In a dramatic final day of the NBA season, the Brooklyn Nets manage to make it into the playoffs thanks to a 101-88 win over the Orlando Magic, while the Indiana Pacers lost a hold of the final spot due to a 95-83 loss against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Both teams finish the season with an identical 38-44 record, but the Nets have the head-to-head advantage. Despite a very weak finish which included getting blown out by a combined 50 points against the Bucks and the Bulls before their Orlando game, the Nets, the same team Paul Pierce trashed for having a weak mentality, make it through in order to face the Atlanta Hawks.
It wasn’t easy against Orlando as well. The game was tied after three quarters and the Magic held a one point lead with nine minutes to go. But a 10-0 run, including 7 points from Joe Johnson put the Nets ahead for good, finishing the game strongly and preparing to hear the news from Memphis (Indiana played after them). The Grizzlies didn’t disappoint them.
Rookie Bojan Bogdanovic scored 28 points to lead the Nets, making the postseason for a third straight year. Deron Williams and Joe Johnson are older and might not be the leaders Pierce expected them to be, but once again they did enough to get the Nets into a postseason, hoping they can beat the Hawks for the first time this year, losing in all four games during the regular season.
The Pacers started their game in Memphis 90 minutes after the tip off in Brooklyn. They knew pretty quickly that only a win was going to get them into the postseason. But Memphis had their seeding in the West to think about and needed a win. Overall, especially at home, they’re the better team, and midway through the second quarter took control of the game, never looking back.
Marc Gasol had one of his best games of the season with 33 points and 13 rebounds, including 19 at the half. The Pacers were crushed in the paint and on the glass, as Zach Randolph had a very easy time as well, scoring 18 points. The Pacers got the usual dose from C.J. Miles and George Hill combining to score 46 points, but Roy Hibbert played like in the 2014 playoffs and David West finished with just 4 points.
Paul George? It turns out his return to the court didn’t go so well. He didn’t get the Pacers into the postseason and scored just two points in 15 minutes on the most important game of the season. Midway through the fourth quarter he had to be taken off the court after straining his calf. Not a serious injury, but it was a scary moments on a dreadful night for the Pacers, who end up missing the playoffs, just like everyone predicted at the beginning of the season.