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Three Things to Know: Russell Westbrook steps into history books with 100th triple double

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Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.

1) Russell Westbrook joins Hall of Fame company with 100th triple-double. Oscar Robertson. Magic Johnson. Jason Kidd.

And now Russell Westbrook.

The 100 triple-double club is small and filled with some of the best to ever play the game. Westbrook got his 100th triple-double Tuesday night vs. Atlanta, racking up 32 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds during an easy Thunder win.

For those of you scoring at home, that’s a league-leading 21 triple-doubles this season for Westbrook, coming on the heels of last season when he averaged a triple-double for the entire season (and won the MVP award).

Robertson owns the record for most triple-doubles in a career with 181. Is that a number Westbrook can hit? Can Westbrook average 20 triple-doubles for four more seasons beyond this one? It’s a big ask, but tell Westbrook he can’t do something and he’s likely to do it.

2) Injury updates: Kevin Love could be back on the court before Stephen Curry or Kawhi Leonard.
At this point in the season, playoff-bound teams prioritize getting healthy and entering the postseason rested over everything else — unless they need to worry about just making the playoffs. That brings us to our injury updates of three key players, and we will go in projected order of return.

Kevin Love could return to the Cleveland Cavaliers lineup next week. He has been out with a fractured hand since Jan. 30, but when I saw him the other day in Los Angeles (while the Cavaliers were in town for a couple games) he was working out and getting shots up with the cast off. He says he will be back next week — and the Cavaliers need him. They are 2-2 so far on a seven-game road trip, and their offense lacks anyone outside LeBron James who can be trusted to create shots or get consistent buckets. Love helps with those issues. Plus they need time to integrate him into the rotation — he’s been out since before the trade deadline and Tyronn Lue needs to see where Love fits with Larry Nance Jr. and the rest of the new Cavaliers.

Stephen Curry will remain out the rest of this week and be re-evaluated March 20. The Warriors are not falling below the two seed in the West, they don’t care about catching Houston for the top seed, and they have a soft schedule the rest of the way — there is no reason to rush Curry back from his third ankle injury of the season. Let Kevin Durant rack up numbers, the Warriors epitomize the kind of team focused on health and rest over everything else right now.

Kawhi Leonard will be back when his own medical team clears him to return. Nobody knows when that will be — not even Gregg Popovich. Like any smart player with a significant injury, Leonard got a second opinion from someone other than the team doctor (team doctors are generally very good at their job, but they are paid by the team and that can create a conflict of interest). It’s not the Spurs doctors, it’s Leonard’s doctors who have not cleared him fully yet. Leonard is frustrated, the Spurs are frustrated, but he will be back when he is back. Whenever that will be.

3) West playoff update after Tuesday: Denver loss to Lakers a tough setback. In a brutal Western Conference playoff race, the cardinal sin is losing to below .500 teams — which makes the Lakers the ultimate spoilers. They are a below .500 team that is playing like a playoff team, having gone 20-12 in 2018 (and 20-9 since LaVar Ball said the guys were not playing for Luke Walton).

Denver found that out the hard way in a 112-103 loss that included Isaiah Thomas making a little jab at Jamal Murry on the final play.

The loss drops the Nuggets to the 10 seed, a game back of the Spurs and Jazz who are tied for the eighth seed and final playoff spot. Both San Antonio (108-72) and Utah (110-79) had comfortable wins over non-playoff teams on Tuesday night.

In other West action, Minnesota beat Washington, Oklahoma City easily beat Atlanta (Westbrook’s triple-double game), the Clippers beat the Bulls, and the Pelicans beat the Hornets. All of that means there was little movement in the West playoff standings on Tuesday night, save for Denver taking a step back.

NBA playoff schedule 2020: Date, time, matchup for every game

NBA playoff schedule 2020
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And there were four.

The NBA is down to the conference finals — and the bubble has provided us with upsets galore. There are some unexpected teams in the NBA’s Final Four, but of course LeBron James is still there. The Lakers are the heavy favorites at this point.

Here are a few notes on the NBA playoffs schedule 2020:

• The NBA is continuing to push the pace with games every other day — except in the East, when ESPN wants a break not to clash with the NFL, and to let the West catch up. The fast pace of games will return with the NBA Finals.
Families for the players, and with the final four now the coaches, are in the bubble.
• The NBA has released an NBA Finals schedule to teams and their target is still a Sept. 30 Game 1. If either conference finals goes seven games that date will need to be pushed back.

Here is the NBA playoffs schedule 2020 (all times are Eastern):

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 3 Boston Celtics vs. No. 5 Miami Heat

Game 1: Heat 117, Celtics 114, OT
Game 2: Heat 106, Celtics 101
Game 3: Celtics 117, Heat 106
Game 4: Heat 112, Celtics 109 (Miami leads series 3-1)
Game 5: Sept. 25, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 6: Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
Game 7: TBD (ESPN)*
*If necessary

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 3 Denver Nuggets

Game 1: Lakers 126, Nuggets 114
Game 2: Lakers 105, Nuggets 103
Game 3: Nuggets 114, Lakers 106 (Lakers lead series 2-1)
Game 4: Sept. 24, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 5: Sept. 26, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 6: Sept. 28, TBD (TNT)*
Game 7: Sept. 30, TBD (TNT)*
*If necessary

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Second Round results

Eastern Conference

No. 3 Boston beat No. 2 Toronto 4-3

No. 5 Miami beat No. 1 Milwaukee 4-1

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston 4-1

No. 3 Denver beat No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers 4-3

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: First Round results

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat No. 8 Portland 4-1

No. 2 L.A. Clippers beat No. 7 Dallas 4-2

No. 3 Denver beat No. 6 Utah 4-3

No. 4 Houston beat No. 5 Oklahoma City 4-3

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Milwaukee beat No. 8 Orlando 4-1

No. 2 Toronto beat No. 7 Brooklyn 4-0

No. 3 Boston beat No. 6 Philadelphia 4-0

No. 5 Miami beat No. 4 Indiana 4-0

PBT Podcast: Which players’ stock rose most in the bubble?

Jamal Murray Donovan Mitchell
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In the wake of Tyler Herro looking like the best offensive player Miami has seen since some guy decided to go back home to Cleveland, the question becomes what players have helped themselves the most in the bubble, and in the playoffs in particular?

Not coincidentally, Miami and Denver have a lot of those players, with the Nuggets Jamal Murray probably topping the list.

Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports get into that, talk some Boston/Miami series, and also talk about the recent coaching carousel including Billy Donovan to Chicago and the fact no team has hired a Black coach this offseason.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Juancho Hernangomez missing Timberwolves workouts to film Adam Sandler movie

Timberwolves forward Juancho Hernangomez
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The Timberwolves, like the other seven teams not invited to the NBA’s restart at Disney World, are holding workouts.

Not in Minnesota: Forward Juancho Hernangomez.

Chris Hine of the StarTribune:

A team spokesperson said Hernangomez is filming Adam Sandler’s latest project in Philadelphia.

Netflix is producing the film, called “Hustle.”

And people thought LeBron James – also a producer of “Hustle,” which is about a basketball scout who finds talent oversees – prioritized Hollywood over hoops.

A Spain native, Hernangomez will be a free agent this offseason. The Timberwolves can make him restricted.

But how could anyone want a player who doesn’t respect the sanctity of voluntary workouts occurring several months before next season (besides his 3-point shooting, rebounding and defensive versatility)?

Buddy Hield fuels 76ers trade rumor

Kings guard Buddy Hield vs. 76ers
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A rumor emerged about the Kings trading Buddy Hield to the 76ers. It didn’t seem particularly credible.

But then Hield himself liked this Instagram post promoting a potential trade and apparently made a pro-Philadelphia comment on Instagram:

Hield previously laid the groundwork for an offseason trade request. He seemed unhappy at times in Sacramento this season, losing his starting job and even riding the bench when the Kings needed a 3-pointer.

The 76ers could use more shooting – especially if they hire Mike D’Antoni. Hield would definitely add value. A lineup where Hield and Josh Richardson defend guards and Ben Simmons plays point guard offensively and defends a frontcourt player is intriguing.

Hield is set to earn $24,931,817 next season in the first year of a four-year extension. That’s in the range of Tobias Harris ($34,358,850) and Al Horford ($27,500,000).

However, Horford’s trade value is at rock bottom. Tobias Harris would add only so much value to Sacramento, which already has Harrison Barnes.

Kings fans can hope for Ben Simmons ($28,750,000) or Joel Embiid ($29,542,010). But those stars are FAR more valuable than Hield. Besides, the 76ers said they wouldn’t trade Simmons or Embiid (though it’s unclear who exactly is running the show in Philadelphia).

Regardless of whether the Kings and 76ers could connect on a trade, Hield making these public gestures is an issue in Sacramento. It’s on new Kings general manager Monte McNair to manage this. After years of supporting Daryl Morey with the Rockets, this is a new challenge – being in charge while a player makes waves – for McNair.

Relatedly, McNair must also handle Bogdan Bogdanovic‘s impending restricted free agency. These look like warning shots from Hield as Sacramento determines its priorities at shooting guard.