Today there were three games between teams in the Eastern Conference playoff picture that could impact seeding or qualifying for the playoffs later on this season.
Two of the three games came down to the wire as each team competing knew exactly what was at stake. Obviously, there is still over 20 games left in the season, but you never know how important matchups like these ones tonight could affect things down the road.
Take a look at each result and what it means for the playoff picture today…
Indiana Pacers 119, Washington Wizards 112
– Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) February 24, 2019
Pacers: Thaddeus Young – 22 points (9-11 FG, 1-1 3PT), four rebounds, three assists, one steal
Wizards: Bradley Beal – 35 points (12-22 FG, 3-8 3PT, 8-8 FT), six assists, three rebounds, two steals
Everybody counted out the Pacers once it was announced Victor Oladipo would be out for season. They lost four consecutive games but rallied together to win six straight.
They lost to the Bucks before the All-Star Break but had a huge comeback win over the Pelicans on Friday and took care of business on the road against the Wizards tonight.
Following tonight’s win they remain in third place in the East, 2.0 games ahead of the 76ers and 2.5 games ahead of the Celtics. They’ve given themselves a nice lead on attempting to have home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
On the flipside of things, it was another frustrating loss for the Wizards – Beal scored a season-high 46 in a loss against the Hornets on Saturday then dropped 35 in a loss tonight. They are slipping further and further out of the playoff hunt, 5.0 games back of the No. 8 seed.
Brooklyn Nets 117, Charlotte Hornets 115
When the game was on the line, @Dloading took matters into his own hands.
A career-high-tying 4️⃣0️⃣ points for DLo on his 23rd birthday 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/FDYmpzURXf
– Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) February 24, 2019
Nets: D’Angelo Russell – 40 points (14-31 FG, 6 3PM, 6-6 FT), seven assists
Hornets: Kemba Walker – 32 points (12-28 FG, 6 3PM), three assists, two steals
The Hornets let this one slip away and it could be costly down the line. They led by seven points with just under four minutes to go before Russell went crazy.
On his birthday nonetheless, Russell scored 12 consecutive points for the Nets down the stretch to take the lead and ultimately win the game. This win was timely as the Nets (currently the No. 6 seed) created more separation from the Hornets (currently the No. 7 seed).
The Nets have won two out of three games over the Hornets and hold the tiebreaker, but there is still one more matchup between these two this season.
Brooklyn now has a 4.0 game-lead over the Miami Heat, the first team out of the East playoff picture. The Hornets now slide down to the No. 8 seed after the Detroit Pistons picked up a win tonight.
Detroit Pistons 119, Miami Heat 96
– Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) February 24, 2019
Pistons: Ish Smith – 22 points (8-9 FG, 1-1 3PT), nine assists, two rebounds, one steal
Heat: Josh Richardson – 22 points (8-16 FG, 2-6 3PT), three rebounds, two assists
The Heat let one slip away from them on their home court in a game that was crucial to get their unofficial second half of the season going in the right direction.
Trailing by eight going into the final quarter, they were outscored 35-20 in the fourth to lose by 23 points. The Pistons’ bench unit stepped up in a big way, outperforming the Heat’s second unit by a score of 66-35.
With the win Detroit slides ahead of the Hornets to take the No. 7 seed, positioning themselves for a first round playoff matchup against the Toronto Raptors – a chance for Dwane Casey to get revenge on his old team.
They are 0.5 games ahead of the Hornets, but gave themselves a 2.0 game cushion over the first team out of the playoff picture. It is worth noting that the Hornets have won the season series against the Pistons and hold any tiebreaker.
As for the Heat, they’ve lost two in a row dropping them to 10th in the conference, 1.5 games behind No. 8 seeded Charlotte. If Dwyane Wade wants to make one more postseason appearance, Miami will have to get things kickstarted with a win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday before facing off against the Golden State Warriors on Thursday.