With the way things are unfolding, it’s hard to tell if anybody wants to win the East anymore, and with a potential physically exhausting second round date with the Chicago Bulls (and maybe a Derrick Rose return, or, maybe not) there may be good reason to avoid the number one seed. The Pacers and Heat both dropped road games to under .500 teams last night, with Indy losing in MSG to the Knicks and the Heat dropping a nail-biter to the Celtics in Boston.
Lets start with the Pacers, who haven’t looked the same since the phrase “million dollar abortion” was attached to their biggest star. The 92-86 loss to the Knicks is just another in a less than stellar stretch for the current owner’s of the best record in the Eastern Conference. November MVP Paul George finished with 17 points but shot only 1-8 in the first half for three points.
Meanwhile, Carmelo Anthony doubled George’s output with 34 points and stymied George with foul trouble throughout. When all is said and done, the Pacers are a flawed team, a contender still, but a flawed one, especially on offense where they struggle with turnovers and scoring droughts often.
The Knicks, on the other hand, haven’t looked the same since Phil Jackson’s name was attached to them, and have now won seven straight. Phil met the team before the game and was announced to a standing ovation in the first quarter. Unfortunately for them the Hawks, the team ahead of them in the playoff race, has also won five straight.
The Heat lost to the Celtics 101-96 and again left a chance to shave a game off the Pacers lead in the East. LeBron James was a late scratch with “back spasms” and the loss is Miami’s sixth in the nine games since LeBron scored a career high 61 points March 3rd. The Heat are still just two games behind the Pacers in the loss column, whom they play next Wednesday. If Miami wants to the win the top seed in the East I would suggest they heed Stringer Bell’s final words and, “Get on with it mothaf—.”
— In lighter news, J.J. Barea tried to pull off a tip dunk.
— Speaking of one seeds, the San Antonio Spurs are doing what the Spurs always do, quietly sitting in the driver’s seat in the West with the league’s best record. They beat the Lakers last night 125-109, their 11th straight win. Rinse repeat.
— In the news of streaks, the Sixers dropped their 22nd straight game, losing to the Bulls 102-94. The Sixers are five losses away from breaking the league record for longest single season losing streak, and all signs point to them reaching that “milestone,” as 10 of their last 14 games are against current playoff teams, and nine of those 14 games are on the road. I feel like tanking isn’t a strong enough word here, we need something better to describe what’s going on in Philly right now.
— The Memphis Grizzlies are quietly the hottest team in the league not named the Spurs, winners of eight of their last 10 after beating the Jazz 96-86 last night. During that run the Grizz have leapfrogged the Suns and Mavericks for the seventh seed, and sit only two games behind the sixth seed Warriors. Their defense and interior scoring make them a dangerous opponent in the first round, especially if they lock horns with the Clippers again, for the third season in a row.
— Late season box scores are always fun, because on the right night, when the right hapless non playoff teams meet up you get a stat line like Aaron Brooks’ last night. Brooks poured in 27 points to go with his career high 17 assists in the Nuggets 118-109 win over the Detroit Pistons.
Also, Timofey Mozgov got revenge on the Internet by Mozgov’ing Josh Smith, isn’t meaningless late season basketball great?