The wildly competitive Eastern Conference had three of its eight playoff spots clinched going into Saturday night: Cleveland, Toronto, and Atlanta. By the end of the evening, both the Charlotte Hornets and Miami Heat had joined the teams above and clinched playoff berths.
Charlotte has been rolling since March and is 14-3 in their last 17 contests. The Michael Jordan-owned franchise will be entering the postseason for the tenth time in their history, and the first since 2014.
Miami clinched their first playoff spot in the post-LeBron James era despite losing to the Trail Blazers 110-93 on Saturday. C.J. McCollum had a game-high 24 points, seven assists, and four steals and Damian Lillard wasn’t far off with 18 points. Portland ran away with the game in the second quarter, hanging 39 points on Miami while shooting 57% from the field. Four players scored five or more in the quarter, including Damian Lillard and Gerald Henderson, who scored eight each to lead the Blazers.
The Heat, who were without Dwyane Wade yet again, only scored 20 points in that second quarter, with Hassan Whiteside’s six leading the charge. Whiteside was the Heat’s leading scorer for the game as well. He tallied 20 and added 13 rebounds and four blocks with it. Goran Dragic (15), Joe Johnson (13), Josh Richardson (12), and Luol Deng (14) all scored more than ten points, and Deng hauled in 13 rebounds to go with his 14.
April 16th is the start of the NBA Playoffs, and Charlotte is currently the three seed while Miami dropped into the sixth seed after Saturday’s loss. However, four teams are separated by just half-a-game: Charlotte, Atlanta, Boston, and Miami.
The Heat return to Miami for a game against the Pistons on Tuesday. Charlotte travels to Cleveland for a meeting with the Cavaliers on Sunday.
Around The League
San Antonio kept rolling at home and won their 64th game this year, a franchise-record. They beat the Raptors 102-95 at home, marking their 48th straight home win. Kawhi Leonard had 33 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 31 points and 15 boards.
Jimmy Butler’s monster triple-double isn’t enough, and the Bulls fell to the Pistons 94-90. Butler had 28 points, a career-high 17 rebounds, and 12 assists, also a career-high. Detroit was led by Reggie Jackson and Tobias Harris, who combined for 43 points.
With DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo resting, the Kings beat the Nuggets 115-106. Sacramento had seven players in double-figures, led by Rudy Gay’s 25 points and nine rebounds. Darren Collison dished out eight assists and Seth Curry scored 17.
IND 115 – PHI 102
DET 94 – CHI 90
TOR 95 – SAS 102
SAC 115 – DEN 106
MIA 93 – POR 110