NBA 6-Pack: Westbrook & Harden Cook Bucks
The three most recent NBA MVPs all took the court for a potential Finals preview on Sunday, and the team with two came away with the win.
While Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 36 points for the Bucks, Russell Westbrook carried the offensive load for Houston, scoring 31 points of his own.
James Harden had a solid offensive showing as well, tallying 24 points — but his clutch defense was even more important. First, a Harden steal led to a key Houston bucket in the closing minutes:
And on the subsequent possession, The Beard locked up The Greek Freak, securing the Rockets win:
Here are the rest of the Top 6 things you need to know from Sunday in the NBA:
Lillard Time took a brief break vs. Boston
Damian Lillard put on a show against the Celtics, tallying 30 points and 16 assists. In fact, he had Paul Pierce, a virtual fan for the game, sweating the entire fourth quarter:
But with Portland down 3 and 3 seconds remaining, the All-Star point guard chose to hit Jusuf Nurkic for a quick layup rather than take a contested 3-pointer.
The Blazers went on to lose the game 128-124, and afterward, Lillard questioned his decision-making:
The loss drops Portland out of the ninth seed, a half-game back of the Spurs.
Jonathan Isaac suffers scary leg injury
If you're not a basketball diehard, you might have first heard of Isaac this past week when he chose to stand during the national anthem.
The third-year forward is more than that one decision, though. He had been experiencing the best year of his young career before a left knee injury in January sidelined him for what looked to be the rest of the season.
The NBA's hiatus gave Isaac time to heal, but on Sunday, he had to be taken off the court in a wheelchair following an apparent non-contact injury to the same leg:
ESPN's Adrian Wojarowski reports the injury is a torn ACL.
Isaac's Magic teammates and players around the league offered their prayers and well wishes for the former sixth overall pick:
Here come the Spurs (and the Mavericks, too)
The last time the San Antonio Spurs missed the playoffs, Michael Jordan hadn't yet retired a second time. (Coincidentally, that was 23 years ago, during the 1996-97 season.)
Although the Spurs' inclusion in the bubble meant their 2020 postseason hopes were still technically alive, they were 4.5 games back when play restarted, in 10th place, and without LaMarcus Aldridge.
A 108-106 win over the Grizzlies, however, has San Antonio up to ninth, just two games back of the eight seed, which would be good enough to qualify for a play-in round.
(Note: we're not quite sure what The Coyote is doing in the above video.)
The Mavs, meanwhile, clinched their first playoff berth since 2015-16 with the Memphis loss.
The Wizards are down, but not completely out
That aforementioned play-in round will go into effect if ninth and eighth place are within two games of each other when the season wraps. And that's good news for Washington — because otherwise, their playoff hopes would be over.
The picture is mighty bleak for the Wizards thanks to a 118-110 loss to the Nets. Their path to the postseason is as follows:
Easy enough, right?
Zion's champing at the bit
Through two games in Orlando, the Pelicans have two losses, and Zion Williamson has played just 29 total minutes. As coach Alvin Gentry has explained, the team is taking a long-term view of things with its star rookie:
"Everyone wants to play and play right now. We try to spend time as coaches and medical people trying to let him understand that this is going to be for the best short-term and long-term really."
On Sunday, Williamson said that while he's not getting frustrated, he is anxious to get back to full speed:
The Pelicans play the Grizzlies on Monday, with New Orleans 3.5 games back of eighth-place Memphis.