Play-in event battle heats up, MVP debate appears settled

By some means, it’s already Could and the NBA is in its ultimate month of the common season.

Extra particularly, in nearly three weeks’ time, the play-in tournaments will get going, kicking off the league’s gruelling two-month post-season.

Regardless of the common season’s finish in sight, there’s nonetheless lots of chaos available with groups jockeying for place with each other.

And say what you’ll concerning the play-in event taking place within the midst of a season performed throughout a pandemic, the truth that we’re nonetheless speaking about post-season races and that there are necessary and aggressive video games being performed each night time this late into the common season is proof that this new occasion is working.

The truth that we’ve groups desperately making an attempt to each keep away from dropping into play-in event place and others doing all they will to make the play-in event provides added worth to an NBA common season that, fairly frankly, has typically been moderately unimportant and unexciting to followers except you had been cheering for a shock crew on the rise or had the posh of supporting a official top-tier contender.

Now, as a result of volatility of a one-and-done format within the play-in event, the concept of getting in and presumably making some noise seems to be extra viable and the same old slog on the finish of the common season now seems to be extra of a enjoyable and fascinating dash to look at.

Right here’s a have a look at how we view the league with the end line in view:

Jokic is the MVP and there isn’t actually a lot debate available

As per typical round this time of the season, the MVP debate has picked up. However for as a lot as folks need to say the it’s a good race with many deserving candidates comparable to Joel Embiid or Stephen Curry, the clear alternative is clearly Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets.

A robust candidate for the award even earlier than his Canadian stud teammate Jamal Murray was sadly pressured to close down for the season with a knee damage, what Jokic has carried out since Murray went down has all however gained the award for him.

Within the 15 video games the Nuggets have performed since Murray’s damage, Jokic is averaging 25.9 factors, 10.9 rebounds and eight.3 assists on 57.5-per cent capturing from the sphere. Throughout this span, the Nuggets have gone 12-3, together with an enormous street win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday that noticed Jokic put up a monstrous line of 30 factors, 14 rebounds and 7 assists.

When his crew has wanted it most, Jokic has risen to the event, preserving the Nuggets’ championship desires alive and effectively.

There is no such thing as a debate. Jokic is the MVP.

Clippers hitting a bother spot?

Kawhi Leonard has mentioned that he’s been enjoying by a foot damage lately. The famous person ahead mentioned it was “nothing vital” however seeing as his Clippers have misplaced three straight video games his damage could possibly be trigger for extra concern than he or the crew is letting on.

This slide that the Clippers are in has allowed the red-hot Nuggets to leapfrog them for No. 3 within the Western Convention. Extra importantly, going by this poor spell with their common season about to finish and presumably coping with Leonard damage isn’t an awesome look.

For his or her sakes, right here’s hoping these three losses are only a small blip on the finish of the season and never the early phases of a nasty development for them.

Why the play-in event is definitely fairly neat

Proper now within the Western Convention there’s a three-way tie between the Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks and Portland Path Blazers for fifth within the convention.

Because the standings formally shake out proper now, Dallas is the No. 5 seed because it’s a division chief with the Lakers coming in sixth and the Blazers at No. 7 as a result of the Lakers personal a greater convention document than Portland.

This battle between these three groups ought to show to be among the many most fascinating because the season concludes as every crew needs to keep away from the play-in event.

LeBron James and the Lakers, particularly, aren’t eager on having to play within the play-in event, with James criticizing the occasion after a loss to the Toronto Raptors Sunday night time.

“Whoever got here up with that [expletive] must be fired,” James advised reporters of the play-in event.

As salty as James is about the entire thing, the Lakers have solely themselves guilty for the mess they’re in. Sure, they had been with out James and Anthony Davis for a time, however the truth stays that they’ve misplaced six of their final seven video games and are 1-5 since Davis’ return to the lineup, and now 0-2 since James rejoined the crew on Friday.

That’s not good, and with the Blazers now having gained 4 straight video games and enjoying a few of their greatest ball of the season only a week after trying useless within the water, the very potential actuality of getting to undergo a one-and-done recreation is sinking in for James and the Lakers. And whereas it’s comprehensible why they wouldn’t prefer it, it’s extra proof as to why the play-in event is a enjoyable and thrilling thought — opposite to what James thinks.

No luck of the Irish for Boston

The Boston Celtics have been some of the disappointing groups this season and now, after shedding 4 of their final six video games, discover themselves in seventh place within the Jap Convention and reeling.

Boston’s disastrous season was painfully and poetically summed up throughout their recreation Sunday night time with the Blazers, a 129-119 loss, when star duo Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown collided with one another with about 40 seconds left to play within the recreation.

The excellent news for Boston is that Tatum appeared nice after the sport, however the identical can’t be mentioned of Brown who limped off the courtroom with out placing any weight on his proper leg.

It’s been one disaster after one other for the Celtics all season lengthy and an damage to Brown with the post-season simply across the nook feels just like the icing on what’s been a really crappy cake for them.

Trying elsewhere at this tier, in significantly better information, sensational Charlotte Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball managed to return to the lineup Sunday after being out since March 20 with a fractured wrist.

The shoe-in for rookie of the yr regarded like he didn’t miss a beat as he completed Sunday’s contest towards the Miami Warmth with 14 factors, six rebounds and 5 assists.

Classic Lowry retains Raptors slim play-in hopes alive

Kyle Lowry turned again the clock Sunday as he delivered a classic efficiency, scoring 37 factors and dropping 11 dimes whereas going 8-of-13 from three-point vary to assist the Toronto Raptors hold their play-in desires alive, if even just a bit.

Lowry’s efficiency served as a superb reminder of what the Lakers doubtless missed out on after they reportedly had been unwilling to half methods with Talen Horton-Tucker to make a take care of the Raptors for Lowry on the commerce deadline.

Unsure that call labored out too effectively for the Lakers there.

The Raptors solely have seven video games left and are 2.5 video games again of the Tenth-place Washington Wizards. That’s not lots of time to make up that type of floor — notably with how effectively the Wizards have performed of late — but when Lowry’s in a position to dial up a number of extra performances just like the one we noticed Sunday then there’s nonetheless an opportunity the Raptors simply would possibly be capable to pull this off.

Out of post-season competition

Congratulations to those groups on a tank job effectively carried out.

Specifically, the Houston Rockets’ full ineptitude has them within the driver’s seat proper now to ensure themselves to be one of many three groups with the perfect odds for the No. 1 general choose.

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