The Nets are in tenth place in the East, synonymous with complicated play-offs on the outside, after their defeat in Atlanta (122-115), on Saturday in the NBA, where Miami consolidated its leadership in the conference, surpassing Chicago. Kevin Durant did it all, but his 55 points, including eight of 10 shots from behind the arc (broken career highs), didn’t change a thing. Because apart from Kyrie Irving, in tune (31 pts), the rest of the team did not follow and once again the defense sinned with the New Yorkers, punished by Trae Young (36 pts, 10 passes).
And here are the Hawks moving up two spots to eighth place and Brooklyn dropping two spots. There are four games left for the Nets to reverse positions, otherwise they will have to play two playoff games away from home to hope to reach the playoffs in last position. This scenario, if materialized, would make them meet in the 1st round Miami, which consolidated its first place, by beating the Bulls (127-109).
Last week’s storm of four straight losses and, as a bonus, a clash between coach Erik Spoelstra and star Jimmy Butler is well forgotten. He may have even done a good thing, because the Florida team is back together and very solid, with six players finishing between 13 and 22 points. Opposite, the duo Zach LaViine (33 pts) DeMar DeRozan (26 pts) acted in vain.
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Philadelphia, which is going through a turbulent zone with three straight losses and already doubts about James Harden, calmed down by crushing Charlotte (144-114), relying in particular on Joel Embiid. The Cameroonian center, engaged in the final sprint for the MVP trophy race, with current owner Nikola Jokic (Denver) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee) who was in 2019 and 2020, was dominant (29 points, 14 rebounds, 6 passes). In its wake, the Sixers collective fired from behind the arc, as no less than 21 attempts (of 43) hit the target, a franchise record tied.
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In this favorable context, James Harden, however, did not particularly stand out, although he was active and altruistic (12 pts, 13 assists, 8 rebounds). An offensive performance still below expectations, from the three-time top scorer in the league (2018, 2019, 2020), which coach Doc Rivers did not hesitate to criticize, after the loss to Detroit on Thursday.
Philadelphia (4th in the East) will officially enter the playoffs on Sunday, in the event of a victory over Cleveland, which also seeks to qualify there, without going through the playoffs. But the Cavs have a good chance of playing against them, as they are currently ranked 7th, slightly behind Toronto (5th) and Chicago (6th). However, he fulfilled his mission by winning (119-101) at Madison Square Garden, with the Knicks already out of the race, thanks especially to Darius Garland (24 pts, 13 assists). On the New York side, Evan Fournier was on their banner (19 pts, 3 assists).
Finally in the West, Golden State (3rd), led by 13 points at halftime, overcame Utah (111-107), thanks to a fierce money time in which the Warriors scored six consecutive prize baskets, inflicting an 18- 0 fatal to Jazz (5th). Klay Thompson scored only eight throughout the match to finish with 36 pts, well supported by Jordan Poole (31 pts). Opposite, Rudy Gobert dominated inside (14 pts, 19 rebounds), in vain.
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