NBA: Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers aim to finish season in style
The NBA looks set for one of its most chaotic finishes in recent years. There are still plenty of issues to be decided. We will preview some of the week’s best games, which include Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns v Portland Trail Blazers, and Los Angeles Lakers v Indiana Pacers.
Miami Heat push Boston Celtics towards NBA play-in tournament
The latest regular-season stretch of NBA games will have massive implications. Miami Heat, who are sixth in the Eastern Conference standings at the time of writing, claimed a 130-124 victory on the road against the Boston Celtics last weekend. The Heat settled quickly. They were successful with 16 of their 25 three-pointer attempts, and they dictated the pace of the game.
Evan Fournier top-scored for the Celtics with 30 points, however, it was the Heat who were 36-23 ahead after the first quarter. As a result, the Celtics look set to qualify for their first-ever play-in NBA tournament. The top six teams from each conference qualify automatically for the play-offs, while teams positioned 7-10 enter the play-in. The Celtics are currently seventh in the Eastern Conference.
Miami Heat send out statement in win over Boston Celtics
In sweeping aside the Celtics, the Heat sent out a statement of intent to their rivals. They will face a serious test of their credentials in the early hours of Friday morning, when they take on the Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia 76ers. The 76ers are poised to finish the regular season as Eastern Conference champions and the Heat have to be wary of Joel Embiid.
Philadelphia 76ers continue winning streak
The 76ers are finishing the season in the same manner as they started it. In thrashing the Detroit Pistons 118-104 last Sunday, the Sixers moved closer to nailing down the No.1 seed for the play-offs. Embiid drained 29 points, and more significantly, the Sixers clinched their eighth victory to the trot. They will be the ones to watch in the play-offs!
Phoenix Suns fade in defeat to Los Angeles Lakers
The Phoenix Suns were overwhelmed last Sunday. The Los Angeles Lakers ran out 123-110 victors, and Anthony Davis led the way with 42 points and 12 rebounds. The result reduced the Suns’ chances of overhauling Utah Jazz. The Suns are currently two games behind the Jazz with four games remaining, and the Suns — who are second in the Western Conference — are 48-20 for the season.
Chris Paul having a ball in the valley with Phoenix Suns
Chris Paul has revitalized the Suns this season. He’s even been spoken of in the same breath as Charles Barkley, who enjoyed a productive four-year spell with the Suns. Prior to Sunday’s defeat to the Lakers, Paul’s stats were impressive. He had averaged just over 16 points per game and provided 8.5 assists per game.
Paul is competing in his 14th season in the NBA, and he has been a model of consistency. Suns head coach Monty Williams has been delighted with the impact Paul has made with the franchise. He said: “He’s been pretty consistent as a leader for us this year, and on the floor, he’s been tremendous.”
Meanwhile, the Trail Blazers have kept themselves in the play-off picture, as they are currently sixth in the Western Conference. They enjoyed a rousing 124-102 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. Damian Lillard led the way for the Trail Blazers, as he top-scored with 30 points. The Trail Blazers shouldn’t be underestimated by the Suns on Thursday evening.
Anthony Davis stepping up to the mark for the Los Angeles Lakers
Although LeBron James sat out a fourth straight game for the Lakers with a sprained right ankle, Anthony Davis showed that the Lakers were able to cope without James. Against the Suns, he looked energized, and he put in a typical all-action display. The Lakers will be confident of seeing off the Indiana Pacers come Saturday.
And when it comes to the head-to-head record, the Lakers have been far superior against the Pacers. Indeed, in 93 regular season matchups, the Lakers have prevailed on 61 occasions, while the Pacers have come out on top 32 times. In their last meeting back in March, the Lakers won 105-100.
As things begin to click in shape for the Lakers, it will be fascinating to see how they will fare in the latter part of this exciting season.
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