Jazz and Nets qualify for playoffs, Bucks and Mavericks draw closer

Houston (USA), Apr 28 (EFE) .- Utah Jazz and Brooklyn Nets are the first two teams to ensure a pass to the NBA playoffs in their respective Western and Eastern Conferences, the first without playing on the last day and the second after winning at home to the Raptors by 103-116.

Milwaukee Bucks and Dallas Mavericks approached the same goal with victories each.

The Jazz, who enjoyed a bye, have a 44-17 record, the best in the league, and with 11 games to go to the end of the regular season they confirmed their qualification to the finals for the fifth consecutive season.

The Nets, in their victory over Toronto, had a decisive contribution from Kevin Durant to also be placed in the ‘playoffs’ for the third time in a row.

Durant scored seven of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and power forward Jeff Green had 22 points as the Nets’ leading scorer (42-20), which consolidated their leading position in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference.

The Nets star forward, who was playing his second game after returning from a thigh injury, added 10 rebounds in 33 minutes for his eighth double-double of the season.

Durant hit a 3-pointer with 1:47 left and looked at the Toronto bench after putting his team up 101-111.

Point guard Kyrie Irving finished with nine points, six rebounds and four assists and made just 3 of 13 shots from the field, making Durant’s contribution even more important.

The Raptors, who were led by 24 points from point guard Kyle Lowry (six triples), ended a five-game winning streak at home and went 26-36, which puts them out of the playoffs, in the twelfth place.

Those who are on the list of teams that pass the stage in the Eastern Conference are the Milwaukee Bucks, consolidated in third place after being guided by their star, the Greek power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, they defeated at home 104-114 to the Charlotte Hornets, Michael Jordan’s team, who is eighth.

Antetokounmpo, who was on the verge of a triple-double, contributed 29 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, while Cuban American center Brook Lopez added 22 points and the Bucks broke the two-game losing streak they had accumulated against the Hornets in this season’s duel between both teams.

The Hornets (30-31) beat the Bucks by 12 at home in January, and then by eight on April 9 in Milwaukee.

Antetokounmpo seemed determined not to let that happen again and he did it with aggressive play. He made 11 of 19 shots from the field and 5 of 5 from the personnel line, which left the Bucks with the victory and a 38-23 record, the third best in the Eastern Conference.

The same prominence had the Slovenian All-Star point guard Luka Doncic with the decimated Mavericks. With his scoring inspiration, he led them to a 103-133 win on the road against the Golden State Warriors.

Doncic, with 39 points, also took on the role of guard Stephen Curry, who won the individual duel in his own field and in a game in which he led a decisive 28-0 streak for the Mavericks.

The Warriors coach himself, Steve Kerr, acknowledged that his team had played in exhibition plan, without worrying about the final result, when it was the most important of the year, while the Mavericks offered the image of the Mavericks was to be competing in the playoffs.

Especially Doncic, who despite all the casualties suffered by his team, including the Latvian center Kristaps Porzingis, once again emerged as the great leader of the Mavericks attack, which came to have up to 43 points of advantage.

Doncic made 15 of 23 shots from the field, added eight assists and six rebounds. Dallas (34-27) has won seven of nine against Golden State and four in a row at the home of the Warriors, while still leading the Southwest Division.

Curry had 27 points, including five more triples, extending his NBA record for baskets from outside the perimeter in one month to 90 this April. But he couldn’t handle the defensive pressure of the Mavericks.

Curry surpassed the 82 mark held by Nets guard James Harden when he played for the Houston Rockets in November 2019.

The Boston Celtics in their line of inconsistency were surprised in their TD Garden field by the Oklahoma City (115-119) and charged with the third consecutive loss, fourth in the last five games, after having won six in a row.

In the duel between the worst teams in the Western Conference and the league, the Minnesota Timberwolves were the least bad, beating the Rockets 107-114 on the road, who lost the fifth consecutive game.

(c) EFE Agency

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