Breakfast Special: Playing Out the String

Man, what a day in the NBA Sunday.

Games between two teams set to make the playoffs: Zero.

Games between a playoff team and a non-playoff team: Six (out of seven)

Games in which the playoff team won: Five.

So I guess that means our top story is…

Nice Upset, Atlanta!

The Hawks beat the Maine Red Claws…er, the Boston Celtics, in a game where the Hawks actually had more to gain by losing than by winning.

Losing outright would’ve kept them on 23 wins and kept them alive for the second position in the lottery.

As it stands, they’ve got 24 wins and are in a three-way tie for third-fewest wins in the Tank Race. We’ll get to an “inspirational” story about that in a minute, but…

How about Taurean Prince, who shot 12-of-17, scored 33 points to lead eight Hawks with at least eight points, and powered the 112-106 win on the road in Boston?

The Celtics shot 51.2 percent from the field but got flat-out beat on the three-point arc, with Atlanta making 15 threes to Boston’s nine. Throw in a wretched 65 percent shooting night at the line for the C’s, and that’s how losing to one of the worst teams in the league at home happens.

Terry Rozier flirted with a triple-double (10 points, eight boards, nine assists), Jayson Tatum had 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting, but the Hawks and Prince were just too much:

Congratulations, Phoenix! “We’re Number 30!”

The Suns lost their 61st game, dropping to 20-61 and ensuring they clinch the worst overall record. In the last season in which the lottery’s stacked for tanking, the Suns trusted the process and stunk out the joint so hard that you need a gas mask in Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Klay Thompson lit it up for Dub Nation, scoring 34 points, while the Warriors shot 52.2 percent overall and 58.6 percent on two-pointers; the Dubs lead the league in two-point field-goal percentage this season, shooting twos so efficiently that they’re nearly as efficient on deuces (56.3 percent) as they are in terms of eFG% on threes (58.8, as they lead the league with a team three-point percentage of 39.2.)

If they get Stephen Curry healthy in the second round, look out. Because Quinn Cook is no Stephen Curry.

Thompson’s 22 in the first quarter alone led all scorers for the game, as he came out like “Warriors, come out to pla-ay!”

A Bizarre Statistical Oddity In Memphis

The Grizzlies are one loss away from clinching the 2 spot in the draft lottery, but they didn’t get it against Detroit.

The Pistons had one of the weirdest stat lines as a team I’ve ever seen:

3-point shots: 23-of-47 (48.9 percent)
2-point shots: 15-of-46 (32.6 percent)
1-point shots: 18-of-23 (78.3 percent)

They made more threes than twos on nearly the same number of attempts. They made more free throws than two-point shots. And they missed 67.4 percent…of two-point shots.

Oh, and they lost to Memphis 130-117, because the Grizzlies shot like this:

3-point shots: 16-of-33 (48.5 percent)
2-point shots: 32-of-50 (64.0 percent)
1-point shots: 18-of-24 (75.0 percent)

A game in 2018 decided by a preponderance of two-point baskets. What the hell, Detroit?

Oh, you want highlights? Will this do?

Two points.

Lightning Round!

Lance Stephenson missing out on a triple-double because he had ten rebounds and ten assists and tried desperately to score the last two points but kept missing, ending up with eight points on 3-of-13 shooting…and he didn’t shoot the Pacers out of the game because Indiana won anyway over Charlotte 123-117?

That is the most Lance thing to happen in a season full of Lance things.

Here is Domantas Sabonis scoring 30 points because he should be the starting center and Myles Turner doing absolutely nothing in seven minutes but grabbing one rebound and committing four fouls meant Sabonis played starter’s minutes:

Philadelphia solidified its hold on the 3 seed and won their 50th game behind 16 points, seven rebounds, and nine assists from Magic Johnson 2.0…er, Ben Simmons, as they beat Dallas 109-97:

Oh, and did we mention (eat your heart out, Russell Westbrook🙂

Utah beat the Lakers 112-97, helping to stay on course for the ultimate showdown of avoid-the-Rockets-in-Round-2 destiny against Portland on the last day of the season. If the Jazz get past Minnesota, that game is winner-take all for the three seed.

Donovan Mitchell led the way with 28 points and nearly notched a triple-double with nine rebounds and eight assists, while Julius Randle had 17 for the Lakers and is way too good for that joke of a franchise so wherever LeBron James is going next year, could the Lakers please trade Randle to that team because he deserves to play with LeBron?

And finally, Toronto beat Orlando 112-101, running their record to 58-22 on the season. With wins at Detroit and Miami, the Raptors will secure the first 60-win season in franchise history; they’ve already set a team record for wins.

Did I mention…repeatedly…and unrelentingly…that the Raps are my Eastern Conference pick for the NBA Finals?

Anyway, C.J. Miles (yes, really) led the Raptors with 22 points on 6-of-13 shooting, hitting five three-pointers and just generally enjoying the playing time in a game full of limited minutes and a DNP-Rest for DeMar DeRozan.

Instead of showing you highlights from last night, here’s Serge Ibaka clowning the Pacers on Friday, dropping 25 points on them in a savage beatdown that clinched a franchise record for wins and the No. 1 seed in one swell foop:

Let’s face it, if you’ve watched an entire highlight show of meaningless games, you’re even more dedicated than I am. I have to do this. It’s my job. You didn’t have to do anything, but you did anyway.

You da real MVP.

We’ll be back tomorrow with more highlights and the final Pacers Tuesday of the season, so stay tuned and thanks for reading!