Today in Sports: 4/23/17 Review

NBA:

Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Indiana Pacers 106-102: The Cavaliers completed the sweep against the Pacers in what might be Paul George’s last game in Indiana. If this was George’s last game in Indiana, it was a terrible way to conclude a great Pacers career. George shot 5-21 from the field and ended up with 15 points. Myles Turner and Lance Stephenson scored 20 points and 22 points respectively. Both Turner and Stephenson were criticized by George in the media, and both outplayed their teammate in this must-win game. LeBron James had another fantastic game leading the Cavaliers with 33 points. Kevin Love struggled again scoring just five points on 2-13 shooting from the field. The Cavaliers had the ball up by three points in the final seconds when J.R. Smith went full J.R. Smith and tried an extremely stupid behind-the-back pass that resulted in a turnover. Paul George would get off a three pointer with a few seconds remaining that would’ve tied the game, but he missed wide right which ended the Pacers’ season. The Cavaliers will face the Toronto Raptors or Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the playoffs.

Houston Rockets defeat Oklahoma City Thunder 113-109: The Houston Rockets got an impressive contribution from their bench to help win game four and take a 3-1 series lead against the Thunder. The Rockets played three bench players, and they happened to be the team’s three leading scorers. Nene scored a team-high 28 points on 12-12 shooting from the field. Eric Gordon and Lou Williams both contributed 18 points to help pick up the struggling starters. James Harden shot 0-7 from three-point range and made only six free throws. His 16 point performance was way below his average, but he was able to depend on his teammates to help him in ways that Russell Westbrook’s teammates couldn’t. Westbrook scored a game-high 35 points and had a triple-double at halftime. Steven Adams had a solid game, but they didn’t get any contribution from their bench. Andre Roberson played great defense, but he shot 2-12 from the free throw line. The Thunder need to win three straight games to win the series, but don’t have any chance if they don’t get a contribution from their bench. These two teams will play game five on Tuesday in Houston.

Boston Celtics defeat Chicago Bulls 104-95: The Celtics defeated the Bulls in Chicago to even the series at two games apiece. Without Rajon Rondo, the Bulls have struggled to keep the momentum that they obtained after winning the first two games in Boston. Jerami Grant and Michael Carter-Williams took Rondo’s place at point guard and combined to score as many points as I did in this game. Yes, the two point guards for Chicago couldn’t manage to score a single point. Michael Carter-Williams has been a terrible basketball player since his first game of his career when he almost registered a quadruple-double, but he and Grant need to at least score a few points if they want to have a chance in this series. They won’t be able to match Rondo’s level of production, but they can’t afford to play as terribly as they did in this game. Jimmy Butler was fantastic again, but he can’t carry the team by himself. Isaiah Thomas and Gerald Green led the Celtics with 33 points and 18 points, respectively. These two teams will play game five on Wednesday in Boston.

Utah Jazz defeat Los Angeles Clippers 105-98: The Jazz evened the series at two games apiece with a home win against the Clippers. The Jazz were able to win without a contribution from their star player. Gordon Hayward was struggling with food poisoning, and was only able to play nine minutes in the game. “Iso” Joe Johnson was able to pick up the slack, scoring a game-high 28 points off the bench. He was very mamba-esque in the fourth quarter hitting clutch shot after clutch shot. Chris Paul and Jamal Crawford led the Clippers with 27 points and 25 points respectively, but they didn’t get much of a contribution from the rest of their team. These two teams will play game five on Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Today in Sports: 4/23/17 Preview

NBA:

Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: The Cleveland Cavaliers will attempt to pull off a four game sweep of the Pacers in Indiana. LeBron James and Paul George have been dominant throughout the series. George has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Pacers, but hasn’t gotten consistent help from his teammates. Although Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love haven’t been consistent, they’ve had enough flashes to help the Cavaliers win each of the first three games. The Pacers will try to become the first team in NBA history to win a seven game series after falling behind 3-0. They can’t win all four games at once, so they’ll have to start by winning this game at home.

Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder: The Thunder look to even the series at 2-2 at home against the Rockets. After an exciting game three, both teams have a chance to make their mark on the series in game four. The Thunder need to keep pace with the Rockets by winning their second straight home game. If they lose, the Rockets will take a commanding 3-1 series lead and look to finish off the Thunder in game five at home. This is a pivotal game for both teams.

Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls: The Boston Celtics will look to even the series at two games apiece with a road win against the Bulls. After losing the first two games at home, the Celtics rebounded with a dominating road win. The Bulls lost point guard Rajon Rondo to an injury suffered in game two, which was a major reason why they lost game three. Rondo will likely miss the rest of the series (and playoffs), so they’ll have to find a way to win without him. Jimmy Butler is the best player in this series, so he’ll have to put the Bulls on his back if they want to advance to the second round. The Celtics can regain the home-court advantage with a win, which will put them in the driver’s seat to move on to the second round. The winner of this game will be huge favorites to win the series.

Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz: The Jazz look to even the series at two games apiece against the Clippers in Utah. These two teams can beat anyone when healthy, but both have suffered a key injury during this series. They’re both used to playing with adversity due to the plethora of injuries both teams suffered during the regular season. Jazz star Rudy Gobert got injured ten seconds into the first game of the series, and is questionable to return in game three. His injury looked worse than it was, but he still might not be able to return in this series. Clippers star Blake Griffin injured his toe and will miss the rest of the postseason. This is a huge blow to the Clippers, which they were able to overcome in game three because of the brilliance of Chris Paul. The winner of this game will likely win the series, so it’s extremely important for both teams that they play their best basketball.

Today in Sports: 4/20/17 Review

NBA:

Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Indiana Pacers 119-114: The Cavaliers defeated the Pacers in the craziest game of the postseason. After leading at halftime by 25 points, the Pacers had an unbelievable collapse that basically ended their season. Although they could still win four straight games to move on to the second round, it’s not going to happen. Paul George led the Pacers with 36 points, but struggled with his shot all game. The Cavaliers’ defense was putrid in the first half, but they were able to figure things out in the second half. Amazingly, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love sat on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. They were struggling and the team was making a run with them on the bench, so coach Tyronn Lue decided against putting them back in the game. LeBron James put the team on his back and singlehandedly won them the game. He scored a game-high 41 points to go with his 13 rebounds and 12 assists.  These two teams will play game four on Sunday in Indiana.

Milwaukee Bucks defeat Toronto Raptors 104-77: In a game that was a blowout from the beginning, the Milwaukee Bucks punked the Raptors to take a 2-1 series lead. The Bucks won the first quarter 32-12 and never looked back. The Raptors’ star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for 21 points. DeRozan scored as many field goals as I did during the game (zero). Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo only scored 19 points, but he was extremely efficient. Greg Monroe, Michael Beasley, and Matthew Dellavedova all scored in double figures off the bench. Everyone stepped up for Milwaukee and nobody stepped up for Toronto. This was an embarrassing effort by the Raptors on the road. These two teams will play game four on Saturday in Milwaukee.

Memphis Grizzlies defeat San Antonio Spurs 105-94: The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Spurs at home in a must-win game. Grizzlies coach (take that for data!) David Fizdale decided to move Zach Randolph into the starting lineup, and Z-Bo rewarded him by scoring 21 points. Marc Gasol and Mike Conley both scored over twenty points, which was crucial for the Grizzlies. They needed their stars to step up, and that’s exactly what they did. The game was close at halftime, but got away from San Antonio in the third quarter. Coach Gregg Popovich would say after the game that they lost because of the first minutes of the second half. Popovich was so upset with his team’s effort to start the third quarter that he benched all five players after a timeout. Kawhi Leonard was not his usual self in this game. Former stars (and soon-to-be retirees) Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili combined to score as many points as I did. This was a game that the Grizzlies needed to win, and they played dominant basketball on both sides of the court. These two teams will play game four on Saturday in Memphis.

Today in Sports: 4/20/17 Preview

NBA:

Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers: The Cavaliers head to Indiana up 2-0 in the series to face the desperate Indiana Pacers. The Pacers were able to keep both games competitive before falling apart down the stretch. Cleveland is the much more talented team, but Indiana has proven that they can win if a few breaks go their way late in the fourth quarter. With their fans cheering them on, the Pacers need to win this game to avoid going down 3-0 in the series. Paul George has been fantastic in both games, but he needs help. Usually role players play better at home in the playoffs, so they might get a much needed boost from their bench. Myles Turner has emerged as the second best player on this team, and he’ll need to play like it after an abysmal game two. George was critical of both Turner and Lance Stephenson in the media. He claimed that it was to motivate his teammates. Both Turner and Stephenson will be counted on to give George support, which will be crucial if the Pacers want to get back in this series. This is a must-win game for the Pacers.

Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks: The winner of game three between the Raptors and Bucks will take a 2-1 lead in this series. After struggling in game one at home, the Raptors were able to even the series by hitting a few clutch shots late in the fourth quarter. The Bucks were playing catch-up all game, but had a chance to win late in the fourth quarter. Coach Jason Kidd played a few questionable lineups during the game that put the Bucks behind the eight ball. This was an inopportune time for his inexperience to rear its ugly head. The Raptors did a much better job of limiting superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in game two. He wasn’t able to get to the rim as easily as he did in game one, and he had trouble finishing due to the presence of Serge Ibaka. With Milwaukee stealing the home-court advantage from the Raptors, they’ll need to win these two games at home if they want to win the series. The winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat to advance to the second round of the playoffs.

San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies: The Grizzlies need to defeat the Spurs to avoid going down 3-0 in this series. If Memphis doesn’t win this game, they’ll have to try to become the first team to win a seven game series after losing the first three games. “TAKE THAT FOR DATA!” Grizzlies coach David Fizdale was recently fined after criticizing the officials after game two. He was upset that Kawhi Leonard shot more free throws than his entire team. The NBA playoff officials have been so terrible for so many years that this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Right when Memphis was getting back into the game, the officials started making one-sided calls that helped the Spurs regain a double-digit lead. This was blatantly obvious to any non-biased observer. As a fan of basketball that loves playoff competition, I was furious. Now that Fizdale made his point, look for the refs to swing in the opposite direction and start making calls to benefit the Grizzlies. We all hope they start calling the game fair, but don’t get your hopes up. These are NBA playoff refs, and they take sucking at their jobs very seriously. I appreciate Fizdale standing up for his players and criticizing the terrible playoff referees, and his “take that for data” rant was so fantastic that I hope this motivates his team and the officials to do a great job for the Memphis fans.

Today in Sports: 4/17/17 Review

NBA:

Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Indiana Pacers 117-111: In another closely contested game, the Cavaliers defeated the Pacers to take a 2-0 lead in this series. Although the game wasn’t as close as the first game, the Pacers dominated the fourth quarter to make it close at the end. At the end of the day, the Pacers weren’t able to get enough out of their role players. Myles Turner struggled all game, scoring just six points in 37 minutes. Paul George played like a superstar again, scoring a team-high 32 points. George and Lance Stephenson have been the best two players for the Pacers during the first two games of the series, but they haven’t been able to lead the Pacers to victory. The Cavaliers got another dominating performance from their big three. Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 37 points, with Love and James adding 27 points and 25 points, respectively. The Pacers head home, where they hope to get a boost from their crowd and their bench. They’ve played Cleveland close on the road, but now they’ll face a lot of pressure with a couple of must-win games at home. These two teams will play game three on Thursday in Indiana.

San Antonio Spurs defeat Memphis Grizzlies 96-82: In a game that was a blowout by halftime, the Spurs defeated the Grizzlies to take a 2-0 lead in this series. The Grizzlies dominated the third quarter and early fourth quarter to make the game competitive, but the Spurs pulled away in the end to win by double digits.  Kawhi Leonard dominated again with a game-high 37 points and stellar defense. Mike Conley and Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 24 points and 18 points, respectively. Grizzlies coach David Fizdale was extremely critical of the referees after the game, correctly pointing out that Kawhi Leonard shot more free throws than the entire Grizzlies team. It was hard not to notice that the Spurs were getting a lot of ticky-tack calls in their favor late in the fourth quarter when Memphis was coming back. It was extremely frustrating to watch, especially for the Grizzlies’ head coach. Fizdale should expect a fine from the league, but it’s time the NBA holds their officials accountable for doing a terrible job in the playoffs. This is an issue every year, and it seems intentional. These two teams will play game three on Thursday in Memphis.

Today in Sports: 4/17/17 Preview

NBA:

Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Pacers and Cavaliers will face each other in game two of this first round playoff matchup. After an exciting first game of the series that featured no defense, both teams will attempt to make it more difficult for their opponent to put the ball in the basket. Stars Paul George and LeBron James were both dominant in game one, and will have to shoulder the majority of the burden in the rest of the series. Paul George was upset about not getting the last shot in game one, which could fuel him going forward. These two teams know each other extremely well, which will make it interesting to see which team will make the necessary adjustments. This game isn’t a must-win for either team, but it would be extremely helpful if the Pacers can get one game before the series heads to Indiana.

Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs: The Grizzlies will try and bounce back after a humiliating loss in the first game of this series. The Grizzlies kept the game close early, but were outclassed in the last three quarters of the game. San Antonio is the much more talented team, especially with the injury to Memphis’ defensive star Tony Allen. The Grizzlies have enough talent and playoff experience to pull off the upset, but they’ll need to make a lot of adjustments if they want to even the series before heading home to Memphis.

Today in Sports: 4/15/17 Review

NBA:

Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Indiana Pacers 109-108: In the first game of the NBA postseason, the Cavaliers squeaked out the victory against the Pacers in Cleveland. The game was back-and-forth until the final shot, which was a missed shot at the buzzer by the Pacers’ C.J. Miles. Down by one with roughly ten seconds remaining, the Pacers’ coach Nate McMillan called a timeout to set up a play. This was a crucial mistake because it allowed the Cavaliers to set up their defense and get the ball out of Paul George’s hands. George passed the ball to Miles and tried to get open to take the final shot, but it was too late and Miles was forced to take the shot. Miles got off a good shot, but it came up just short. Paul George had a fantastic game in which he scored 29 points and was 6-8 from three point range. LeBron James led the Cavaliers with 32 points and 13 assists. These two teams will play game two on Monday in Cleveland.

Milwaukee Bucks defeat Toronto Raptors 97-83: The Bucks pulled off the road upset in Toronto in the first game of this series. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a stellar game full of blocks and ferocious dunks. He blocked DeMar Derozan at the end of the game and was called for a technical foul, even though it was DeRozan who started acting like a child. Although poor officiating isn’t rare in the playoffs, it didn’t cost the Bucks in this game. The Greek Freak scored 28 points and had 8 rebounds to lead his Bucks. Rookie Thon Maker had an impactful game including three blocks in a matter of minutes. Kyle Lowry had another terrible postseason game in which he shot 2-11 from the field and scored four points.  DeRozan had a decent game, but roughly half of his 27 points came from the free throw line. The self-proclaimed “trash bros” need to step up their game in game two unless they want to head to Milwaukee down two games to none. Game two will be played on Tuesday in Toronto.

San Antonio Spurs defeat Memphis Grizzlies 111-82: In the one boring game of the day, the Spurs routed the Grizzlies in San Antonio. Although the Grizzlies won the first quarter, they would be outscored in the remaining three quarters. In a battle featuring the Gasol brother, Marc would outscore his brother 32-6. But Marc Gasol was the only player on the Grizzlies who had a good game. Kawhi Leonard would also put in 32 points and played stellar defense throughout the game. The Grizzlies clearly missed Tony “first team all defense” Allen, who got hurt in the meaningless last game of the season. He would’ve guarded Kawhi Leonard, but will likely miss the entire series. These teams will play game two on Monday in San Antonio.

Utah Jazz defeat Los Angeles Clippers 97-95: In an game that featured Jazz star Rudy Gobert injuring his knee ten second into the game, the Utah Jazz were able to defeat the Clippers on the road in the first game of this series. The Jazz could’ve easily folded after watching their big man go down with a potentially serious knee injury, but they rallied around his injury and pulled off the upset. The Jazz are used to playing with backups due to the plethora of injuries their starters have sustained this season. Both of these teams had injury issues during the regular season, but were relatively healthy heading into the playoffs. If these teams didn’t have so many injuries, they both could’ve been the two seed in the Western Conference. That’s how talented both of these teams are, and it’s why this series will likely be the best first round series in the playoffs (regardless of the status of Rudy Gobert). This game came down to the last shot, in which “Iso Joe” Joe Johnson hit the game winning floater at the buzzer to stun the crowd in Los Angeles. Jazz coach Quin Snyder elected not to call a timeout before Johnson hit the game winning shot, which was a fantastic decision. Hopefully Gobert’s knee injury isn’t as serious as it looked, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll be ready for game two. Their next game will be on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Today in Sports: 4/15/17 Preview

NBA:

Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers: The Pacers and Cavaliers will meet in Cleveland for game one of this first round playoff series. LeBron James looks to lead the defending champion Cavaliers back to the NBA Finals. This would be LeBron’s seventh straight trip to the NBA Finals. The Indiana Pacers aren’t as good as they’ve been in past seasons, but they still have superstar Paul George leading the way. George is starting to look like the pre-injury Paul George again, which could give the Cavaliers trouble. LeBron’s teams have beaten the Pacers in multiple playoff series in the past, and shouldn’t have any problems beating this weaker Pacers team. The Cavaliers struggled towards the end of the regular season, so they’ll have to find their rhythm if they want to repeat as champions. This should make for an exciting series.

Milwaukee Bucks at Toronto Raptors: The Bucks and Raptors will meet in Toronto for game one of this first round playoff series. The Raptors are at full strength since the return of Kyle Lowry from his wrist injury. This Raptors team is more dangerous since the additions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline. The Raptors traded for these players to help them during the postseason, so now we’ll see if these moves pay off. The Bucks have been a much better team since the return of Khris Middleton, even though Jabari Parker tore his ACL in the game Middleton returned. With Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way, the Bucks have enough firepower to challenge any team in the Eastern Conference. Toronto is the favorites in the series, but Milwaukee has enough talent to pull off the upset.

Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs: The Grizzlies and Spurs will meet in San Antonio for game one of this first round playoff series. The Grizzlies will likely be without Tony “first team all defense” Allen for the playoffs, so this might be a lopsided series. The Grizzlies still have a lot of playoff experience with Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, and Zach Randolph on the roster, even though their coach David Fizdale doesn’t have any playoff experience. This could be an issue going up against the great Gregg Popovich. The Spurs have a ton of playoff experience too, led by superstar MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard. Both of these teams play a slower style of basketball, which could limit the number of possessions each team gets while keeping the games close. The Spurs are heavy favorites in this series, but they better not underestimate the Grizzlies with all of their playoff experience.

Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers: The Jazz and Clippers will meet in Los Angeles for game one of this first round playoff series. The Jazz and Clippers both underachieved this season largely due to the injuries both teams sustained. Now that both teams are relatively healthy, they should both be playing their best basketball at the most important time. The Jazz are one of the deepest teams in the NBA, but depth isn’t extremely important in the playoffs because starters usually get the bulk of the minutes. But the Jazz had to play a lot of their bench players in crucial minutes during the regular season because of the plethora of injuries their starters sustained. They received valuable experience that should help them during this playoff run. The Clippers also had to overcome a lot of injuries during the season. They were one of the hottest teams in the NBA during the first month of the season and then started to cool off when star players got injured. Now that Blake Griffin and Chris Paul are both healthy, the Clippers have enough firepower to beat any team in the Western Conference. This may be the most exciting and competitive first round series, so winning game one will be crucial for both teams.

Today in Sports: 4/12/17 Review

NBA:

Toronto Raptors defeat Cleveland Cavaliers 98-83: The Cavaliers decided a few days ago that it is more important to rest their starters before the playoffs than try and compete for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. The defending champion Cavaliers are confident that they can win a seven game series against the Celtics without home-court advantage. The last time these two teams played, the Cavaliers dominated the Celtics in Boston. It’s hard to bet against LeBron James, but the Cavaliers aren’t playing their best basketball heading into the postseason. This strategy will be questioned all offseason if the Cavaliers don’t make it back to the NBA Finals. Although this game was played by backups for both teams, this could be a potential second round playoff matchup. The Raptors are a much more dangerous team with the additions of Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker at the trade deadline. With the return of a healthy Kyle Lowry, this Raptors team has enough firepower to make an NBA Finals run.

Boston Celtics defeat Milwaukee Bucks 112-94: In a game that was a lot closer than the score suggests, the Boston Celtics were able to clinch the number one seed in the Eastern Conference by defeating the Bucks. This game was extremely close through three quarters before the Celtics were able to pull away in the fourth quarter. The Bucks were resting most of their starters including superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. This game shouldn’t have been close, but it seemed like the Celtics were feeling the pressure of competing for the top seed. Since the Cavaliers lost, the Celtics would’ve been the number one seed even if they lost this game. If this is how the Celtics play under pressure, they may have a disappointing showing in the playoffs.

Miami Heat defeat Washington Wizards 110-102: The Miami Heat’s improbable season came to an end after a victory over the Wizards. The Heat needed either the Indiana Pacers or Chicago Bulls to lose in order to clinch a spot in the playoffs, but both of those teams won and clinched playoff berths. The Heat had one of the greatest endings to a season for a non-playoff team in NBA history. They had a ton of injuries and had one of the worst records in the NBA halfway through the season, but they never gave up. Coach Erik Spoelstra deserves a ton of credit for the way he led his team to the precipice of the playoffs. Although they came up short, this season proves Miami has a bright future ahead of them.

Indiana Pacers defeat Atlanta Hawks 104-86: The Indiana Pacers clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference with a win against the Hawks. The Pacers would’ve missed the playoffs if they lost this game. The Pacers have a great challenge ahead of them in the first round of the playoffs when they face the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers. Although LeBron has had the Pacers’ number in past postseason matchups, this year’s Cavaliers limped into the playoffs. The Pacers aren’t as big of a threat as they’ve been in year’s past, but they still have superstar Paul George leading the way. George looks like the pre-injury Paul George again, and that could be a major problem for the Cavaliers. The defending champions will be heavy favorites in this series, but you can’t sleep on a team with a superstar of Paul George’s caliber.

Playoff standings –

Western Conference:

  1. Golden State Warriors
  2. San Antonio Spurs
  3. Houston Rockets
  4. Los Angeles Clippers
  5. Utah Jazz
  6. Oklahoma City Thunder
  7. Memphis Grizzlies
  8. Portland Trail Blazers

Eastern Conference:

  1. Boston Celtics
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
  3. Toronto Raptors
  4. Washington Wizards
  5. Atlanta Hawks
  6. Milwaukee Bucks
  7. Indiana Pacers
  8. Chicago Bulls

Today in Sports: 4/12/17 Preview

NBA:

All non-playoff teams: Fans of non-playoff teams should watch their team’s season finale. This will be the last time to watch your team until next season.

Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers: Although this is an extremely important game for the Cavaliers, there is a good chance that they will rest their starters. The Cavaliers are in second place in the Eastern Conference and are just one game behind the Boston Celtics. They rested LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in their last game, which cost them the top seed in the playoffs. The Cavaliers seem to care more about resting their players than getting the top seed. The Cavaliers destroyed the Celtics in Boston the last time they played, so they might not be worried about beating the Celtics on the road in the playoffs. This strategy is extremely risky and may come back to bite them in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics: The Boston Celtics are currently one game ahead of the Cleveland Cavaliers for the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. With Milwaukee already locking up the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference, there’s a good chance the Bucks will rest their starters including superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. This could help the Celtics clinch home-court advantage.

Washington Wizards at Miami Heat: This game is a must-win for the Miami Heat. They are currently in ninth place in the Eastern Conference. They are tied with the eighth seeded Chicago Bulls, but they don’t own the tiebreaker. They are one game behind the seventh seeded Indiana Pacers, but in this case they own the tiebreaker over Indiana. If the Heat lose to the Wizards, their valiant effort to get back into postseason contention will be wasted. There are multiple scenarios that could lead to the Heat making the playoffs. If the Heat and Pacers win and Bulls lose, the Pacers and Heat will be the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively.  If the Heat and Bulls win and Pacers lose, the Bulls and Heat will be the seventh and eighth seeds, respectively. If all three teams win, the Heat will stay in ninth place and will miss the playoffs. The Heat must win and hope either the Bulls or Pacers lose.

Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers: The Indiana Pacers control their own destiny. If the Pacers beat the Hawks, they will clinch the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. If the Pacers lose, they could fall to eighth place if the Heat or Bulls win. The Pacers will miss the playoffs if they lose and both the Heat and Bulls win. If all three teams win or lose, the playoff standings will remain the same. The Hawks have already clinched the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and may decide to sit their starters. This would be an enormous help for the Pacers. Indiana cannot focus on all the potential playoff scenarios, they just need to focus on themselves and beat the Hawks to clinch a spot in the playoffs.