them.

Terry Rozier had 21 points to lead a Total Team Effort with seven Boston players scoring at least 12 points.

Scary Terry is the man of the match:

Miami may be officially out of the playoffs thanks to tiebreaker rules working against them, but they still thumped the Sixers 122-99 in Dwyane Wade‘s last dance at home.

Wade had 30 points, the Heat clowned HERO OF SERBIA Boban Marjanovic into the worst plus-minus on the Sixers in the game (minus-24?!), and once Boban’s stinking the joint out, you may as well just go home early.

After this message, Republicans now think Rony Seikaly is the greatest player in Heat history.

One last man of the match on his home floor:

The Knicks are 17-64 after beating the Chicago Bulls 96-86 in another 90s throwback night on the hardwood.

They cannot hurt their chances in the draft lottery by beating the Pistons.

Be afraid, Detroit. Be very afraid.

Dennis Smith Jr. had 25 points in the win, Mitchell Robinson had eight points and 17 rebounds, and Luke Kornet blocked six shots in this one:

Highlights? It was a Knicks game with a college score. Instead, memes:

In Minnesota, the worst player of all-time (in terms of performance per dollar, Andrew Wiggins is the worst player of all-time) and the Timberwolves lost to the Raptors 120-100.

Kawhi Leonard had 20 in the win in just 24 minutes as all 13 Raptors players got into the game and shot a combined 52.3 percent.

Minnesota faced the Raptors’ scrub team…and let them shoot more than 50 percent from the field.

Holy 10,000 lakes, Batman, the Wolves are a dumpster fire.

Is Chris Boucher the next Pascal Siakam? Asking for a Canada.

Stephen Curry only played nine minutes and questions will abound in the playoffs about whether his ankles aren’t just going to go full Bluesmobile between now and the Finals, but DeMarcus Cousins had 21 points as the Warriors beat the Pelicans in New Orleans 112-103.

It’s playoff time, and the Dubs are about to morph into their final form.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Highlights from a Dubs dub:

Dirk Nowitzki finally made official what everyone already knew and announced his retirement.

Then he went out and scored 30 points as the Mavericks finished 24-17 at home with a 120-109 win over the Phoenix Suns, ensuring that three teams in the league won’t even get to 20 lousy wins total, home or away.

And in this confluence of old and new, Dirk’s 30 (on 31 shots) was accompanied by Luka Doncic scoring 21 points, grabbing 16 boards, dishing 11 assists, and putting Dirk on notice that he won’t be the greatest foreign-born NBA player of all time forever.

But that’s a debate to be had in 2040 or so.

This is goofy, and we love goofy stuff around here:

And finally, #LOLakers.

Magic Johnson stepped down as president of basketball operations in Los Angeles and the Lakers commemorated the occasion by losing 104-101 to Portland, who clinched the 4 seed (and still have a shot at the 3 seed) in the process.

Maurice Harkless led the way with 26 points, Enes Kanter had 22 points and 16 rebounds, and Damian Lillard scored 20, all in the cause of finding out which Western Conference foe will be a tough out, Utah, San Antonio, or Oklahoma City.

Also, Jemerrio Jones played 46 minutes for the Lakers, which is the most Lakers-in-April story of the decade.

Well, except for this three from the Turk:

The Breakfast Special goes 7 days a week in the first two rounds of the playoffs and the first few games of the conference finals. It’ll be wall-to-wall highlights and analysis.

Tomorrow is the last regular-season edition. Man, it’s gonna be a long, sad summer, huh?

Stay tuned (including for Pacers โ€œTuesdayโ€, which got delayed again because of course it did) and thanks for reading!