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NBA playoff picture roundup: Bucks win back-to-back games vs. Nets

We recap how the playoff picture shifted following Tuesday night’s NBA games.

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks is defended by Blake Griffin of the Brooklyn Nets during the second half of a game at Fiserv Forum on May 04, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

There are seven games in the NBA on Tuesday’s schedule as we head toward the end of the regular season. With just under three weeks left to play, teams are jockeying for playoff position, plus trying to avoid or get into the play-in tournament picture. The expanded format has really salvaged the end of the regular season for the NBA. Usually it’s just the West teams clumped up fighting for position and everyone else sort of watching. Now, every day there is movement in the standings.

The Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks face each other with first place in the East on the mind. The Bucks can gain some ground and move 2.5 games off of first. If the Bucks lose, it could end their hopes of stealing the No. 1 seed. The Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans run it back after the Dubs got a win last night.

Here we’re going to recap the important games from Tuesday and go over how it impacts the playoff picture in each conference.

Bucks sweep two-game set against Nets

The Bucks came away with another big 124-118 win on Tuesday night, sweeping their two-game series with the Nets. Milwaukee moved 1.5 games back of the Nets for 2nd in the East and just 3.0 back of the Sixers with a few weeks left to play. The Bucks are a long-shot to catch the Sixers, but also have an easy schedule the rest of the way. It’s not out of the question. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant combined for 70 points while Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 for the Bucks.

Mavs move into tie with Lakers after win over Heat

The Mavs got a gift on Tuesday night. The Miami Heat decided to rest Jimmy Butler due to an illness and Dallas had an easy time dealing with the rest of the roster. Luka Doncic had 23-12-8 to lead the Mavs back into a tie with the Lakers at 37-28. Dallas holds the tiebreaker and is technically in 5th place in the West standings.

Dubs give game right back to Pelicans

The Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans ran it back on Wednesday after the Dubs won on Tuesday. Golden State gave the game right back to the Pels in the standings with a 108-103 loss. Lonzo Ball dropped 33 points out of nowhere. The Pelicans are only 2.0 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for 10th place in the West, the cut off for the play-in tournament. The Dubs are tied with the Grizzlies at .500 and are in danger of falling to 9th place.

Suns hold off Okoro, Cavaliers in OT

The Phoenix Suns (47-18) got a scared from Isaac Okoro and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night. Ultimately, the Suns would go on to win pretty easily, 134-118, after some extra time. The win moves Phoenix back into a tie for first with the Utah Jazz in the West. Chris Paul had 23 points and 16 assists in the win. Okoro had arguably his best game as a rookie with 32 points on 10-of-16 shooting from the floor. A loss by the Suns would have been big for the Jazz and Denver Nuggets in the race for the No. 1 seed.

Ball, Hornets move closer to 7th seed

LaMelo Ball and the Charlotte Hornets held off the Detroit Pistons for a 102-99 win on Tuesday night. The Hornets (32-33) are now 2.0 games behind the Boston Celtics for the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. If the Miami Heat lose to the Dallas Mavericks (which looks like it’ll be the case), the Hornets would be 2.5 games out of 6th place, and clear of the play-in tournament. Ball had 22 points, 6 assists and 7 rebounds and has pretty much sealed up Rookie of the Year.