About Last Night: Nets bolster playoff hopes

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“All these games are huge for us,” said Nets sharpshooter Joe Harris, who hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in crunch time.

After dropping four of their previous five games, the Brooklyn Nets needed a victory in Milwaukee — something only six teams have pulled off this season.

Make that seven.

With a total team effort, the Nets beat the Bucks 133-128 to improve their positioning in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Brooklyn made 19 3-pointers and had eight players score in double figures. D’Angelo Russell finished with 25 points and 10 assists, Caris LeVert added 24 off the bench on just 12 shots, and veteran Jared Dudley turned in his most impressive game of the season.

Dudley scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half and grabbed a season-high seven rebounds, including a key offensive rebound in the final minute to help Brooklyn hold on.

“JD is the ultimate veteran guy from a leadership standpoint,” teammate Joe Harris said after the game. “He’s like having another coach on the floor.”
 

The Nets moved into sixth place in the East. Orlando also is 40-40, and Detroit is a half-game back with a 39-40 record. Brooklyn owns tiebreakers over both teams.

The Nets also are 1.5 games ahead of the ninth-place Miami Heat, who will visit Barclays Center in the regular-season finale on Wednesday. The Nets will play at Indiana on Sunday.

Asked how he will prepare for a tough road game against the Pacers, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson had an interesting answer.

“I prepare tonight by having a glass of wine,” Atkinson said. “Sometimes you have to celebrate. “Then I wake up tomorrow morning, get my workout in and I’ll be ready for Indiana.”
 

Sixers snap skid, win 50th game

Joel Embiid dominated inside, JJ Redick supplied the outside touch and the 76ers moved closer to securing the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 116-96 victory over the Chicago Bulls.

Philadelphia increased its lead over idle Boston to two games and reached the 50-win plateau for second year in a row. That last time the 76ers posted consecutive 50-win seasons was during an impressive run of seven straight 50-win seasons (1979-80 through 1985-86) in the Julius Erving era.

Here’s the best dunk from Saturday night (courtesy of Joel Embiid) along with the best house call we could find from Dr. J during the aforementioned era:
 

 

Barkley’s reaction at The Final Four

Hours before playing the first Final Four game in school history, the Auburn Tigers were visited by their most famous basketball alumnus.

Charles Barkley addressed the team inside the Auburn locker room before the Tigers played Virginia.

“Seize this opportunity because it don’t come along that often,” Barkley said.

The Tigers started slow but came alive in the closing minutes, turning a 10-point deficit into a 61-57 lead with 19.3 seconds left. But a foul call on a 3-point attempt by in the final seconds allowed the Cavaliers to pull out a dramatic 63-62 victory.

Here’s Barkley’s reaction to the controversial call:
 

Updated Playoff Picture

Eastern Conference
Milwaukee and Toronto are the only Eastern Conference teams locked into its seeds

1. Milwaukee (59-21) – 2 games remaining
Bucks have clinched NBA’s best record and will have home-court advantage throughout playoffs

2. Toronto (56-24) – 2 games remaining
Raptors are locked into No. 2 seed

3. Philadelphia (50-30) – 2 games remaining
Sixers have two-game lead over Celtics

4. Boston (48-32) – 2 games remaining
Celtics are two games behind Sixers (Boston owns tiebreaker) and one game ahead of Indiana (Boston owns tiebreaker)

5. Indiana (47-33) – 2 games remaining
Pacers are one game behind Celtics

6. Brooklyn (40-40) – 2 games remaining
Nets are tied with Magic (Brooklyn owns tiebreaker over Orlando and Detroit) and 1.5 games ahead of Heat (Miami leads season series 2-1 and match again for the last game of the season)

7. Orlando (40-40) – 2 games remaining
Magic are tied with Nets. Own tiebreaker over Heat but lost tiebreakers to Nets and Pistons

8. Detroit (39-40) – 3 games remaining
Pistons own tiebreaker over Magic but not Nets; currently lead Heat for tiebreaker via conference record

9. Miami (38-41) – 3 games remaining
Heat lost tiebreaker to Magic; currently trailing Pistons via conference record; currently leading season series with Nets 2-1 with one matchup left

Western Conference

All eight playoff teams are set but not one seed has been determined with four days left in regular season

1. Golden State (55-24) – 3 games remaining
Warriors can clinch No. 1 seed Sunday at home against Clippers

2. Denver (53-26)- 3 games remaining
Nuggets have clinched first-round home court advantage

3. Houston (52-28) – 2 games remaining
Rockets are 1.5 games behind Nuggets and own tiebreaker

4. Portland (50-29) – 3 games remaining
Blazers are 1.5 games behind Rockets and one game ahead of Jazz. Blazers own tiebreaker against Rockets

5. Utah (49-30) – 3 games remaining
Jazz are one game behind Blazers and own tiebreaker via division record

6. LA Clippers (47-33) – 2 games remaining
Clippers are half game ahead of Thunder. If teams are tied, tiebreaker would come down to in-conference record, where Clippers currently hold slight edge, with two games remaining vs. West opponents

7. Oklahoma City (46-33) – 3 games remaining
Thunder are half game game behind Clippers and half game ahead of Spurs, who own tiebreaker over Thunder. OKC owns tiebreakers against Rockets, Blazers and Jazz

8. San Antonio (46-34) – 2 games remaining
Spurs are half game behind Thunder and own tiebreaker. Spurs are one game behind Clippers and currently own tiebreaker via conference record
 

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