Post Up: March Madness

Bulls 91 (31-33), Magic 98 (24-41)

Orlando is not tanking. They have shown every indication of trying to win ballgames since the All-Star break.

Although Nik Vucevic has missed the last two games with an achilles flare up, the Magic have found a way to get the offense going.

His name is Elfrid Payton, who has triple-doubled in two consecutive games.

Nets 105 (11-52), Hawks 110 (35-29)

Atlanta may look like a solid No. 5 seed, but if the Pacers, Heat or even the Bucks can make a strong push through the final 20 games, ATL could fall in the standings.

Since the break, the Hawks have a record of 3-5 and their offense has been the sixth-worst in the L.

There have been some bright spots, namely Tim Hardaway Jr, who’s thriving in the sixth man role and making a case for a big payday this summer.

Hornets 101 (28-36), Heat 108 (31-34)

Since the All-Star break, Miami has played like the best team in the Eastern Conference. They’re outscoring opponents by an average of 10.5 points per 100 possessions.

They’re taking good care of the ball and rebounding at a high rate.

And of course, they have Mr. Ice in His Veins himself, Dion Waiters.

Knicks 93 (26-39), Bucks 104 (30-33)

Three words: Giannis is unfair.

Milwaukee has turned things around since the break, going 5-3. Khris Middleton’s return has been a huge help, and Malcolm “The Prez” Brogdon has been really solid as a starter.

But they’re getting beat badly on the boards, which could be a real issue down the stretch as they fight for a playoff spot.

Raptors 94 (38-26), Pelicans 87 (25-40)

Toronto has struggled to score without Kyle Lowry, but they’ve remained a good defensive team in his absence.

The Pelicans have been atrocious on offense since the break, coming in dead last (by a mile) in offensive rating, despite having the Twin Towers.

Jonas Valanciunas played a big part in neutralizing New Orleans’ front line, giving Toronto 25 points and 13 boards on the night.

Jazz 115 (41-24), Rockets 108 (44-21)

The West’s No. 3 and No. 4 seeds went head-to-head in Houston, and this one really wasn’t even all that close.

Utah led for mostly the entire game, shot 54 percent from the field and controlled the glass.

Houston was missing Ryan Anderson, so their small lineups had no chance against Utah’s height and length.

Clippers 91 (38-26), T-Wolves 107 (26-37)

Check these stats out. Since the All-Star break, Minnesota has been the best defensive team in the League (97.3 defensive rating) and best rebounding team in the L (56.1 rebounding percentage).

Karl-Anthony Towns is averaging 27.7 points on 64 percent shooting with 16.4 rebounds per game. He’s doing stuff like this every night:

And to make things even more interesting, they signed Lance Stephenson to a second 10-day deal. And he’ll be doing stuff like this on the regular.

It may have taken several months, but the T-Wolves are officially the League Pass squad that everyone thought they’d be before the season.

Pistons 98 (31-33), Pacers 115 (33-31)

Indiana blew the game open with a 20-5 run to the end the third quarter.

Paul George had 13 of his 21 points in the period.

Kings 104 (25-39), Spurs 114 (50-13)

San Antonio was down by 28 points with roughly 4 minutes left in the second quarter, and they eventually took back the lead around mid-way through the fourth.

Even with Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge resting, the Spurs found a way to complete the largest comeback in franchise history.

They’re also just a game-and-a-half away the the No. 1 overall seed—and homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs.

Wizards 123 (39-24), Nuggets 113 (29-35)

Washington built a 24-point lead by the third quarter, and it was too much for Denver to overcome.

The Nuggets struggled without their star big man Nikola Jokic, who was out with an illness.

Mason Plumlee started in Jokic’s place and put up a nice line of 19, 10 and 5, but will probably be sore from this kick by Markieff Morris tomorrow:

Celtics 99 (41-24), Warriors 86 (52-12)

Boston held the Warriors to just 12 points in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Dubs by 15 in the final frame.

Golden State has actually has a negative point differential on the season during the fourth quarter—something you wouldn’t expect from the team with the best record in the League.

Stephen Curry had 23 points by the end of the third quarter, and probably started talking trash prematurely when he nailed this buzzer-beater against Jaylen Brown.

Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart made the Warrior backcourt work for everything they got, and Isaiah Thomas provided the scoring punch with 25.