For 80 of the past 84 days, the Boston Celtics have been the highest ranked team in the NBA. Not only that: it seemed for a few stages that this first place in the regular season was yourswhich was to a well-hit ax to tie the home field factor for all the playoffs. But the point is that the green they have lost four of their last six games, are in an irregular moment (by their standards) and behind They have raised the level (each at their own pace and with their circumstances) Milwaukee Bucks, Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers. So, suddenly, we also have a fight there: after a night in which the Bucks (a Miami Heat: 123-115) and the Nuggets (a Atlanta Hawks: 128-108) won, things are like this:
There is fuss. The Nuggets, who have tied the Celtics at the top of the mountain, know how important that home court factor can be: They have won 19 of their last 20 games in the rockywhere they are 25-4. Against some Hawks without Trae Young (sick) they played cat and mouse, always sure of victory. From 70-52 at halftime to a 15-2 run when the Hawks got a little closer (from 109-101 to 124-103). Nikola Jokic (14 points, 18 rebounds, 10 assists) added his third triple-double in a row, nine in eleven games and 94 already in the regular season. But the night was the definitive confirmation, in case it was necessary, that Jamal Murray is back, in his best version: 41 points, 7 assists and 15/24 shooting with 7/12 3-pointers. Also, 15+6+4 by Aaron Gordon, exceptional small for everything23 points from Michael Porter Jr and more strides from rookies Christian Braun, with an increasingly clear role. The only bad news, the injury (ankle sprain, in principle) of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. In the Hawks (27-27, eighth in the East), 28 points and 10 assists from Dejounte Murray and 20 points from Hunter.
Before, in Wisconsin, the Bucks had overcome the Miami Heat with problems but finally with authority, who arrived tired (1-3 in four games away) and who only had, without Lowry or Oladipo, nine players available. Even so, Spoelstra’s men managed to make the rubber after a disastrous start (34-26 the first quarter). Triples in the second set, heroics by Jimmy Butler in the third… but little in the decisive minutes, when Jrue Holiday joined the Giannis Antetokounmpo’s party, who finished with 35 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists. The Bucks have won seven straighta streak in which Giannis averages 39.4, 14.7 and 5.
With Spoelstra accumulating players to stop him, the Greek found the shooters: 8 triples between Connaughton and Allen. Furthermore, the reliability of Jrue and increasingly better sensations from Khris Middleton, this time yes (24+7+4 in 20 minutes). After difficult weeks and injury problems, the Bucks are slowly approaching their best version. We will see if at the most opportune moment. In the Heat (29-25, sixth in the East), 32 points from Butler and 24 with 24 shots from Tyler Herro. Bam Adebayo finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 8 assists.
The Nets pull with pride against the Wizards
An incredible game was played in Brooklyn, charged with emotion and with an absolutely rarefied environment due to the absence of Kyrie Irving, officially due to some physical problems that were actually the (scarce) necessary cover for what seems to be an imminent transfer since there has been no agreement for a contract extension. the nets they didn’t have Kyrie, whose absence was actually a gigantic presence, and they didn’t have Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and TJ Warren either. And they lost Seth Curry and Markieff Morris during the match. And yet, they rallied by 23 points and beat the Washington Wizards (125-123), the first team in a quarter of a century to lose two games in 24 hours in which they had at least a 20-point lead in both. Without Bradley Beal and almost from the beginning without Kyle Kuzma, with ankle problems, those from the capital fell into the void just like on Friday against the Blazers and remain at 24-28.
The Nets, miraculously, are still in the East quarters, ahead of the Cavaliers. For what it could happen. They lost 25-44 the first quarter, lifeless after what had been a very difficult few hours, again with the whole project in the flesh, alive, on the wire. But they put together admirably and they turned the game around. Cam Thomas lived In the night of his life: 44 points for a player who lives with the eternal feeling that he should play more. Edmond Sumner, similar: 29 points for him. Nic Claxton finished with 15, 13 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 blocks. For the Wizards, 38 points from Kristaps Porzingis, who ended up very disappointed, 23 from Avdija and 18 from Monte Morris, who was able to tie the game from the free throw line, with two seconds remaining. But he missed, and the Nets celebrated a very special victory… without Durant or Kyrie in the arena. Everything is like this, specialin this franchise.