Good morning. Let us basketball.
BASKETBALL! The Warriors and Blazers had themselves a helluva game on Sunday night, with Portland pulling out a victory in OT thanks to a LaMarcus Aldridge jumper. The win guaranteed that the Rockets and Blazers will meet in the first round, with home court still at stake. It also means Golden State will be no higher than the No. 6 seed. It's likely the Warriors will face the Clippers, which is fantastic for neutral fans because those teams hate each other.
Also, the Pacers capitalized on the Heat's weird concession to the Hawks on Saturday. Indiana beat the Thunder in a day game, and can clinch the East No. 1 seed after all with one more win or Heat loss. Weird.
DEATHRACE! On Saturday, the Mavericks edged the Suns behind Monta's 37 in perhaps the best regulation game of the season. On Sunday, the Grizzlies smoked the Lakers. What that means: Dallas is in. The Grizzlies are in with one more win. They face the Suns tonight and the Mavericks on Wednesday. If Memphis wins Monday, they're in. But they can lose Monday and still get in with a Wednesday win or a Phoenix loss to Sacramento.
Will Dallas have a reason to win on Wednesday? It could mean avoiding the Spurs in the first round. So maybe.
G.O.A.T.: Why do I adore Russell Westbrook so much? Because of things like this. My God.
R.I.P. KNICKS: The Hawks clinched the East's final bid on Saturday, eliminating the Knickerbockers. Here's a highlight reel for their sorrows.
MEET THE 2015 NBA DRAFT CLASS: Marc Spears touts the group of college freshmen following Andrew Wiggins and company.
UM, ZACH: You are not supposed to deliver such gorgeous behind-the-back bounce-pass alley-oops. That's Marc's job.
THE TYPES OF ONE-AND-DONE PLAYERS YOU MEET: Rex Chapman breaks down the different types of one-and-done players who work in the NBA and who don't. Pretty interesting construct around first-team all-conference.
DETROIT BASKETBALL: Joe Dumars has been demoted by the Pistons. Detroit will search for his replacement in the offseason. But it could be a long search, allowing Dumars' deputies to run the draft and free agency.
DOES IT MATTER ... that the Knicks, Celtics and Lakers all missed the playoffs this season? And should the Knicks be in this conversation in the first place?
SURREAL PLUS-MINUS: The natural reaction to real plus-minus, of course. (Here's Russell Westbrook's career surreal plus-minus, by the way.)
OH COOL: Another weird, secretive Knicks injury, this one involving Carmelo Anthony's shoulder. Great work by Chris Herring breaking down the stakes.
MORE TRANSPARENCY: The NBA reveals its playoff points of emphasis for officials and will continue to pair referees throughout the postseason instead of randomly tossing three together.
VIDEO GAMES DON'T BUILD THEMSELVES: Shaq Fu 2 needs more funding, fast.
Happy Monday. Programming note: we're going seven days a week at least until the draft. See you next time.