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|A game behind the Philadelphia 76ers in the race for the third seed in the NBA Eastern Conference Jonathan Cooper Color Rush Jersey , the Cleveland Cavaliers long ago received a gift from the schedulers: home-and-home matchups against the woeful and wounded New York Knicks to end the regular season, starting Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
Whether the Cavaliers can catch the scorching 76ers remains to be seen. Philadelphia is the NBA’s hottest team with a 14-game winning streak — including a 132-130 victory over Cleveland on Friday — and with games at Atlanta and at home against Milwaukee still on the schedule.
But the Cavaliers have their eyes on that crucial prize, made even more crucial by No. 2-seed Boston’s injury problems. A third seed would ensure a second-round matchup with Boston or the No. 7 seed. A fourth seed could mean a meeting with the No. 1 seed Toronto Raptors.
“I always think you try to take the easy way out, it’s always going to come back and bite you,” Cleveland’s Kevin Love said after losing to Philadelphia. “Both teams played extremely hard tonight, we both wanted to get the higher seed no matter who we’re playing. Some matchups work in your favor, I guess, but I just think taking the easy way out in some cases is not the way to go.”
The Cavaliers’ loss to the 76ers revealed a glaring weakness that seemed to have been cured. Cleveland gave up 132 points.
The Cavs entered that matchup on a five-game winning streak and with wins in 10 of 11. The first five wins were scary — the Cavaliers allowed an average of 113 points per game — but in the six games before the loss to Philadelphia, Cleveland had allowed 102 points per game.
“We’re a prideful team http://www.texansauthorizedshops.com/authentic-justin-reid-jersey , and the only way to get back in was be scrappy, play a little bit more physical and hit more shots,” James said. “We were down 30, and for us to come all the way back shows what were capable of doing. But every offensive rebound here, every missed shot. … We turned the ball over, they made us pay, and they were flying.”
Luckily for the Cavs — at least for the next two games — the Knicks are one of the worst offensive teams in the NBA.
The Knicks have gone 4-16 in their last 20 games, averaging 105.5 points per game, and that includes 128- http://www.jetsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-trenton-cannon-jersey , 124-, and 122-point nights. Remove those and New York averaged 102.
Hurting the Knicks: Tim Hardaway Jr. (ankle) remains out.
Solution for New York: The emergence of rookie second-round pick Damyean Dotson, a two-way player with the G-League’s Westchester Knicks. Dotson had 30 points and 11 rebounds in 36 minutes in the team’s surprising 122-98 win over the Miami Heat on Thursday.
“It’s amazing. Just trying to stay the course, keep believing, keep working hard,” Dotson told reporters after becoming the first Knicks rookie to put up a 30-10 game since Patrick Ewing in 1985-86. “Eventually something good will happen. It’s playing the right way, believing in myself, believing in the development, coming from the G-League http://www.packersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-marquez-valdes-scantling-jersey , coming from back and forth, playing.”
LOS ANGELES — A bunched up Western Conference has the New Orleans Pelicans knowing there is plenty to play for with two games remaining in the regular season.
With a victory Monday at Los Angeles against the Clippers, the Pelicans would move one win away from clinching at least the No. 5 seed in the conference. They could even move up to No. 4 with a little help from opponents playing the Utah Jazz, who are currently in fourth place.
But the jammed pack conference also means a backward slide could take a heavy toll. The Pelicans were officially fifth in the conference before Sunday’s games, with teams in fifth, sixth (Spurs), and seventh (Thunder) all possessing 46-34 records.
Denver was in ninth place in the conference, just outside a playoff spot, but was just one game behind the Pelicans in the standings.
If anything http://www.seahawksauthorizedshops.com/authentic-rashaad-penny-jersey , the Pelicans are soaring into Los Angeles behind their hard-earned victory at Golden State on Saturday.
“Knowing this was like a playoff game and a playoff atmosphere, knowing where we are in the playoff race and knowing we haven’t won (at Golden State) in a while, (it) was a big confidence booster,” Pelicans forward Anthony Davis said, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “We knew we’d probably have to win four games of the last five to make sure we solidify a spot in the playoffs.”
It remains to be seen what type of Clippers team the Pelicans will run into. Monday’s matchup had been shaping up to be a big one between Western Conference playoff contenders, but a recent Clippers slide officially eliminated them from their seventh consecutive playoff appearance.
The Clippers (42-38) could be a team intent on showing they still have something to prove, even if the playoffs are out of the question, or they could exhale knowing their late-season chase has ended.
The Clippers might have lost four of their last five games, but after considering what he might do with the season winding down Saquon Barkley Jersey Giants , coach Doc Rivers suggested that his team will not treat the Pelicans with indifference.
“We have two games left and I don’t even know how I’m going to approach those games,” Rivers told the assembled media after Saturday’s loss to the Nuggets. “I may play all the starters, I may play all the young guys and just let them get minutes.
“I think I have to play the guys against New Orleans, honestly. I think we really have to go after that game. I just believe in protecting the league. That’s what we should do, and I hope we do that.”
The Clippers will conclude the season with four point guards on injured reserve: Patrick Beverley (knee), Avery Bradley (groin), Milos Teodosic (foot) and Jawun Evans (abdomen). Even leading scorer Lou Williams is ailing with an ankle injury and was listed as day-to-day. Forward Danilo Gallinari is also day-to-day with a hand injury.
The Pelicans have made their playoff push despite losing DaMarcus Cousins (Achilles) for the season. Guard Ian Clark is dealing with an ankle injury.
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