Breakfast Special: No Fools in the Eastern Conference

The race between the Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers, and Cleveland Cavaliers for the 3, 4, and 5 seeds has been everything you want a playoff chase to be. Teams are going on winning streaks and gaining no ground because their opponents are keeping pace with them every step of the way.

Two of the teams are teams on the rise, one coming out of nowhere, the other a realization of the possibilities of long periods of nonstop losing.

Another is a team on the ropes, declining in fortune, kept alive only because its star is having one of the best seasons of a 15-year career, singlehandedly willing a G-League team to a home playoff series.

And speaking of LeBron…

Cleveland Handles the Bad Guys

The Cavs beat the Mavs 98-87 in Cleveland, making a bit of a meal of it when they trailed 77-73 after three quarters but ripping the heart out of Dallas with a 25-10 fourth-quarter masterpiece.

LeBron James had a triple-double, but it was one of the worst such performances he’s ever put up; his 16 points came on 5-of-21 shooting. Sure, he had 13 rebounds and 12 assists and only committed two turnovers, but for quite awhile he was pretending to be J.R. Smith out there.

That’s actually not fair to Smith, who was 6-of-11 in getting 15 points of his own.

Harrison Barnes had 30 points for Dallas, but the rest of the team did jack.

Cleveland shot just 41.2 percent overall, but they hit 42.6 percent of their three-pointers (11-of-26) and that proved decisive.

Well, that, and killing Dallas on the boards 50-38.

LeBron gets man of the match for the triple-double:

Here They Come

The Sixers are up to ten straight wins, this time traveling to Charlotte and kicking the Hornets clean in the teeth.

The 119-102 win was powered by Ben Simmons doing Rookie of the Year things, scoring 20 points on 10-of-17 shooting, dishing 15 assists, and grabbing eight boards.

J.J. Redick got his points three at a time, matching Simmons with 20 by hitting 5-of-8 from three.

And Charlotte just rolled over and died, hitting just 40.2 percent of their shots in a game Philly hit 51.1 percent of theirs.

Oh, and Marco Belinelli had 22 off the bench for the Sixers on 9-of-10 shooting and posted a plus-23 in 31 minutes as the sixth man.

Simmons is the man of the match:

Right Where They Wanted Them

The Pacers went to Los Angeles and beat the Clippers 111-104.

The kicker was that Indiana got down 16 points midway through the second quarter, trailing 47-31…then went on a 19-4 run to close out the first half down just 51-50.

Indiana grabbed the lead midway through the third quarter, got back behind, then rallied back in the fourth to close it out.

Victor Oladipo had 30 points, 12 assists, and five steals, becoming one of two players this season (James Harden is the other) to post a 30/10/5 in those three stats.

Oh, and Thaddeus Young managed to score just eight points on 4-of-12 shooting but ended up plus-25 during his 39 minutes. Indiana was minus-18 in just nine minutes without him.

Also, Myles Turner finally woke up and scored 24 points while grabbing eight rebounds, holding his own down low against the likes of DeAndre Jordan.

The Clippers’ bench went 17-of-26, nearly winning the game by themselves, mostly during that second quarter run, but they couldn’t play the whole game.

In a day of stars, Oladipo held his own:

Lightning Round!

San Antonio put Houston on notice for the second round of the playoffs should the Spurs end up fourth. James Harden had 25 points, Eric Gordon had 18, but the Spurs defense held Houston to just 7-of-31 shooting from three, completely negating Houston’s strength in destroying them 100-83.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 23 points without attempting a three, hitting 11-of-19 mostly from the midrange.

But it was Rudy Gay‘s 21 that earned man of the match honors:

Washington celebrated clinching a playoff berth with a home win over Charlotte by traveling to Chicago and completely pooping themselves on the court.

John Wall, who came back Saturday for the win, wasn’t in the SEGABABA, and Bradley Beal‘s 5-of-17 wasn’t cutting it in a 113-94 Bulls win powered by 23 from Lauri Markkanen and a sweet 18-of-34 three-point night:

Atlanta beat Orlando 94-88 because someone had to win.

You’re tanking wrong, Hawks:

Detroit simply refuses to die. They have the tiebreaker with Milwaukee, and their constant winning is electric with the waiting for the Bucks to choke optimism of it.

Sure, the Bucks’ magic number is just two, but Detroit’s not giving them the pleasure.

Reggie Jackson had 29 in the 108-96 win over the Nets, a game where the Pistons won the battle on the boards 53-40:

Oklahoma City finally got a superstar game from Russell Westbrook, who notched 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting, added 15 boards and 13 assists, is averaging 25.4 points, 10.2 assists, and 9.8 rebounds the year after averaging a triple-double, and powered a 109-104 win over New Orleans that kept the Thunder in fifth in the crowded West playoff chase:

Utah just thrashed Minnesota 121-97, claiming sixth place and dropping the Wolves into seventh (with the Pelicans eighth; Denver and the Clippers are 9-10 and the Spurs are fourth.)

Ricky Rubio and Donovan Mitchell, two absolutely terrible shooters most of the time, shot a combined 19-of-29 (65.5 percent) as the Jazz as a team shot an insane 60.5 percent overall.

Rubio’s the man of the match:

The Bucks continue to find a way to lose, choking away a 13-point lead through three quarters.

Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo both fouled out, while the Nuggets rode a 35-point game from Nikola Jokic, 26 from Paul Millsap, and 27 from Jamal Murray to the 128-125 overtime win:

Golden State’s got three of their Big 4 back, and three was enough when the opponent was the Suns.

The Warriors got 29 points from Kevin Durant, 23 from Klay Thompson, and a 117-107 win for their trouble:

Portland got embarrassed against Memphis last week.

On their home floor, they showed the world they’re not going to choke again, winning 113-98 behind 27 points from Damian Lillard and 20 from C.J. McCollum:

And finally, the Kings completed the ruining of Los Angeles’s day, beating the Lakers 84-83 at Staples Center and treating the good people of Southern California to two basketball losses in the same building on the same day.

Buddy Hield led the Kings off the bench with 19, the Lakers shot a horrendous .400/.219/.640, and if the Kings could make a free throw (they hit just 50 percent), they might’ve won this by more.

De’Aaron Fox‘s clutch bucket down the stretch sealed the win:

26 teams played on Easter Sunday. Nobody plays Monday, as the NBA takes a day off to yield the spotlight to the college game.

So there’s no Breakfast Special on Tuesday, but we’ll have plenty of good stuff for you early in this week, with Pacers Tuesday and that promised piece about the G-League. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!