Breakfast Special: March Forth, Eastern Conference Confusion

Sunday’s NBA games were a smorgasbord of tanking teams, pretenders losing gimme games to contenders, and two shocking Eastern Conference results that shook up the playoff picture in one heck of a way…

Your New Home-Court Heroes

The Pacers went into Washington, where as the fourth of March opened, Indiana would, if the playoffs started on Sunday, have been playing a Game 7.

The Pacers left Washington in a position where, if the playoffs started on Monday, they would have played a Game 6.

Myles Turner scored 12 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, Victor Oladipo scored 33 points on 11-of-20 shooting, and the Indiana defense forced Bradley Beal into a downright terrible game; Beal had 22 points on 8-of-27 shooting, and his 11 assists were tempered against five turnovers.

Washington put up a monumental fight, hitting 22-of-24 free throws, but between the Pacers hitting ten three-pointers against DC’s eight and committing two fewer turnovers, that was enough to power a close 98-95 win.

Victor Oladipo is the man of the hour:

The Bucks Halt Skid, Smack Sixers

Milwaukee had lost four in a row coming into Sunday against a Philadelphia team that was on a 10-3 stretch in its last 13 games.

Milwaukee left just half a game back for reclaiming sixth place. Their next game is in Indiana, as the East playoff chase heats up big time down the stretch.

Philly scored 43 first-quarter points, built a 20-point lead just 11 minutes into the game, but just eight minutes of game time later, the game was tied.

And after a 33-14 third quarter, the Bucks cruised to a 118-110 win, leading by as many as 14 down the stretch.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 35 to lead the Bucks, Eric Bledsoe added 22, and Philadelphia turned the ball over a shocking 26 times against just 13 for Milwaukee, squandering a 55.7 percent shooting night including 14-of-28 from three-point land.

It was an impressive handing over of the game, but Giannis is the man of the match:

Good Night, Charlotte, But You Dead

The Hornets occasionally get a little feisty on the edge of the standings; indeed, had they done the unlikely in Toronto, it would have put them just half a game shy of Detroit for ninth and 4.5 out of the 8 spot.

Instead, they were all but eliminated 103-98 by the Raptors.

DeMar DeRozan scored 19 points, Jonas Valanciunas had 18 to go with 13 rebounds, and Toronto overcame a poor performance, hitting just 12-of-41 (29.3 percent) of their three-pointers and losing the turnover battle 15-9.

Luckily, Charlotte couldn’t shoot either, and their lousy strategy in which they hit just 5-of-21 from three sank them.

You can’t win modern NBA games without threes. Toronto shot threes. Even if they missed most of them, it was still the winning factor.

Lightning Round!

In the You’re Tanking Wrong sweepstakes, Atlanta beat Phoenix 113-112.

Elfrid Payton had a triple-double for the Suns with 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 14 assists, and T.J. Warren had 35 on 16-of-26.

Highlights, as to lose is to win:

New Orleans shot 53.8 percent from the field and 46.2 from three, easily beating Dallas 126-109 behind 30 points from Jrue Holiday and 23 from Anthony Davis:

The Kings beat the Knicks 102-99, as the defining stat of the night? Sacramento 13-of-30, New York 6-of-21 from three.

Bogdan Bogdanovic had 22 points on 7-of-11 to lead the You’re-Tanking-Wrong Kings to the win.

Highlights:

And finally, the Nets’ pu pu platter put up a horrible by their own standards shooting night; D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe, and Spencer Dinwiddie shot a combined 3-of-23 (13 percent) from the field.

Brooklyn’s backcourt and small ball lineup are atrocious, and it’s hard to see just how they’re supposed to solve the problem, still not in possession of their draft pick until next year and with salary issues to work through besides.

But that’s a story for another day, namely tomorrow, immediately following the Breakfast Special. For now, here’s your highlight reel, in which the Nets are so bad that Austin Rivers beat them:

Stay tuned, and thanks for reading!