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- Ohm Youngmisuk has lined the Giants, Jets and the NFL since 2006. Previous to that, he lined the Nets, Knicks and the NBA for almost a decade. He joined ESPNNewYork.com after working on the New York Each day Information for nearly 12 years and is a graduate of Michigan State College.
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The race for eighth within the Western Convention stays up for grabs, however the remainder of the NBA playoff image turned clear Wednesday.
All of the postseason matchups in each conferences have been set following Wednesday’s video games apart from who will face the West’s top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers within the first spherical. The Portland Trail Blazers (34-39), Memphis Grizzlies (33-39), Phoenix Suns (33-39) and San Antonio Spurs (32-38) all nonetheless have an opportunity to compete within the play-in collection to find out the eighth spot within the West coming into Thursday’s pivotal slate of video games.
The LA Clippers clinched the West’s second seed with a 124-111 win over the Denver Nuggets, who’re locked into the third seed. The Clippers (48-23) will face the seventh-seeded Dallas Mavericks (43-31) as anticipated, establishing an intriguing matchup between one of many stingiest defenses within the league anchored by Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in opposition to essentially the most environment friendly offense in NBA historical past powered by Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. The Mavericks rating 116.1 factors per 100 possessions.
The Clippers beat the Mavericks all thrice they confronted one another this season.
“Proper now, it does not appear to be seeds matter,” mentioned Leonard, the reigning NBA Finals MVP who will attempt to win a second consecutive championship however with a unique group.
Leonard added, “I imply, similar to tonight, we performed Denver. We’re not touring there or pushing by way of that altitude that they are used to enjoying to at dwelling. Additionally followers. However the little issues like that, , simply touring to that completely different metropolis and attempting to ascertain your self and see what routine you may make on the market, these are just about the difficulties of ballgames within the playoffs [that aren’t in the bubble].”
Minus their dwelling altitude benefit, the Nuggets (46-26) will face the sixth-seeded Utah Jazz (43-28) within the first spherical, pitting the perfect passing huge man in Nikola Jokic in opposition to the most effective defensive facilities within the league in Rudy Gobert.
“I feel it is a actually good matchup with Utah,” mentioned Jokic, whose Nuggets are 3-Zero in opposition to the Jazz this season however are ready for the return of injured starters Gary Harris and Will Barton. “I did not have one straightforward sport in opposition to them, so it may be a really fascinating collection.”
The collection within the West with essentially the most potential for drama and plot twists is between the Oklahoma City Thunder (44-27) and Houston Rockets (44-27). Rockets guard Russell Westbrook, whose standing for the beginning of the playoffs is unsure due to a strained muscle in his proper quadriceps, will face the Thunder, his former group, if he can play, and OKC guard Chris Paul will likely be reunited along with his ex-Rockets teammates. The Thunder lead the season collection 2-1.
Within the East, Giannis Antetokounmpo has waited greater than a 12 months to get again to the postseason for an opportunity to succeed in the NBA Finals. His top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks (56-16) start their run in opposition to the Orlando Magic (32-40).
Like within the West, the juiciest collection within the East might be within the 4-5 matchup between the Miami Heat (44-28) and Indiana Pacers (44-28). The NBA now will get a best-of-seven collection involving Jimmy Butler and T.J. Warren, one of the vital spectacular gamers within the bubble. The 2 went at it throughout a January assembly, with Warren ejected and Butler labeling Warren as “comfortable.” Miami is 3-Zero in opposition to Indiana this season coming into the ultimate regular-season assembly in opposition to one another on Friday.
The third-seeded Boston Celtics (48-23) will play the reeling Philadelphia 76ers (42-30). The Sixers lead the season collection 3-1 however have misplaced three straight within the bubble and are with out Ben Simmons (knee) for the remainder of the season. Joel Embiid left Wednesday’s 125-121 loss to Toronto after being hit in the appropriate wrist however X-rays have been adverse.
The Toronto Raptors (52-19) will start their title protection in opposition to the Brooklyn Nets (35-36). Toronto leads the season collection 3-1, however Brooklyn is 5-2 within the bubble heading into Thursday.
In fact, with the enjoying subject impartial in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, there’s the possibility for this postseason to be unpredictable.
“It is a whole lot of unknowns right here,” George mentioned. “However I am assured. I feel our group is assured. There’s nothing to be unconfident about. It is a fair enjoying subject.”