• Lines of the Night

    T.J. Warren, Indiana Pacers – 32 points, two rebounds, three assists, three steals, a block and four 3-pointers (13-for-17 FG, 4-for-5 FT)

    In the bubble, Warren is averaging 39.7 points, 4.7 3s, 5.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 2.3 blocks on .653 shooting. He’s been something else and small sample sizes like this shouldn’t fool you, but we’re only playing eight games and then the playoffs begin so this is the perfect time to catch fire. The Pacers were already a strong team before the resumption and if Oladipo’s bill of health is clean along with a hot Warren, the Pacers could make noise.

    Jusuf Nurkic Portland Trailblazers – 18 points, 10 rebounds, three assist, a steal and three blocks (6-for-15 FG, 6-for-6 FT)

    Nurkic abused the mismatch tonight against the Rockets, hauling in six offensive rebounds, but he struggled finishing against the swarming defense. It looks like he’s back as the full time starter as Hassan Whiteside’s value is now shot in the toilet with how well the Blazers have been playing with Nurk manning the middle.

    Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks – 34 points, 20 rebounds, 12 assists, two blocks and two 3-pointers (12-for-24 FG, 8-for-11 FT)

    Doncic had an insane triple-double as the Mavs clawed back and beat the Kings in overtime. He’s going to put up some ridiculous stat lines as the Mavs jostle for higher seeding and even in losses, you can bet on Doncic to perform at a superstar level.

    Rundown

    BKN 119 @ MIL 116

    The Nets had everything working against them prior to tipoff. Spencer Dinwiddie, Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan were all inactive, meaning they were 18-point underdogs. Every player fought as hard as they could and pulled off the biggest NBA upset by betting standards in 27 years. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot can play and has been heating up during the bubble. He had 26 points with five treys while Chris Chiozza double-doubled while handing out a game-high 10 dimes to go with his 10 points. Jamal Crawford scored five points in his Nets debut, but suffered a strained hamstring after six minutes of action. Garrett Temple was big time on both ends of the floor, hitting five triples and blocking two shots and the Nets just outworked the Bucks overall. It helps that the Bucks starters mostly rested, but you still have to show up and win games, which is exactly what Brooklyn did.

    Giannis Antetokounmpo was 7-for-8 from the floor with 16 points, but only played 16 minutes and sat the entire second half. The Bucks are going to take it easy on some nights because they pretty much have the No. 1 seed in the league locked up and with every game being played on a neutral court, does it really matter? Eric Bledsoe is slowly getting worked in as he made his bubble debut with 18 minutes played and shot a rusty 1-for-5 from the floor. Coach Budenholzer played all 13 of his guys at least 14 minutes in this game. It’s a luxury to be able to do so and not care about the win-loss column this late in the season, one that the Bucks have earned.

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    DAL 114 @ SAC 110

    Luka Doncic continues to thrill NBA fans as he put up a 34-20-12 line in 44 minutes against the Kings. The Mavs were a bit slow to start this one off, but their offense eventually got going and it was enough to push them past the Kings.

    Coach Walton sounds like he’s given up on any playoff aspirations and it’s puzzling to me. After the game he stated that the bubble would be a good “learning experience” which is bizarre as the Kings were in a decent place to make a legitimate run at the final playoff spot. Richaun Holmes (eight points, 3-of-3 shooting with 12 rebounds and a block) is still great, but only logged 25 minutes and Buddy Hield (31 minutes, 21 points, four rebounds, three assists, a steal and five triples) is still stuck coming off the bench which makes no sense. De’Aaron Fox (39 minutes, 28 points, three boards, nine assists, two steals and two triples) has looked excellent, but none of it matters when the Kings are giving away games.

    PHX 117 @ LAC 115

    Devin Booker (35 points on 13-of-25 shooting with four rebounds, eight assists and six 3-pointers) came to play. He was on fire since the beginning of the game and set the tone early for a hungry Suns team and ended the night hitting the game-winner at the buzzer. Deandre Ayton (19 points, seven rebounds, four assists and a 3-pointer) is playing well on offense and Ricky Rubio (18 points, three rebounds, four assists and three triples) has been awesome since the bubble started. Coach Monty Williams has his team fired up and ready to play during these final eight and there’s still a slim chance they make the playoffs, but it looks like that glimmer of hope is enough to keep these youngsters fighting for their lives. The Suns are not an easy out in the bubble.

    The Clippers had a slow start from Kawhi Leonard (27 points, seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and two triples), but he eventually got it going late in the game and showed us why he’s a two-time Finals MVP. Paul George (23 points on 6-of-17 shooting with six boards, five dimes and a triple) wasn’t efficient from the floor, but Ivica Zubac (18 points on 7-of-9 shooting to go with 12 boards and a block) made up for lost ground on the offensive end with his active rim rolling. Lou Williams (seven points on 3-of-8 shooting with six rebounds and six dimes) was awful in his first game back and it’s really difficult to trust him to build up strong value in these last games, especially without Montrezl Harrell (personal) gone for the near future.

    BOS 106 @ MIA 112

    The Celtics had the pleasure of playing the Heat with no Jimmy Butler (ankle) but still came up short. Kemba Walker (27 minutes, 15 points on 4-of-9 shooting) didn’t do much else besides score and is still working his way up to his usual workload. Gordon Hayward (15 points, seven boards and three assists) joined Jaylen Brown (18 points, 9-of-23 shooting with 10 rebounds, two steals and a block) going scoreless from deep. The two combined 0-for-10 from beyond the arc and Jayson Tatum (23 points, 6-of-11 shooting with seven rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and two triples) was the only real threat on offense for the C’s.

    Kelly Olynyk (15 points, six rebounds, eight assists, two steals, a block and two triples) started, played 32 minutes and put up a big line. He’s good to go if Jimmy Butler rests again, but he was killing it the game before too so he’s earned extra leash. Duncan Robinson (21 points, 6-of-12 shooting with five triples, three boards, two dimes and a block) is the truth. He’s going to smash some 3-point records down the line. Bam Adebayo threw up a 21-12-2-1-1 line on 5-of-12 shooting and steamrolled the Celtics on both ends of the floor. He’s a superstar in the making.

    ORL 109 @ IND 120

    Aaron Gordon (20 points, seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and two triples) and Nikola Vucevic (24 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, a steal and two triples) showed out for the Magic, but they’re sorely missing Jonathan Isaac (ACL) as they got shredded on the defensive end of the floor. Terrence Ross (20 points, three rebounds, a steal and three triples) lit it up on the offensive end, but the Magic don’t have much of a problem scoring.

    T.J. Warren is the player of the bubble so far. He dropped another fantastic line in a win, scoring 32 points with two boards, three dimes, three steals, a block and four triples on 13-of-17 shooting. Victor Oladipo (13 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals and a triple) looked healthy out there and the entire Pacers squad just followed Warren’s lead and kept their foot on the gas the entire game.

    HOU 102 @ POR 110

    P.J. Tucker (six points, eight rebounds, one steal and two triple) and Robert Covington (six points, 2-of-11 shooting with eight rebounds, one assist, two steals and two treys) did not have it going on offense. Jeff Green (22 points, 7-of-15 shooting with six boards, one assist and five treys) lit it up from the corner all night thanks to some Russell Westbrook (15 points, 5-of-14 shooting, 5-for-12 FTs, three boards, nine assists, two steals and a block) dimes. Danuel House Jr. (17 points, 6-of-14 shooting with four rebounds, three assists, a block and four treys) is the Rockets’ most improved player in the bubble and he’s providing a much needed boost as they play without Eric Gordon (ankle) for the next week. James Harden was silent most of the night due to soft double teams, but 23 points, six boards, nine assist and three triples will still get it done for most teams.

    Carmelo Anthony (15 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, two steals, a block and two triples) had a nice revenge game, including the big 3-pointer late in the fourth to put the game away. Jusuf Nurkic (18 points on 6-of-15 shooting with 19 rebounds, three assists, a steal and three blocks) was huge against the microball Rockets and should play a big role in the Blazers’ playoff fight. Gary Trent Jr. scored 16 points with four triples and is going to cement himself as a regular rotational player for many years to come. Damian Lillard (21 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, two steals and three 3-pointers) and C.J. McCollum (20 points on 8-of-18 shooting with seven rebounds, five assists and two triples) weren’t red hot, but they had enough to get the win in an ugly and intense game over the Rockets as they keep their playoff hopes alive.

     

     

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