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) Orlando, Brooklyn reach milestones in turnarounds by making playoffs. The last time the Brooklyn Nets made the playoffs, Kevin Garnett was on the roster.
The last time the Orlando Magic made the playoffs, Dwight Howard was their leading scorer.
On Sunday, the Nets and Magic punched their tickets to the playoffs again with wins. Those wins deserve some celebration because both franchises had long roads back from decimated positions to get here.
In Orlando, after Dwight Howard forced his way out of town in the summer of 2012 (going on to become a Lakers “legend” then entering a journeyman phase), the Magic franchise was lost in the wilderness with blown draft picks and missed opportunities. A couple of years ago, new management led by Jeff Weltman changed the direction and put Orlando on a playoff path (although we’ll have to see how that Mo Bamba pick works out). Weltman’s best move may have been hiring Steve Clifford, who improved the Orlando defense to top 10 and leaned heavily on Nikola Vucevic — that has proven a winning formula.
Vucevic, remember, came to the Magic in the four-team Dwight Howard trade. Things have come full circle.
Next season, the Magic will add Markelle Fultz to their mix, and if he can bounce back things start to really look up in Orlando. (Vucevic is a free agent this summer, which is the other storyline to watch.)
In Brooklyn, GM Sean Marks inherited a team devastated by the ownership push to win fast when the team moved out of New Jersey, which led then GM Billy King to make some lopsided trades. Marks walked in the door and had not only a decimated roster but also not many draft picks going forward to rebuild with.
However, two big Marks decisions set this team on a playoff path. The first was hiring coach Kenny Atkinson to establish the culture and develop players — the Nets play hard, move the ball, are unselfish, and it’s all a reflection of Atkinson. The second move was taking on the bad Lakers’ contract of Timofey Mozgov to get D’Angelo Russell. That move was no sure thing, Russell had shown flashes of talent but also a real lack of maturity in Los Angeles, and his inconsistent play continued into his early time in Brooklyn.
However, this year Russell blossomed into an All-Star and leader (just in time for his contract season), and the Nets are going to have to play him because Russell is now a cornerstone of what is being built in Brooklyn.
There’s still work to do in Orlando and Brooklyn to get to the top half of the East and the places both franchises want to go. However, making the playoffs is an important milestone along the way. It should be celebrated.
2) Houston breaks own record, hits 27 threes against Suns to set a new single-game mark. The Rockets are not coasting into the playoffs. Winners of six straight, they still have a shot at the two seed, they are just half a game back of the Nuggets for that spot.
That means the Rockets are still launching threes — and hitting them. Houston broke its own record on Sunday hitting 27 threes in a game.
The Rockets were 27-of-57 (47.4 percent) from beyond the arc. Houston got the win 149-113, with one more win they secure the three seed in the West. They can still get the two seed, but the Rockets will need a little help from the Nuggets to get there.
3) Warriors play last regular-season game in Oracle Arena in Oakland. No doubt the new Chase Center in San Francisco, which the Warriors will call home starting next season, will be a beautiful, gleaming new building with all the bells and whistles of a modern arena.
But it won’t be “Roar-acle.”
Sunday, the Warriors bid farewell to one of the loudest, most raucous arenas in the NBA, Oracle Arena. They did it with class, wearing the throwback jerseys of the 2007 “We Beleive” Warriors, and raising a banner celebrating the 47 years in Oakland that will hang in the Chase Center.
The Warriors also got the win and locked up the No. 1 seed in the West on Sunday.
Which means there are more memories to be made in Oracle, the Warriors should be making another deep playoff run, all the way to the Finals. The journey of that building is not yet done. But take a look back at the memories.