As we start this Sunday after 8 games across the NBA last night, the playoff picture is starting to clear up. Many of the best teams and players might take it easy over the remaining games on their schedule, so make sure you’re paying attention to who’s in and who’s getting healthy for the playoffs. Teams will do all they can to avoid what happened to Dwyane Wade last night as the star dislocated a finger playing in a virtually meaningless game. The good news is that he should be ok going forward, but the scare should be enough to remind playoff teams of the risks to starting a player.
Here’s a quick look at what last night’s games did for the playoff picture, what players excelled in last night’s games, and who is possibly available in your league to help you today.
Eastern Conference Playoff Race Update: The Bulls won and the Heat lost making Chicago’s lead 2 1/2 for the best record in the East. Indiana lost in OT but still looks to be the 3-seed. By losing in Utah, the Orlando Magic fell 2 full games behind Atlanta as the 2 teams race for 5th. Philadelphia moved within a win of clinching the final spot by beating the Pacers, but Milwaukee staved off elimination for at least a day by beating the Nets.
Western Conference Playoff Race Update: The Rockets finally found their way back to the win column edging the Warriors, but it’s probably too little too late. The Nuggets wrapped up the 7th spot in the playoffs by knocking off the Suns in Phoenix. They moved into a tie with the Mavs for 6th overall 1 1/2 games ahead of Utah. The Jazz are currently 8th after knocking off the Magic in OT and with the Suns loss are now a game clear of both Phoenix and Houston. The Jazz and Suns meat Tuesday virtually in a play-in game to see who gets the Spurs/Thunder in the first round.
5 to consider adding for Sunday’s games
1. Nikola Pekovic-Min: (74.1% ownership): If Pekovic was dropped in the midst of rumors of him being shut down for the year, go get him for today’s game against the Warriors. Minnesota closes the season with Denver Thursday and for both games Pekovic should be a good source of points and rebounds. He’s averaging 16 points and 9 boards over his last 5 games and had 23 against Detroit in the Wolves win Thurday.
2. Manny Harris-Cle: (0.0%) Harris is high-risk, but Kyrie Irving is expected to sit and Harris has been playing increased minutes since the departure of Lester Hudson. He had 19 points, 3 three-pointers, and 12 rebounds in a game-high 41 minuts against the Knicks Friday. With the Cavs headed to San Antonio expect him to get plenty of shot opportunities and to be able to contribute in scoring and treys.
3. Carl Landry-NO: (10.2) He’s coming off the bench for the Hornets stil but playing good amounts of tiem (38 min last game). He had 20 points and 10 rebounds against Houston Thursday and has been in double-digits scoring in each of his last 4 games with 10+ rebounds in all but one of those games.
4. Tayshaun Prince-Det: (52.2%)-Prince has played in 2 of the Pistons last 3 games and scored 15 and 18 points with 3 and 5 rebounds, 2 and 3 assists, a steal in each game, and a blocked shot. If you need peripherals, the Pistons host the Raptors in what could be an ugly game, but a profitable one for Prince owners.
5. Nate Robinson-GS: (51.8%)-If Nate plays, he’s a great add as the Warriors head for Minnesota. He’s missed the last 3 though, so don’t add him unless you’re ready for the risk. The game doesn’t tip until 7 EST so you’ll have to gamble if you’re going to add him
5 best stat-lines from Saturday
1. Ty Lawson-Den: Lawson had 29 points and 10 assists while adding a steal and 4 rebounds and making all 5 of his 3-point attempts. Lawson leads the Nuggets into the playoffs as they fight it out with the Mavs for 6th and a possible first round series with the Lakers.
2. David West-Ind: West had 32 points, 12 rebounds, 2 steals, a block, and an assist in the PAcers loss to Philadelphia. He’s looking in really good shape headed into the playoffs.
3. Brandon Jennings-Mil: Jennings scored 30 points on 9-18 shooting with 3 threes, 4 steals, 6 assists, and 6 rebounds as he led the Bucks to a big win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
4. Ersan Ilyasova-Mil: Ilyasova had 17 points and 17 rebounds in his 34 minutes while adding 3 steals, 3 assists, and 2 blocks. He’s had a breakout campaign but has struggled with injury lately so it’s good to see him healthy enough to contribute as the season comes to a close.
5. Shannon Brown-Phx: Brown hit 6 threes and finished with 28 points, 3 steals, 2 blocks, an assist, and 6 rebounds for the Suns in a game-high 41 minutes. Ultimately the Suns fell short, but they still control their own fate. If they win out, they’ll be the 8-seed.
5 Bigs coming up large
1. Al Jefferson-Uta: Jefferson dominated the Magic down low which isn’t a good sign for Orlando going forward. He finished with 21 points and 10 boards while blocking 3 shots and adding a steal and 2 assists.
2. Kenneth Faried-Den: Faried started and played 27 minutes making 9 of his 13 shots from the field and scoring 18 points go to with 3 blocks, 2 assists, a steal, and 13 rebounds. His emergence has been a big key to the Nuggets success this season.
3. J.J. Hickson-Por: Hickson played 38 minutes while scoring 23 points and grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out an assist.
4. Gerald Wallace-NJ: Wallase led the Nets with 18 points while adding a team-high 11 rebounds and a team-high 4 assists. He’s shown his value to the Nets as the season winds down and it’ll be interesting to see where and how he fits in to their team (or another team) headed into next season.
5. Marcin Gortat-Phx: Gortat had 18 points and 11 rebounds and added 3 blocks in his 27 minutes in the Suns loss to the Nuggets.
5 Guards with game
1. Jameer Nelson-Orl: Nelson has stepped up his numbers while Dwight Howard has been out. He scored a team-high 2 last night in Salt Lake City while adding 11 assists, a steal, and a rebound. He made 3 threes, but the Magic’s solid team effort came up a bit short.
2. John Wall-Was: Wall led the Wizards to a win in Miami against a Miami team missing LeBron and Chris Bosh for all of the game and getting just 3 minutes from Dwyane Wade. Wall had a nice game finishing with 13 points and 13 assists while adding 4 steals and 6 rebounds in his 40 minutes of playing time.
3. Devin Harris-Uta: Harris had 21 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds, and a key block at the end of regulation to help the Jazz get the win they needed against the Magic.
4. Jrue Holliday-Phi: Holiday played 41 minutes and had 17 points, 7 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals, and 4 rebounds in the 76ers typically-balanced output in their win over Indiana.
5. Klay Thompson-GS: Thompson het 2 threes and 9-19 from the field finishing with 2 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal. He’s had a nice rookie campaign and should play a big role in the Warriors plans going forward.