The final week of the regular season has come and gone! The playoff picture is set...3 teams are going home...12 teams are left to go to war now...it has been our best season yet and it should be an incredible playoffs. We will have 4 wildcard matchups on March 17th beginning at 5pm. The playoffs will have stoppage time in the last 4 minutes as long as the game is within 10 points. We should have a 'wildcard preview' posting this week as well. Now let's get right to it!
TIMBERWOLVES vs MAGIC: The Wolves will end their miserable season against arguably the best team in the league...well, with this victory the Magic have claimed top spot in the regular season which no one saw coming...I mean literally no one. Most people would have predicted the Magic to miss the playoffs entirely and so this is beyond incredible and GM Wilbert will have some hardware coming his way soon. The Wolves on the other hand were predicted to be a solid playoff team and obviously that has gone completely the opposite way and now they finish the season 0-12. Wilbert still has to give some credit to GM Suthan for helping his rise to fame with the midseason trade of Baki for Nick. Nick is a very good scorer/shooter/playmaker but Baki has been tremendous on both ends of the floor and has fit in perfectly with the Magic. His skillset has allowed others to stay in their roles and not overdo things which has been a recipe for success. If the Timberwolves were fully healthy and committed...then this would have been a great game but even Nathies got hurt a few minutes into the game...on a wide open layup with noone in sight...it just has not been their year and I fully expect Suthan to redeem himself next season (he is already anxious to get it going). He has the first overall pick in the draft as consolation and so we shall see what he parlays that into. In this game, Steven had his best showing with 14pts/3rebs/3asts/2stls as he ends off on a strong note...Nick had a game high 16...Athavan with a game high 11 boards for the Wolves. Baki and Puvi had 7 assists each while Vasko was great again on defence with 6 steals! He did get into it with the Referees as he has done so in the past as he felt like he did not get some calls on offence...but he has to realize that they have also allowed him to play his physical style on ball defence which he and the team have benefitted from. We will soon find out if he can keep his cool when it matters most! To round it out, Witness had his best game of the season with 10 points and GM Wilbert continues to make his case for Most Improved Player as he almost double doubled with 11 and 9.
Final Score: Timberwolves 40 - 60 Magic Player of the Game - EVERYBODY FROM THE MAGIC
NUGGETS vs SUNS: Both teams were shorthanded in this one as both teams only had 1 sub. Brendan actually forgot his shoes and had to drive to Whitby and back so the Nuggets only had 5 players for the first half...luckily they weren't shooed away in the first 20 minutes as they battled tough especially GM Ray who was hustling for boards and on defence. Suns got outrebounded on the offensive glass which really kept the Nuggets in it but Zanoon was able to bust up the zone with some timely triples to grind this one out. He had a game high 15 and will be relied upon heavily in the playoffs. The 'Big 3' for the Suns have the skills and talent necessary to beat any team but the timing and chemistry will have to be on point. Amar was huge on the boards with 7 and definitely provided a spark off the bench for the Suns...him and Jso are going to have to make some plays either on offence or defence for this team to really be a force when they are shorthanded. The Nuggets meanwhile got 30 points combined from Javan and Dylan but not much else from the supporting cast. Dwayne was as aggressive as he has ever been in this one taking 11 shots but managed to only make 2 of them but he was stellar on defence with 14 boards and 4 steals! It has been a rollercoaster year for the former 2 time GM of the Year winner but Ray will definitely put a plan together to maximize his chances of getting out of the first round. They get the Sixers who are an athletic team that can run and shoot so it won't be easy. The Suns meanwhile get the Lakers in what should be an intense matchup featuring an offensive oriented team vs the stingy defence of the Lakers.
Final Score: Nuggets 43 - 49 Suns Player of the Game - ZANOON ALI 15pts/5rebs/6asts/1stl/1to - 4 Triples
HAWKS vs BUCKS: The game of the night was also the heartbreaker of the night...the Bucks needed to win by 48 points to secure a playoff spot and the Hawks just needed to win to get in. Nirsan was ready to play even if he was not a hundred percent in what was a must win game for the birds. The Bucks actually started full court pressing for the first 7 to 8 minutes of the game as they tried to force turnovers (took a page out from the Magic) but the Hawks did fairly well to weather this storm. It also helped that the Bucks were not able to capitalize on some easy looks which kept the score close throughout the game. They could not trap the whole game obviously and the Hawks kept fighting so it was not going to be possible for the Bucks to crush them in this one. The Hawks had a full team and they wanted this game badly and played well but could not make any shots except for Nirsan who was great again. He had 31/9/2 and 3 steals!! He did all he could to keep his team from getting eliminated but as was the story all year...they just did not have a second option to help him. It was the same scenario for Chris D'Souza which is why this matchup was so interesting as both big men have had a fantastic year but in the end it won't be enough to get them into the playoffs. Let's fastforward to the last minute of play in regulation where Nirsan gets fouled after getting the offensive rebound and has a chance to put this game away by making it a 4 point lead at the line if he hits both freethrows. He makes the first but misses the second and the Bucks are now down 3. Vijith goes to the line and misses the 1 and 1 bonus freethrow and Krishan gets the rebound and there is less than 30 seconds on the clock...but somehow the Hawks turn it over in their own backcourt and Annojh comes up with a huge steal and assist to Randy who nails the big time triple to tie the game at 49 a piece. The Hawks still have one shot left and they call a timeout to run their play (give the ball to Nirsan and set a screen up top for him)...Nirsan however holds the ball up near the halfcourt line as the seconds tick down and when he looks up to see the time left on the scoreboard...Nishant snatches the ball away from him! Huge defensive play and Nirsan will be thinking about that one for a while. Chris had a shot to win it at the buzzer in regulation but it did not go in...but who knew he would have a chance to redeem himself in OT as the Bucks were down 2 and he calmly pulls up from long range in the face of Nirsan...and...yessss! clutch shot by Mr. D'Souza and heartbreak for the Hawks. Muhammad had a chance to push to lead at the freethrow line to 2 possessions prior to this play and so the Hawks had numerous opportunites to win this game! It was such a wild game to say the least and the happiest person in the building was Andy Leung as his team the Raptors now make it to the playoffs thanks to the Bucks!!!
Final Score: Hawks 51 - 52 Bucks Player of the Game - CHRIS D'SOUZA 34pts/14rebs/1stl/1blk - 59% Shooting - 4 Triples
LAKERS vs PISTONS: This game was not entertaining at all unless you are a Pistons fan in which case it was tolerable. No Usamah for the Lakeshow meant pretty much no chance against their rivals. Somi and Sugee had a chance to back up all their shit talk that they have been spitting at each other the whole season and even made a bet against each other for who would finish higher in the standings. Sugee waited till the last game of the season before overtaking Somi which must have been pretty satisfying. Somi seems to be reneging on his bet which is not cool at all and hopefully he honors the bet as they have talked about it for months. The Pistons were led by MVP candidate himself, Krisoth, who just did whatever he wanted to on the court in this one. He was showing off his passing skills as well and could have had alot more if his teammates had finished them. Cam had 13/11/3 and 2 steals and these are the types of lines GM Sanjoo is expecting from his cousin. He is the most versatile defender on the team being able to guard 1 thru 5 and he can provide some offence to help them. Can he continue to do the dirty work and give this team a chance to make some noise in the playoffs? Sugee also came to life with 8 points as he was clearly trying to stick it to his good friend Somi...especially in the last minute or so where it looked like he was trying to run up the score lol (good thing he still can't shoot properly). Somi will now need to have his first rounder back and healthy for the first round against the Suns while the Pistons will be in a tasty matchup against the Hornets.
Final Score: Lakers 39 - 65 Pistons Player of the Game - KRISOTH GNANENTHRA 24pts/6rebs/5asts/5stls - 52.5% Shooting - 3 Triples
SIXERS vs HEAT: This game was important for the Sixers as they had a chance to bounce the Warriors out of a top 4 seed and collect a bye for the first round. They would have made the road tougher for the defending champs and made it easier for themselves but Milton was not going to let that happen. He is already a giant of a man but when he was standing next to the Sixers...he made them look like leprechauns...south asian and brown leprechauns if there is such a thing. He had 20 and 19 on 91% shooting...yup that is not a typo...he was unstoppable in the paint and was wiping out defenders like a bug on a windshield. The Sixers paid a lot of attention to him and really tried to crowd him but they fell asleep on box outs after missed shots. He made them pay for the offensive boards he collected and when you are a smaller team there has to be a couple players paying attention to him when shots go up. Milton and Rahul started chirping in the middle of the game and I don't know if you want to give Milton any further motivation and energy. With that being said, the Sixers still had a lead at halftime as Flash (Nirosan) was doing his thing and dropping buckets. He hit the same amount of triples as the entire Heat team (4) and played solid on defence as well. The team as a whole were not able to make shots in the second half and credit the Heat for playing tough and grinding out this victory. Jeron was solid with 16 and 6 and he will need to help his big man as a secondary scorer. Things got chippy and heated between the teams but fortunately cooler heads prevailed and they all worked it out.
Final Score: Sixers 47 - 55 Heat Player of the Game - MILTON LAIDLEY 20pts/19rebs/1ast/1to - 91% Shooting
HORNETS vs CAVALIERS: This was another excellent game and it came down to the wire! And when it comes down to the wire...there may not be a better option in the league right now than Mr. Harrison Pon who drilled another pull up triple with the game on the line and it was nothing but net! Nishan and him went at it all game and in the end it was the Cavs who squeeked by and solidified what has been a very good regular season for them. They now get a bye in the first round and have locked up the three seed. The Hornets meanwhile are struggling to get offence outside of Nishan as Asok has dissappeard in the last 3 games averaging only 5pts a game in that stretch. Sen has been worse as he is only averaging 4pts a game in that same stretch. Nishan has stepped up scoring the ball but he is going to need one of these guys to come through this Sunday as they now face the Pistons. Off first glance, it does not seem like a bad matchup for them as the Pistons are also a small team without a traditional Center and so it will come down to perimeter defence by both squads. Thannojh and Ainky combined for 20 points and supplied the necessary secondary scoring for the Cavs in this one. They got a bit of a scare as Yaga went down after getting elbowed in the head and had to leave the game in the 2nd half but hopefully he is 100 percent in 2 weeks (good thing they secured a bye). If this game was an indicator (trash talk, intensity, defence) then the playoffs are going to be an all out war and just like it has been all season...anything is possible. Good luck to everyone.
Final Score: Hornets 44 - 47 Cavaliers Player of the Game - HARRISON PON 19pts/9rebs/2asts/2to - 50% Shooting - 3 Triples
Written by: Kisho (Commissioner)