Wildcard week had a thriller and a bummer. We say goodbye to 2 more teams and welcome the quarter-finals this coming Sunday which should be alot of fun. The Warriors clinch the third seed after their opponents forfeited and they will face the Bullets on Sunday. All-Star info is on the site and we hope to see everyone there! Let's get right to it.
LAKERS vs JAZZ: Even though this game may have been seen as a mismatch on paper...it turned out to be one of the best games of the year. Sarwar Syed led the Lakers with his best game of the year as he dropped 17points on 8 of 12 shooting! He did an amazing job cutting to the middle of the paint and hitting short midrange jumpers or turnarounds. His buddy LiShin and Ara were able to find him on some sweet passes through the defence. You could not play a better half than what the Lakers did as they controlled the tempo and pace of the game. They were playing with only one sub but they played hard and got everyone to rest at the right times. The Jazz were shooting bricks and everything was setup for the upset by the Lakeshow. They took a 33 to 19 lead with 14 minutes to go in the second half so up 14 with 14 to go. This is where the Jazz started creeping back into it slowly...it helped that the Lakers were fouling unnecessarily at times and were careless with the ball. The Jazz stepped up with a full court press during the late stages and it paid off big time. LiShin had some huge turnovers...Ara with a big free throw miss and only 3 points in this game...and poor game management by GM Rahul. Rahul did a great job of leading vocally throughout the whole game but could have got his team to slow it down instead of taking quick shots when there was plenty of time left on the shot clock. The Jazz proved that prior experience in these situations were huge and they never got down on themselves. They made an incredible comeback led by their defence and timely shots by their go to players. It definitely hurts the way the Lakers lost this one as they had a sizeable lead and now they will have to think about it until next season. Jazz now face the Blazers in a rematch of last season's semi-finals.
Final Score: Lakers 38 - 41 Jazz Player of the Game - YAGA Palmer 15pts/11rebs/1ast/2stls
RAPTORS vs CELTICS: This was the other wilcard game which ended up being nothing like Michael Jackson's 'Thriller'...the game was boring and not very entertaining...well, actually the Raps played like they were zombies and not themselves the whole game so I guess it was sorta like MJ's music video. The Raps backcourt needed to come through and they frankly did not as they combined for 7 for 32 for a total of 18 points. Somi and Harrison settled for long range shots and combined for 3 for 18 from 3pt range and the other role guys could not really get into a rhythm either as they would not really know when they were going to get the ball. Bad time for the Raps to have their worst game of the season and they will now have to go home and watch the rest of the playoffs. The Celtics had Jey in the middle of the paint swatting shots and making it tough for anyone who drove into the lane. He continues to do all the dirty work for the team. Jasinthan, Umaraj and Abdul all had 15 a piece which was more than enough on this night. Umaraj was in full control this game and barely made any mistakes. Jas stepped up on the offensive end and he is going to be counted on in the quarter-finals against the Nuggets. Great game from beggining to end for the C's and now they will have to face the top team in ETBL as their prize. GM Jso finished last in the prior season but has successfully got them into the elite 8.
Final Score: Raptors 30 - 52 Celtics Player of the Game - UMARAJ Thavakumar 15pts/5rebs/4asts/2stls/1blk - 50% Shooting - 2 Triples