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) It was a weirdly quiet night where status quo reigns in East. Five teams for three spots. That’s the battle at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff race — four of those teams are within 1.5 games of each other with just a little more than a week left in the season, and when the music stops one of them is not going to have a chair. It’s why we have a nightly recap now of the playoff chase.
All five of those teams were in action Monday night…
And nothing happened.
Detroit, Brooklyn, Miami, Orlando, and Charlotte all lost. For a night the East followed form. That included Indiana and Boston — the two teams tied for the 4/5 seeds in the East — also both winning and remaining deadlocked.
Milwaukee bested Brooklyn because Giannis Antetokounmpo returned and scored 26 points while grabbing 11 boards, and that outdueled D’Angelo Russell for a night.
Also on Monday Indiana beat Detroit (111-102), and Toronto had little trouble with Orlando (121-109). Philadelphia, without Joel Embiid, had an ugly loss to Dallas, but the Sixers are basically locked in as the three seed so it didn’t hurt them. Aside from that, there were no upsets in the East, but it also feels like some of those teams at the bottom of the conference missed an opportunity — getting the win on a night every other team in the same fight lost would have been a huge boost.
Instead, we get the status quo.
2) Kemba Walker goes off for 47 trying to save Hornets’ playoff hopes, but it’s not enough in a loss to Jazz. Charlotte is one of those five teams battling for three playoff spots at the bottom of the East, but they are the longshot — three games out with six to play coming into the night, they needed a miracle.
Kemba Walker tried to give them one — he went off for 47 points against the feared Utah Jazz defense.
It wasn’t enough. The Hornets couldn’t get stops as Donovan Mitchell had 25, Ricky Rubio 20, and Rudy Gobert 18 in a Utah win. The Jazz wanted that win, it keeps them in the coveted fifth slot in the West playoff chase (it’s expected that hobbled Portland falls to the four seed, and that’s an easier first-round matchup… but it means the Jazz likely get the Warriors in the second round).
Charlotte is all but out of it, fivethirtyeight.com gives it a four percent chance of making the postseason.
3) Dwyane Wade was booed plenty in Boston over the years, but he got a warm send-off and a piece of the parquet. Back in Game 3 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals, Dwyane Wade took Rajon Rondo to the ground hard trying to make a play, and in the process dislocated Rondo’s elbow. That changed the series and turned Wade into a villain in Boston.
Wade was booed every time he returned to the Garden after that.
Until Monday. Wade played his final game against the Celtics on Tuesday and was given a warm and respectful ovation when he entered the game midway through the first quarter.
Before the game, Celtics president Danny Ainge gave Wade a piece of the parquet.
After the game, Wade talked about how games in the Garden and against the Celtics helped define him — and how he was touched by the gesture (hat tip NBC Sports Boston).
“I appreciate [the parquet] from Danny Ainge and the owners of the team,” said Wade. “We’ve had so many battles in the playoffs. I appreciate the respect they showed me as a player to present me with that plaque, present me with a piece of the history of the Celtics. That was so cool. I definitely didn’t expect it at all. I just want to thank them for that gesture….
“We’ve had a lot of playoff battles, a lot that I’ve lost and a lot that I’ve won,” said Wade. “This is another one of those franchises that helped myself and this organization know what it took to win and get to that next level. We had to beat this organization to get there once [Miami] developed the Big Three [with LeBron James]. Appreciate them for pushing us. They were the big brother for a long time and then we initially were able to match a little bit. We’re thankful for what they did for us from their standpoint.”