Here’s playoff purgatory as eight teams embark on what presents itself as a delicate detour to the NBA playoffs. Like it or not, the play-in tournament is a suitable theater to whet the appetite.
Attention turns to the Western Conference on Tuesday night when the Indiana Pacers, looking to break a franchise record of nine straight playoff games after reaching the second round in 2014, host the Charlotte Hornets, who are entering a season-high five-game losing streak that hasn’t reached the playoffs since 2015-16.
With a Boston Celtics team missing one of their star players and coming off a streak of just five wins in their last 15 regular season games, they move on to face a Washington Wizards team who have won 17 of their 23. last games behind the mastery of the new triple-double. record holder Russell Westbrook.
While both of them will view the single game as a timely clean slate, their respective rivals may want to maintain recent trends.
NBA Live: Charlotte @ Indiana Play-In 1 18.05
Tuesday May 18 11:30 p.m.
NBA Live: Washington @ Boston Play-In 2 18.05
Wednesday May 19 2:00 a.m.
Will the Hornets’ luck change?
A 15-game losing streak in their last 21 games has seen the Hornets go from seeded No.8 to No.10, with James Borrego’s side going notably 8-16 since Gordon Hayward sprained his foot April 2nd. Tuesday, with forward Cody Martin.
Charlotte has also lost six of her last seven on the road, although Borrego believes their trip to Indiana is an opportunity to reset.
“Our minds are clear, our minds are clear, our energy is up, our minds are in shape,” Borrego said after Sunday’s 115-110 loss to the Wizards, in which they gave up an 11-point lead. points in the fourth quarter. “Everything we’ve been through, we’re still standing, we’re still fighting, we’re ready to go and I expect us to play our best game of the season (Tuesday) night.
“This one stinks, but Tuesday night is a new season. That’s the beauty of it.”
Hornets forward Myles Bridges echoed his head coach’s sentiments: “It’s a new season,” he added. “We’re here now and we still have a shot at making the playoffs. We expect to win two games and make the playoffs.”
Terry Rozier averaged 20.4 points per game, a team-high during the regular season, while the Hornets were boosted by the return of LaMelo Ball’s prowess this month following the 21-game absence of the recruit due to a wrist injury.
The Pacers, who have lost two of three to the Hornets this season, have seen their 31-year-old streak with a home winning streak come to an end this season and have suffered injuries as well.
Malcolm Brogdon, who is currently averaging 21.2 points per game, is a playing time decision that has been ruled out since April 29 due to a hamstring injury, while the Pacers will be without starters Myles Turner (right foot) and TJ Warren (left foot). ), the latter has only played four times all season.
“It’s the biggest game of the season,” said head coach Nate Bjorkgren. “We talked about the unique situation and our guys are aware of it. I love the way we play, I love the way we share basketball, I love the way we got contributions off the bench and I love the way we have evolved the basketball. “
Amid injuries, Domantas Sabonis has been thriving, ending the regular season against the Toronto Raptors with his 48th double-double of the season, leaving him with a career-best 20.3 points per game and a high of team of 12 rebounds per game. Thu.
Can the Celtics contain Westbrook, Beal?
“The play-in games are going to be exciting for the fans and that adds weight and importance to this week,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “And once you get into the playoffs and the teams meet and prepare for each other, you see everyone’s level go up.”
Levels need to increase for Celtics more than most. And quick. A victory over Washington will earn them 7th place in the East; the loser of the game will then face the loser of the Hornets-Pacer game on Thursday in a second shot for last place in the playoffs.
Celtics Play-by-Play announcer Sean Grande recently Noted how the team’s main quartet of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart have spent just 292 minutes together on the pitch this season, placing 137th in the championship.
This sums up a major issue for Stevens’ men in 2021, highlighted again recently as goaltender Brown was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a wrist injury after averaging 24.7 points and 3. , 4 assists per game.
Tatum led the team with 26.4 points per game, as well as 7.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists, while Stevens admitted that Brown’s absence placed an additional burden on him and Smart to defend the power attackers from the opposition.
The Celtics rested seven players, including Tatum, as they lost 96-92 to the New York Knicks on the final day, with Jabari Parker leading the team with 18 points and seven rebounds.
As for Washington, they’ll be hoping for more of the same after taking the plunge to rekindle once-uncertain postseason aspirations.
Westbrook proved to be a deciding factor, registering triple-doubles in 20 of his last 24 outings as he turned 38 this season and surpassed Oscar Robertson’s record of 181 taking his career tally to 184.
He averaged 22.2 points, 11.5 rebounds, a career-high and 11.7 assists, while paying tribute to head coach Scott Brooks for his role in turning things around after a start to 17-29 in the first three months.
“You have to pay tribute to our coach because he did an incredible job making adjustments on the fly,” said Westbrook. “The players are always recognized, but Scotty has done a hell of a job being consistent and finding ways to make us better with the coaching staff.”
Bradley Beal is expected to face a hamstring issue that saw him miss three games before scoring 25 points in Sunday’s win over the Hornets.
He was carried to the goal scorer by Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors, finishing second with 31.3 points per game.
“I can’t say enough about Brad’s tenacity,” said coach Brooks. “In the four years I’ve been here, there haven’t been a lot of guys who have his mental toughness and determination. Brad’s tenacity, I say it all the time, he chews his nails at breakfast. should be proud. “