[caption id="attachment_310023" align="aligncenter" width="1520"] (NBAE | Getty Images)
Good morning, folks. Teams are finally getting eliminated as the seeding games hit the final stretch. Let's talk NBA Bubble.
Kings and Pelicans officially eliminated
It was a sad day on Sunday for De'Aaron Fox
and his Sacramento Kings, as they were officially eliminated from the play-in round following a 129-112 beaten at the hands of the Houston Rockets. Even with Russell Westbrook on the bench for Houston, Austin Rivers popped off for a career-high 41 points to help finish off the Kings for good. Fox still had himself an excellent showing--a common trend for him in the Bubble--as he went for a BBNBA-high 26 points in addition to his nine assists.
Sacramento had technically been eliminated from postseason contention after the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Philadelphia 76ers earlier in the day, but a 17-point beatdown was just the icing on the cake for a Kings team that, to be quite frank, has not once looked worthy of being in the Bubble. They fall to 1-5 in Orlando and officially extend their playoff drought to 14 years, the longest active stretch in the league.
Can they please just fire Luke Walton before he sticks around for another year or two? (or at least find a new General Manager?)
As for the New Orleans Zions, they too were knocked out of the playoffs following a 122-113 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. It was actually a massively important game for San Antonio, who moved just one game back of the Memphis Grizzlies for the 8-seed and a half-game back of the 9-seed with two games left on its schedule. Keldon Johnson
was impactful for the Sputs yet again, adding a modest nine points and two steals in 25 minutes.
San Antonio's hopes of extending its 22 consecutive season streak of making the playoffs are still alive, but only slightly. If the Phoenix Suns can beat the Oklahoma City Thunder later on Monday, we're going to have four teams fighting heavily for two play-in spots. THIS is where the basketball starts to get interesting...
SGA and the Thunder send the Wizards packing
The Washington Wizard were already eliminated from playoff contention before its matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
made sure to send them off in embarrassing fashion.
After a 121-103 win for OKC, the Thunder now move to 3-2 in the Bubble and, in the process, kept the Wizards from earning its first win in Orlando. SGA dropped 18 points for the Thunder to go along with six boards and seven dimes in 35 minutes while shooting 6-12 from the floor. OKC led from the opening tip against a banged-up Wizards squad that has been without its top three players, John Wall
, Bradley Beal, and Davis Bertans, since before the restart began. The Thunder tied a season-high with 18 made 3-pointers.
easily had his best outing of the Bubble for OKC, posting 13 points, six rebounds, two assists, and one steal while shooting on a 5-7 clip in 25 minutes. The third former Wildcat from the Thunder trio, Nerlens Noel,
was sidelined with a minor ankle injury that isn't expected to keep him out long, although the timetable for his return is currently unknown. OKC still has three Bubble games remaining before the postseason begins.
Other notes from the Bubble
- Wenyen Gabriel made his second consecutive appearance in the Bubble for the Trail Blazers, playing 12 minutes while adding three points and two rebounds.
- Rebounding legend Enes Kanter somehow snagged EIGHT boards in just EIGHT minutes in a 122-119 overtime win for the Boston Celtics over the Orlando Magic.
- Our final member of the BBNBA in action on Sunday was Patrick Patterson, who had one of his best outings since the Bubble began, registering eight points, two rebounds, and two assists in 17 minutes. Patterson has been a pleasant surprise off the bench for the Los Angeles Clippers; let's hope it continues into the playoffs.
- As always, here are your updated standings near the bottom of the Western Conference. Things are getting tight. PHX-OKC at 2:30 EST is going to be a HELL of a game.
[table id=558 /]
TODAY IN THE BUBBLE
2:30: Thunder (Diallo, Gilgeous-Alexander, Noel: questionable)
@ Suns (Booker)
3:00 (NBA TV): Mavericks (Kidd-Gilchrist)
6:30 (ESPN:) Raptors @ Bucks (Bledsoe)
8:00: Pacers @ Heat (Adebayo, Herro)
9:00 (TNT): Nuggets (Murray)
@ Lakers (Davis, Rondo: out)