NBA insider takeaways - What issues most from a stacked weekend slate

This weekend options 5 extreme-stakes NBA showdowns on ESPN and ABC.

The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers confronted off in an limitless japanese convention tilt Saturday night in a recreation that obtained here proper down to a remaining-second three-pointer by Jayson Tatum — and a three-quarters-court docket Hail Mary by Joel Embiid which might have despatched the sport to overtime if it was made solely a tenth of a second earlier.

On Sunday, the Milwaukee Bucks topped the (nonetheless Kevin Durant-much less) Phoenix Suns to enhance their worthwhile streak to 14 video games — even with Giannis Antetokounmpo sidelined with a quad damage.

The l. a. Lakers effectively mounted a 27-level comeback in opposition to the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday afternoon on the again of a monster 30/15 recreation from Anthony Davis, persevering with their late-season push into the playoff picture.

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Golden State Warriors will battle to hold related inside the playoff picture at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, as each teams have been headed inside the fallacious path.

The Denver Nuggets and LA Clippers will finish off the weekend Sunday night at 10 ET on ESPN. on this 12 months’s broad-open Western convention, this matchup might even be a attainable playoff preview.

ESPN NBA insiders are breaking down the best storylines from a stacked weekend.


It mustn’t be so laborious for a staff with two of basketball’s best creators to get a shot off on most seemingly the most important second of a recreation. however it has been an massive draw again for the Dallas Mavericks inside the infancy levels of the partnership between Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

there is a protracted itemizing of motive why the Mavs blew a 27-level lead Sunday afternoon in opposition to the la Lakers, who pulled off the largest comeback of the season on Dallas’ dwelling court docket. however it obtained here proper down to clutch execution, or lack thereof, and the All-Star duo did not full for the third time in 4 video games collectively.

This event was particularly egregious. coming out of a timeout trailing by three factors with 18.1 seconds remaining, Doncic dedicated a turnover as a consequence of he forgot that he might go into the backcourt to catch an inbounds go.

“it is my dangerous,” Doncic mentioned postgame.

Doncic additionally took the blame after a Feb. eleven loss to the Sacramento Kings, saying he ought to have handed the ball again to a scorching Irving rather than firing up a troublesome step again down three factors with seconds remaining in overtime. They shared the blame after a Feb. thirteen dwelling loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, after they handed the ball forwards and backwards simply a few occasions earlier than committing a turnover with the sport on the highway, displaying an extreme quantity of mutual respect.

“it is solely a course of,” Irving mentioned Sunday. “i suppose as a lot as i would love for it to work and for us to be on the worthwhile side — i suppose he want to be on the worthwhile side as properly — we have gotten simply a few video games collectively. clearly, inside the second half of this season, all the things goes to be barely extra heightened stress-clever. We welcome that, however as quickly as extra, our errors and issues that we’re studying are going to be in recreation.

“laborious classes that we’ll take, however the method itself is one factor that i can not be mad at or be indignant at or be confused about who’s fault it is or something like that.”

Tim MacMahon


regardless of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s latest damage woes, the Milwaukee Bucks carry on rolling. They secured their 14th consecutive victory Sunday afternoon, a 104-a hundred and one victory over the Phoenix Suns to enhance the longest worthwhile streak inside the NBA this season.

Antetokounmpo was sidelined Sunday after leaving every of the earlier two video games inside the major quarter with an damage, however Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer mentioned earlier than the sport the staff was assured Antetokounmpo’s quad damage would hold him out solely for simply a few days.

however the Bucks have been larger than succesful these days of extending their worthwhile streak with out the two-time MVP, due to a mix of lockdown protection and a roster that is out of the blue as deep as any contender inside the league.

Jrue journey led the method by which with 33 factors, 5 assists and 4 rebounds whereas offering relentless protection down the stretch on Suns guard Devin Booker. the combination of journey’s efforts, Brook Lopez as a defensive drive inside the paint and Khris Middleton’s offensive execution down the stretch allowed the Bucks to answer each time the Suns made a run.

Milwaukee outscored Phoenix thirteen-6 in clutch time to safe the win, collectively with six factors from journey, a pair of well timed assists from Middleton and well timed rim safety from Lopez — the Suns shot 5-for-sixteen all afternoon when contested by Lopez.

all by clutch time, Phoenix went 2-for-7 from the sphere for seven factors whereas the Bucks transformed 4 of 5 photographs.

however it wasn’t simply the Bucks stars that confirmed as a lot as lead the staff to victory Sunday.

additionally they obtained a significant contribution from commerce deadline acquisition Jae Crowder, who hit a pair of nook 3s inside the fourth quarter in opposition to his former staff. Veteran forward Joe Ingles, who did not make his season debut till December whereas recovering from a torn ACL, was figured into Milwaukee’s closing lineup plans Sunday.

The Bucks returned their extreme 9 rotation gamers from final 12 months’s squad and had been ready so as to add each Crowder and Ingles with out making any subtractions to that rotation. Antetokounmpo was having fun with at a stage worthy of MVP consideration by the major half earlier than the damage, and as quickly as he is again inside the combination at full power, this Bucks roster seems to be deep enough to assist their star for an further prolonged playoff run.

“one in all many deepest teams I’ve ever been a component of,” Crowder mentioned after Sunday’s recreation. “We’re all aware of it and we’re all being selfless in our roles and sacrificing for every fully different … So I simply catch myself trying like, ‘goodness gracious it is a deep staff.’ We obtained rather pretty a little bit of numerous combos that we will throw out.”

Jamal Collier


For pretty a little bit of this season, the Celtics have had a rotating forged of characters occurring and off the damage report on a nightly basis. as a outcomes of that, there have not been too many occasions when newly promoted coach Joe Mazzulla has wished to get your hands on out strategies to dole out minutes throughout the NBA’s deepest roster.

coming out of the All-Star break, although, Boston is lastly complete. and since of this, it is led to some laborious selections. If Saturday night’s a hundred and ten-107 win over the Philadelphia 76ers proved something, however, it is that Mazzulla would not have a different about one factor: Derrick White has to hold an integral a component of what Boston is doing.

White accomplished Saturday night’s win with an almost flawless line: 18 factors on 7-for-9 capturing with a rebound, two assists, a block and no turnovers in 25 minutes. rather extra telling: Boston was plus-25 in these 25 minutes White was on the court docket.

in lots of methods, White is emblematic of all the things this Celtics staff is about.

White is simply not a flashy participant. He would not throw down spotlight dunks or make current-stopping passes. however what he does do — and do persistently — is stack one worthwhile play on extreme of one other. he is performed that repeatedly in latest weeks, permitting Boston to hold churning out victories even whereas Marcus smart and Jaylen Brown each missed important time with ankle and facial accidents, respectively.

And but, over the remaining couple of minutes of Thursday’s overtime win in opposition to Indiana and for all however the remaining few seconds of Saturday night’s win in Philly, White was watching from the bench. as quickly as extra, there are laborious selections to make throughout the board — one in all many apparent advantages of getting a roster simply like the one Mazzulla has at his disposal.

however with the method by which White has performed, he is larger than making a case that he should be one in all many 5 guys on the market inside the sport’s largest moments and that, it would not matter what occurs with Mazzulla’s rotation, he should be a massive a component of it.

— Tim Bontemps


When people take into consideration recreation 7 of the japanese convention semifinal collection between the 76ers and Toronto Raptors in 2019, they take into account Kawhi Leonard‘s miraculous recreation-worthwhile shot.

What they do not take into account is that, in a recreation Philadelphia misplaced by two factors, Greg Monroe was minus-9 in two minutes performed.

equally, when people will suppose again on Saturday night’s immediate traditional between the Boston Celtics and 76ers at Wells Fargo center, they’re going to take into consideration Jayson Tatum’s great stepback three-pointer with 1.three seconds to go … and Joel Embiid’s 70-foot heave that went in, solely to not rely as a consequence of he let it go a second after the buzzer sounded.

What they will not take into account is that, in a recreation Philadelphia misplaced by three factors, Paul Reed was minus-14 in 5 minutes.

on the matter of the 76ers and the backup-center minutes behind Embiid, time is a flat circle. regardless of what quantity of numerous methods Philadelphia has tried to unravel the draw again — and, boy, have the 76ers tried to unravel it. they’re no nearer to it as we communicate than they had been when Embiid first stepped on the court docket seven years in the past.

The irony of Saturday night’s loss for Philadelphia is that two massive causes the 76ers blew what as quickly as was a 15-level lead had been the 76ers falling aside when Reed was on the floor rather than Embiid, and Al Horford — as quickly as given over $a hundred million to make sure Philadelphia would on a daily basis have a superb center on the court docket, and who’s having fun with inside the remaining 12 months of that contract the 76ers gave him — hitting 5 second-half three-pointers.

Embiid was dominant all by Saturday’s recreation. He accomplished with forty one factors, 12 rebounds, 5 assists and three blocked photographs in 39 minutes, forty nine seconds. He was the best participant on the court docket, and he was unstoppable at any time when he obtained the ball.

And but, like so many occasions earlier than, Philadelphia might not handle to maintain on inside the couple of minutes he wasn’t on the court docket. If the 76ers want to jot down a particular ending than having a fifth second-spherical exit in six seasons, they’re going to want to lastly uncover an reply to their everlasting dilemma: surviving the handful of minutes Embiid should sit down.

— Bontemps


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