March 3,2019 at 7:00 PM
3/29/2019 7:00 PM
Pacers Meet Celtics In Likely Playoff Preview
The Indiana Pacers will head to Boston on Friday to take on the Celtics at TD Garden. The Pacers (45-40) enter Friday's contest in a major slide, losing five of their last six games; all of which came against Western Conference opponents. Now, the team holds just a one-game lead over the Celtics (44-31) for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference standings and the all-important home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately for Indiana, this crucial game that decides who has a leg up in the season series comes on the road, where the team has managed to find no success recently. Following their loss Wednesday in Oklahoma City, the Pacers have now lost a staggering nine games in a row away from home. This quickly dropped their once promising road record of 17-12 to 17-21 in just over a month. And the last time Indiana made the trip to Boston this season, they got hammered by the Celtics, 135-108. Those Celtics, however, haven't exactly been cruising. They won their most recent outing by 10 points against the lowly Celtics, but prior to that, the team had lost four games in a row while locker room issues began to emerge. If it wasn't for the Pacers going on a losing streak of their own, this situation in Boston would likely look a lot worse than it already is. Nevertheless, despite everything, the Celtics now have an opportunity Thursday night to take back the No. 4 seed from an Indiana team that has been without star guard Victor Oladipo (knee) for months now. What makes the situation even better for Boston is the fact that they should have a fully healthy rotation Thursday, as Kyrie Irving is coming off a night off in Cleveland, while Al Horford, who has missed two of the last three games with a knee injury, is listed as probable for the contest.
March 3,2019 at 7:30 PM
3/29/2019 7:30 PM
Hawks Host Streaking Trail Blazers
The Atlanta Hawks play host to the Portland Trail Blazers, at State Farm Arena on Friday evening. The Hawks (27-48) are 5-5 in their last 10 games, including winning their last three in a row. Despite their record, which is third worst in the East, the Hawks have put together some impressive performances throughout the season, showing that they could be a problem in the near future. For example they are already beating good teams, as they have topped the Sixers and Jazz as part of their current winning streak. Trae Young has led the way for the Hawks for most of the season, and continues to make a final push for the Rookie of the Year award. Young is averaging 23.2 points, 8.8 assists and 4.7 rebounds over his last 10 games. John Collins has also been huge for the Hawks this season, averaging 19.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Taurean Prince (foot) is doubtful for action on Friday. The Hawks give up an average of 118.6 points against, which is the worst in the NBA. Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers (47-27) were dealt a devastating blow earlier in the week, as Jusuf Nurkic went down with a season-ending leg injury. Nurkic had to be stretchered off the floor during the second overtime period, after a huge 32-point, 16-rebound performance. The Blazers managed to hold on for the win, and also came up with a win in their most recent contest to earn their fifth straight win and move to 8-2 in their last 10 games. The Trail Blazers have moved up to third place in the East, and sit only 3.5 games out of second. This marks the second game of a four-game road trip for the Trail Blazers, who are 18-18 on the road this season. Damian Lillard leads the team, averaging 26.2 points, 6.8 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. New addition Enes Kanter finished with 13 points and six rebounds, in 22 minutes, in the Blazers' last outing, where he got the start at center. Kanter has been solid, averaging 10.1 points and 7.2 rebounds, in 18.5 minutes over his last 10 games.
March 3,2019 at 8:00 PM
3/29/2019 8:00 PM
Warriors and Timberwolves Meet In Conference Showdown
The Golden State Warriors take on the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center on Friday evening. The Warriors (51-23) come into Friday's contest in the midst of a strong stretch of play, as they've notched victories in four out of the last five games. Their most recent success came against the Memphis Grizzlies, which they toppled by a 118-103 score on Wednesday night. Stephen Curry and Draymond Green led the way with matching 28-point tallies while hauling in nine and 10 rebounds, respectively. DeMarcus Cousins delivered 16 points, nine rebounds, six assists, three steals and three blocks. Klay Thompson poured in 13 points. The Warriors come into Friday's game without any short-term injuries to report. The Timberwolves (33-41) find themselves on the opposite end of the spectrum from their opponents, as they'll enter Friday's game having dropped six of their last seven games. Minnesota's most recent stumble came courtesy of the Los Angeles Clippers, which clipped them by a 122-111 score on Tuesday evening. Karl-Anthony Towns led the Timberwolves with a 24-point, 13-rebound double-double that also included three assists and two steals. Andrew Wiggins poured in 22 points and added three rebounds, three assists and two steals. Dario Saric furnished 18 points, five rebounds, one assist and one steal. Tyus Jones managed 13 points, eight assists and two rebounds. Josh Okogie and Jerryd Bayless managed nine points apiece. The Timberwolves will list Taj Gibson (calf) as doubtful for Friday's contest while Luiol Deng (Achilles) will remain out. Jeff Teague (foot), Derrick Rose (elbow) and Robert Covington (knee) are already out for the season. Friday's game marks the fourth and final meeting of the season between the teams. The Warriors own a 3-0 series lead, having notched 116-99, 116-108 and 117-107 wins on Nov. 2, Dec. 10 and Mar. 19, respectively.
March 3,2019 at 8:00 PM
3/29/2019 8:00 PM
Thunder Play Host to Nuggets on Friday
The Oklahoma City Thunder play host to the Denver Nuggets at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Friday. The Nuggets (50-24) captured the top-seed in the Western Conference earlier in the week but completely fell on their face right after. In fact, they took a 36-point beatdown at the hands of the Indiana Pacers in their one game as the top-seed, which ultimately landed them right back into second. While they did follow that up with a narrow win over the Detroit Pistons, they took another blowout loss at the hands of the Houston Rockets on Thursday. This poor stretch has to have Nuggets fans somewhat discouraged and it seems more and more unlikely that they'll finish first in the west. Gaining a top-two seed is a heck of an accomplishment in its own right though, as that's pretty much a guarantee at this point. That means the Nuggets will have homecourt for the first two rounds of the postseason, which is huge for a club who owns a 19-18 road record and a 31-6 home record. The Thunder (44-31) have been playing poorly since the all-star break, as they come into this matchup losing 12 of their last 19 games. That stretch has dropped Oklahoma City to seventh in the west, which is quite the downfall after sitting third not long ago. The good news is that the Thunder are just one game back of the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers in fifth and sixth. That means there's a lot that needs to be decided over the final few weeks and this club desperately needs to find some form heading into the postseason. The fact that Paul George (shoulder) comes into this matchup questionable doesn't quiet the doubters, as his absence will hurt this team even more if he does sit out. This is the fourth and final meeting between these teams, with Denver looking for the season sweep.
March 3,2019 at 9:00 PM
3/29/2019 9:00 PM
Jazz Host Wizards on Friday
The Washington Wizards travel to Salt Lake City to play the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Friday. The Wizards (31-45) had serious playoff hopes coming into the season but all those hopes are gone at this point. In fact, Washington lost any chance of reaching the postseason after the Orlando Magic won on Thursday. That put the Wizards 6.5 games back with only six games remaining, as that obviously can't be made up. That makes this club one of the biggest disappointments of the season and it's obvious what the issue was. This team simply couldn't get over their injuries, with players like John Wall and Dwight Howard missing most of the season. That forced management to move Otto Porter at the trade deadline and it's now a new core for the future. The one bit of good news is that they appear to have some good young pieces to build around. with Bradley Beal being the shining star. Beal has taken this team on his back and quieted the notions on who the leader is for the Wizards. It's not just him though, as they've gotten some nice seasons from players like Bobby Portis, Tomas Satoransky and Thomas Bryant. That's a good enough team to reach the postseason and if they don't do that next year, it may be full-on sell time. The Jazz (45-30) have been downright scary recently, as they're arguably the best team in the NBA right now. Not only have they won eight of their last nine games, but all eight of those victories have come by 15 points or more. That shows just how dominant this team can be on both ends of the floor and it's clear that their defense is the catalyst to their success. Playing at home is a huge boost as well, with Utah owning a 25-12 record at Vivint Smart Home Arena. That's always been one of the toughest arenas to play in and it's clear that Utah wants to land homecourt advantage in the first-round of the playoffs to use that hyphy crowd in their favor. The Jazz are 2.5 games behind the Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets in third and fourth, as Utah will do everything they can to catch those clubs. Utah dominated their first game against Washington, winning 116-95, on the road. That marked the Jazz' sixth-straight win in this series dating back three years.
March 3,2019 at 10:30 PM
3/29/2019 10:30 PM
Hornets Visit Hapless Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers will host the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center on Friday evening. The Lakers (33-42) have gone just 5-13 since the All-Star Break. It is not the debut season that LeBron James was hoping for in LA, as the team has been eliminated from playoff contention, snapping James' 14-year postseason streak. On top of poor play, the Lakers have been burdened with a long injury list. Brandon Ingram (shoulder), Lonzo Ball (ankle), and Josh Hart (knee) have all had their seasons ended by various complications. The Lakers were without any of the aforementioned players on Tuesday, when they took a 100-115 loss to the Utah Jazz. JaVale McGee continued to be a bright spot during the team's late-season struggles, recording 20 points, 13 rebounds, and four blocks despite the loss. The veteran is averaging 14.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game since the start of March. Charlotte (35-39) is still in the playoff hunt thanks to a four-game win streak. The Hornets currently sit at 10th in the Eastern Conference, 1.5 games behind the eighth-place Heat. Charlotte's most recent win was a commanding 13-point blowout of the San Antonio Spurs. The Hornets were led by Kemba Walker, who scored 38 points, dished out 11 assists, and grabbed nine rebounds in the crucial win. Charlotte's victory over San Antonio came just two nights after the team stunned Toronto with a buzzer-beating upset. The Hornets will hope to keep their momentum going as they seek to re-enter the playoff picture.