The NBA had 7 games on the court on Saturday, 6 of them featuring teams in playoff position against teams outside the playoffs. In the biggest upset of all, there were no upsets. The 6 teams in the top 8’s of the two conferences won, and the 6 teams outside all lost. O yeah, and in the other game Cavs beat the Wizards.
Here’s a quick update on the playoff race, the 5 best overall, 5 other good guards, 5 other good big men, and 5 to consider adding for today’s 10-game Sunday.
Eastern Conference Playoff Race Update: The Celtics and Pacers were the only Eastern Conference playoff teams in action and they both won on the run. The C’s over the Nets and the Pacers over the Bucks. The Bucks failed to close in on a playoff spot and currently sit 9th 2 1/2 games behind the Sixers and Knicks.
Western Conference Playoff Race Update: Like the Sixers and Knicks, the Rockets and Nuggets are tied for the 7 and 8 playoff seeds. While neither one played last night, they both got a little more breathing room as the Suns lost in San Antonio and the Jazz lost in Memphis. Phoenix now sits 1 1/2 out and Utah 2 games back. If they fade away, all that will be left to decide is seeding. The Thunder and Spurs both won last night and are 1-2 by a comfortable margin. The Lakers are currently 3rd (concerns about Kobe), and the Clippers closed to within a game of their building-mates by beating the T-Wolves last night. Memphis is 1 1/2 behind LA and currently 5th with 1 1/2 lead over Dallas who are currently 6th. There’s plenty for all these teams to play for since noone is locked in to their current seed.
5 Best Performances Yesterday
1. Chris Paul-LAC: Paul had 28 points on 12-17 shooting from the field. He made all 3 threes he attempted and added 3 steals, 4 rebounds, and 13 assists in the Clippers win over the visiting Warriors
2. Kevin Durant-OKC: Durant had a league-high 43 opints on 15-23 shooting with 4 three-pointers, 7 rebounds, a block, and an assist in 35 minutes of the Thunder win in Minnesota.
3. Russell Westbrook-OKC: Westbrook complemented Durant’s big night with 35 of his own with 2 steals, 8 assist, a rebound, and 2 threes.
4. Rudy Gay-Mem: Gay scored 26 points to go with 12 boards, 2 blocks, an assist, a steal, and a three-pointer.
5. J.J. Barea-Min: Barea had 24 points for Minnesota with 10 assists, 3 steals, 3 rebounds, and 3 threes as the Wolves fell to the Thunder
5 other Good Guards
1. Nate Robinson-GS: Nate Robinson led the Warriors with 28 points in 36 minutes off the bench. He hit 4 three-pointers and added 5 rebounds and 8 assists while only turning the ball over twice.
2. Brandon Jennings-Mil: Jennings struggled shooting (6-19 from the field) but finished with 16 points, 10 assits, 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the Bucks loss to Indiana. The Jennings-Ellis backcourt is a solid one for Milwaukee.
3. Sebastian Telfair-Phx: Telfair played 31 minutes for the resting Steve Nash and finished with a nic line of 21 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals, and a block. He won’t get this kind of time or results on a regular basis as the Suns rested all their starters after the Spurs blew the game open early with a 35-13 first quarter.
4. John Wall-Was: Wall scored 19 points to go with 9 assists, 2 rebounds, a steal, and a blocked shot as the Wizards fell to 8-22 at home and 14-16 overall.
5. Rajon Rondo-Bos: Rondo continued his incredible run of high-quantity assists with 15 more last night. He only scored 4 points but did add 4 rebounds and a steal as Boston beat the Nets in Jersey.
5 other Solid Big Men
1. Roy Hibbert-Ind: Hibbert had a monster game with 23 points and 14 rebounds along with 2 assists and a block as he led the Pacers past the playoff-hopeful Bucks in Milwaukee.
2. Kevin Garnett-Bos: Garnett had a team-high 21 points while also grabbing 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a block in the Celtics win over New Jersey.
3. Michael Beasley-Min: Beasley played 39 minutes off the Wolves bench while scoring a team-high 26 points, 6 boards, 3 assists, 2 steals, and a block. With Kevin Love still sidelined, Beasley picked up some of the scoring slack after Derrick Williams struggled finishing 0-4 with 3 fouls in just 13 minutes in the starting lineup.
4. Anthony Randolph-Min: Randolph came through with 22 points and 11 rebounds along with a block in his 34 minutes of floor time for the injury-depleted Wolves.
5. Marc Gasol-Mem: Gasol had a solid line of 17 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks to go with 6-10 shooting from the field and 5-8 from the FT line.
5 options to Consider for Sunday 4/15
1. Glen Davis-Orl: (39.1% ownership) Davis has been playing well (18.7 points, 11.4 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.4 steals in his last 7 games). Today he gets the Cavs and will continue to start with the latest on Dwight Howard’s injury.
2. J.R. Smith-NY: (43.9%) Smith has averaged 16 points and 2.6 threes with 3.8 assists, and 3.4 rebounds in his last 5 games. If you need a guard/wingman he’s one of the best options widely available for the rest of the season and tomorrow the Knicks host the Heat.
3. Kenneth Faried-Den: (31.3%) Faried is averaging 12.6 points and 9.6 rebounds with over a block and a steal per game in his last 5 as he steps up and takes more minutes for the Nuggets. Tonight Denver hosts Houston in a game with huge playoff implications and I think Faried will step it up.
4. Linus Kleiza-Tor: (2.5%) Kleiza had 17 points and 8 boards with 3 threes last night against the Celtics. He’s picking up some of the scoring with Andrea Bargnani out for the rest of the year. The Raps visit Atlanta tonight.
5. Ben Gordon-Det: (32%) If you need threes, he’s a nice option as the Pistons host his former team the Bulls. He’s made a three in 4 consecutive contests and scored 24 in his last game on Friday.