Another defeat for Golden State. The defending two-time champions, first in the West, were beaten by the modest Phoenix team tonight (111-115). The league’s other leading team, Milwaukee, lost to San Antonio (114-121).
The Warriors less sharp
Traditionally, the title candidates have been growing in strength in the final stretch of the season to set the pace and build confidence for the playoffs. But the fatigue that has accumulated over the past four years – and as many finals for three titles – is really starting to be felt on the Oakland side. Golden State’s workforce is full, however, but recent results are disappointing. Six defeats in ten matches, the last of which was inflicted by Phoenix, the red lantern in the West, last night (111-115).
The Warriors were again surprised by a much weaker opponent. Worse still, they were dominated in the last quarter, when their many talents are expected to make a difference. It was Devin Booker, the Suns’ young star, who led his team to victory in the last 12 decisive minutes. He scored 13 straight points for Phoenix, completing Kevin Durant’s private Golden State formation, which hit the ankle at the end of the game. Booker finished with 37 points.
The Suns hadn’t beaten the Warriors since 2014! They have been bad all season but they had the merit of taking the scalp of the first in the Western Conference after beating the first in the East, Milwaukee, recently. This team has been playing better in recent weeks. The opposite of the Warriors, like Stephen Curry, who has been out on the street for fifteen games (41% in shooting over this period). Steve Kerr’s group is in the thick of it. Maybe it will come back, probably even when the playoffs start. But this is not the best way to approach the most important moments of the season.
The Pistons run on fuel
Unlike Golden State, Detroit is getting stronger as the playoffs approach. With an engine running at full throttle right now. This engine is Blake Griffin,
the central element of a displacement that has won five games in a row. The Pistons beat the Bulls last night (131-108), with 28 points from their All-Star interior. His companion in the racket was not to be outdone. Andre Drummond, who is also in great shape, has compiled an eighteenth double-double in a row (16 pts, 15 rbds). A franchise record, his own, equalled. Detroit has won twelve of its last fourteen matches and thus consolidates its sixth place in the East.
Significant feedback for Joel Embiid
Joel Embiid, who has been absent for several matches, finally found the floors again last night. And not just for any meeting. Philadelphia was receiving Indiana. A major shock for third place in the East. The Cameroonian therefore recovered in strength. He scored 33 points and picked up 12 rebounds in just 28 minutes to celebrate his return to the field.
In its wake, the Sixers won against the Pacers (106-89). The two franchises now have the same record – 42 wins and 25 losses.
Aldridge and DeRozan, winning pair
Another team in good shape at the moment: San Antonio. The Spurs won their fifth game in a row by defeating the Bucks tonight (121-114). A series of victories that allowed them to put themselves almost permanently out of reach of a return of the Kings, ninth in the West. This success against the first of the Eastern Conference bears the mark of DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge. The two stars of the Texas team scored 28 and 29 points respectively. Enough to do better than the probable MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (27 pts, 13 rbds, 6 pds).
Full results from last night :
Pistons – Bulls : 131-108
Heat – Raptors : 104-125
Sixers – Pacers : 106-89
Hawks – Pelicans : 128-116
Grizzlies – Magic : 105-97
Mavericks – Rockets : 93-94
Timberwolves – Knicks : 103-92
Spurs – Bucks : 121-114
Warriors – Suns : 111-115.