The race for first place in the Western Conference is over. There is a significant gap in the standings between the top three clubs, which the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, and Sacramento Kings currently hold. The fight for the fourth through tenth spots in the Western Conference is brutal. There is only a one-and-a-half-game gap between the seventh and eleventh seeds. If one of the clubs at the bottom of the standings wins or loses, it has the potential to shake up the standings completely.
Consider the example of the Los Angeles Lakers. They had finally reached.500 for the first time this season and were within striking distance of the sixth seed only a few days ago. They were riding a wave of momentum as they entered this game against the Chicago Bulls. Even before today’s game, they received a boost when LeBron James returned from a foot injury he had been nursing.
They made a terrible mistake by playing coy with the Bulls and will now have to pay the price. James barely played for 29 minutes after coming off the bench, and Anthony Davis attempted only eight shots throughout the game. When the two top players on your team can only play at 50 percent of their normal speed, a loss is almost certain to occur. They suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Bulls, which dropped them back below.500 and to the ninth slot in the Western Conference.
Before today’s game against the Golden State Warriors, the Minnesota Timberwolves were tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for first place in the Western Conference. They needed a decisive victory over the reigning champions to gain some breathing room in the race for a play-in slot and move closer to clinching an automatic berth in the playoffs.
They were successful in doing so. Karl-Anthony Towns secured the victory for his team by sinking a big game-winning 3-pointer with just twenty seconds remaining in regulation. The Timberwolves’ defensive effort was strong throughout the game. Because the rest of the squad was able to force a turnover in the previous defensive possession successfully, Towns was able to score the game-winning shot.
The Timberwolves have a record of 38-37, placing them in seventh place by themselves. Most significantly, they now trail the Warriors by only a half-game for the sixth spot, which is far closer than before.
The Boston Celtics would never lose their game against the San Antonio Spurs, now on a losing streak. It was simply a question of which Boston player would erupt for a big match today, given that the Spurs would be using their young bench rabble for most of the games to close the season.
The Celtics won by a significant margin, and Jaylen Brown was the game’s best scorer with 41 points in their victory by 44 points. Throughout the impressive effort, he had a shooting percentage of 62.1 percent and pulled down 13 rebounds.
The Dallas Mavericks are currently experiencing a skid to the bottom. They were defeated by the lowly Charlotte Hornets twice in a row, who has been battling through the season without LaMelo Ball. Luka Doncic picked up his 16th technical foul during today’s game, which resulted in him being suspended for the Mavericks’ next contest. This was a double setback for the Mavericks, who were already playing without their star player.
Doncic’s dissatisfaction with how things have been going for the Mavericks is not exactly a well-kept secret. In the most recent postgame interviews, he talked about how he needs to improve his spark. Please look at what his backcourt teammate Kyrie Irving says about Doncic’s frame of mind.
In typical Irving form, he discusses a topic beyond what is immediately apparent.