We have reached the end of the regular season and there is only 16 teams that remain out of 22. Playoffs are this Sunday with all 8 games on the slate and it should be a wild one. It is a win or go home scenario and the bracket is set. Let's find out how we finished off week 16 as there were a couple big games that we will dive in depth into a couple of them. There will not be a recap for Round 1 but we will try and get some done for the later rounds. More info on All-Star selections will be up soon as well. Now, let's get right to it.
CLIPPERS: Clip City was drilling shots, making plays and the defence was overwhelming and rolled through this one as they crushed another...wait what...hold on...the Clips lost?!?...is this for real? The undefeated giants of ETBL take an L? WOW. I guess all good things come to an end eventually and GM Randy and company finally felt what it was like to have a close game and pressure situations. The Pistons had practiced prior in the day before facing them and they looked like a team on a mission. They came out with a great gameplan and pulled off a "Triangle and 2 Zone Defence" to stifle reigning MVP Kris and the rest of the squad. There are a few reasons why this worked out for the Pistons...they have alot of length, size and quickness...players who are good individual and team defenders...just a bunch of experienced and smart basketball players...and lastly they were able to use a little bit of the suprise element as clearly the Clips either were not expecting this type of defence or did not know how to counter it. I had clearly written about this in the Clippers last recap and so there should not have been any suprises as you know teams are going to press and play them tightly and throw different coverages at them. This is not a complex defence as basically your 2 best defenders guard the other team's best 2 players and shadow them everywhere...then you play 2 others in the bottom of the zone (left and right side of the paint) and one just above the freethrow line creating a 'Triangle'. Now, the Clips just had to play 5 out and move the ball and have players cut down the middle...run dribble hand-offs at the top of the arc to try and confuse the defence...get the ball to the middle of the paint to a cutter and have other baseline cutters running down from the corners... but instead they settled for three pointers and tried to force dribble their way into the paint which resulted in turnovers as Gopal and friends were quick to move their feet and welcome them with open arms. With that said it was still a tie game with about 35 seconds left and Mr. Gohulan Siva had the ball in his hands a few feet behind the 3pt line....after surveying the situation...he just rose up and drilled the biggest shot of his young ETBL career. That took alot of balls and confidence and he is showing us that he is not afraid of these moments. Later, Umar sealed the game with a beautiful dime in transition for a layup and put this baby away. Prior to the game, Kris was trying to see what it would take to win regular season MVP and if he still had a chance...but then he proceeded to have his worst game of the season going 2 for 13 with 5 turnovers! Even though he is respected for what he did last season...his former team let him know that...it's different now. Motor City with the statement of the season.
Final Score: Pistons 50 - 43 Clippers Player of the Game - ASIM MIRZA 17pts/6rebs/2blks/1to - 63.6% Shooting - 2 Triples
JAZZ: Two teams out of the race just playing out the string. They were essentially playing to see who would not be last in the standings and this game was super close and we needed overtime to settle it. The Jazz had plenty of chances to win it but it was not meant to be. Zaid had a terrific game for them as he finished with a career high 19 points! Ganen had 18pts/16rebs/6asts/2stls/1blk as he finished off the season very strong and I still cannot believe the Warriors traded him! One week after hyping up the young bull (Mithun) and how efficient he was...he struggled with a 7 for 26 line lol...but still managed to have a solid line of 26/3/5 with 1 steal and 2 blocks! He did a bit of everything in this one...just work on the outside shot...and maintain composure and don't let the referee calls affect you...sky is the limit. Jamshed was a pitbull in this one as he would not be denied and finished a 30 piece! Can't believe Warriors traded him too lol. Birko was fantastic and this team deserved this victory after the rough year they had.
Final Score: Twolves 66 - 65 Jazz Player of the Game - JAMSHED CHAUDHARY 30pts/8rebs/1asts/1stl - 4 Triples
NUGGETS: The Nuggets are wounded and the Blazers took care of business early.NJ and Chris combined for 37 and that was more than enough to take down GM Ray's team. Nirsan came to support the squad while on crutches and you feel badly for him as he was having a terrific season. They will get a replacement but he will not be anywhere near the calibre or production that Nirsan was providing. Their just isn't enough shooting on this team and it is even more glaring now that they have lost their top player. They fought tough defensively which they will always do but who is going to score outside of Junior. He was 1 for 10 from three and it is going to be easier to focus on him and shut him down if you are the opponent. Blazers had Vijiths brother (Ramjith) step in as a replacement and he did the little things as he contributed with 5 boards 2asts and 2 stls! With Rogith out for the season they need every little thing they can get from their role guys if they wanna do some damage in the playoffs. They will get the Sonics in what should be an intense one. Nuggets get a tough matchup against the Bullets and we shall see if Ray can come up with some sort of gameplan to escape with a victory.
Final Score: Blazers 46 - 31 Nuggets Player of the Game - NJ KRISHNA 22pts/4rebs/1ast/3stls - 64% Shooting - 4 Triples
NETS: The Bullets took care of business in a must win game to solidify a spot in the playoffs. Anthony and Nidun were awesome as they both shot 50% and they will be a dangerous duo to face in the playoffs. Ruben and Suren were also solid in this one and they will need to play their roles if this team wants to make some noise when the real games start. The Nets get the Kings and we shall see if they can forget about this one and get ready for the playoffs.
Final Score: Bullets 63 - 49 Nets Player of the Game - ANTHONY JEYAKANTHAN 20pts/4rebs/2asts/3stls/1blk/0to - 50% Shooting - 3 Triples
WARRIORS: This game actually mattered...even if the Warriors were not aware of it LOL. They needed the Bullets to win (which happened) and the Heat to win (we got word just prior to this game that the Bulls forfeited) and so the stage was set for this play in game for the last spot in the playoffs. I had to mention it to GM Gautham prior to the game and he was suprised as he was not aware of the circumstances. I was hoping that gave them some motivation to come out and compete but they did not show the type of intensity expected of a playoff team. They came out flat and the Pelicans used a big game by Vman and Vijay to take this game down. The Pelicans now moved into the 12th with the win and will face the Pistons in what should be a dandy of a game. The Warriors dynasty comes to an end as GM Gautham will not be returning in a GM role and what a ride it was for him. Back to back Championships (one where he hit the game winning 3 at the buzzer) and he was very shrewd and showed alot of leadership during his tenure. Although I did not agree with the moves this season as he had a solid squad that lost some heartbreakers (mostly due to being shorthanded)...I will give him credit for thinking outside the box and looking at ways to improve his team. Dissapointing finish but most good things usually come to an end.
Final Score: Pelicans 50 - 42 Warriors Player of the Game - VMAN VINAY 19pts/17rebs/3asts/4stls/1blk/0to - 66.6% Shooting
BULLS: The Bulls decided to throw in the towel and who can blame them. They forfeited the last game of their season and they will miss the playoffs after alot of preseason hype. They had arguably the most exciting player in the league in Shang...old school legend in Tes...2 solid vets in Sutharsan and Sham...but with poor performances and poor defence...they were not able to compete consistently. They will look to retool and upgrade and come back stronger. The Heat are now in 2nd place and that is awesome but they have now not played a game since February 19th and so they will need to make sure they are in rhythm come March 1st.
Final Score: Heat 25 - 0 Bulls Player of the Game - BILLAL OMAIR for the job he has done all szn and securing the 2nd seed!