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Three things to know: Lakers blow out Pelicans, win key West playoff chase

Three Things to Know is NBC’s five-day-a-week wrap-up of the night before the NBA. check out Tune in every weekday morning to see what you didn’t see last night, plus the rumors, drama and stings that make the NBA worth watching.

1) Lakers blow out Pelicans, win key win in West playoff chase

The Pelicans featured two teams in an extremely close race for a play-in spot in the West over the Lakers — the game setting up as a late-season contest that could swing the race.

So it would have been nice to show New Orleans. The Pelicans started off shooting 0-of-6 from the field (with some questionable shot selection at points) while the Lakers were hot, stormed out to a 14-0 lead, and never looked back en route to an easy win. saw. Anthony Davis He had 35 points and 17 rebounds – he’ll have to play at that level for the Lakers to have a chance. Without LeBron James (foot injury).

Where does that leave the West playoff race? Let’s break it down.

• Denver continues to hold on to the top seed despite a four-game losing streak, that continued Tuesday night against Toronto, The Nuggets still have a four-game cushion on the Suns. But things are headed in the wrong direction and the Nuggets need to put their foot back on the gas.

• The Grizzlies and Kings will finish second and third, the only question is in which order.

• The Suns, with the Bucks’ loss on Tuesday (drop two out of three items ahead), look to loosen their grip on the four seed. The Suns now have a one-game lead over the Warriors and Clippers for the four seed, and the Timberwolves are just two games behind. The Suns have much tougher schedules the rest of the way than the Clippers or Warriors, and the latter two teams have their stars healthy while the Suns wait. Kevin Durant.

• Three games separate the Clippers and Warriors at 5-6 and the 12th-seeded Pelicans. It could go either way. Minnesota is playing better, is above .500 and is currently the No. 7 seed, but do things look smoother when they rejoin Karl-Anthony Towns soon? when does the thunder win Shai Gilgeous-Alexander plays, and if he can stay healthy, he has a good chance of making it into the play-ins. The Lakers are looking better and will be a threat if LeBron can bounce back. Dallas has to heal Luka Doncic, play next to him Kyrie Irving, and hope they can put up so many points they can’t lose (because the Mavericks’ defense isn’t stopping anyone).

Any team that heats up between the four seed and the 12th seed can quickly jump up the standings. It should be noted that the Lakers have the easiest schedule of any of these teams.

And sorry Trail Blazers fans, but two games from play-in makes it a long shot to make the leap with some teams they make play-in as well. Damian Lillard said the next handful of games will determine whether the Trail Blazers can go to the postseason, but I’m already off that bandwagon. Regardless of how spectacular Lillard has been this season.

2) Antetokounmpo keeps making the MVP case, the Bucks keep winning

That the Bucks beat the Suns on Tuesday night — even though Milwaukee was the second night of back-to-back wins — wasn’t shocking. It just comes down to: The Bucks had giannis antetocampo And the Suns didn’t have Kevin Durant (sprained ankle).

After the game, Suns coaches Montee Williams, Deven Booker, and others were quick to point out that Antetokounmpo got to the free throw line 24 times, the Suns just 16 as a team. There are reasons, starting with Antetokounmpo is the best downhill player in the league and force contact while Booker and chris paul settle for jumpers or floaters (and Deandre Ayton never had much contact). The referees were calling the play a certain way tonight and Antetokounmpo adjusted better than the Suns. We can pick out individual plays where Booker should have gotten the call or Antetokounmpo shouldn’t have, but overall the attacker playing downhill got the call. Welcome to NBA.

With the 116–104 win, the Bucks became the first team to officially clinch a playoff spot. The win moved the Bucks three games behind second-place Boston in the East and four games back (after the Nuggets’ loss to the Raptors) over top-seeded Denver in the West. This should be the home court of the Bucks throughout the playoffs.

The Bucks’ run has put Antetokounmpo back in the MVP conversation (Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid, in my book, anyway). Our friend Matt Moore of Action Network posted this interesting statistic.

The recency bias has a strong pull on the human mind, and NBA Awards voters are no different — Antetokounmpo and the Bucks thrive under the stretch while Jokic and the Nuggets struggle to stay with voters. How much this affects the thinking and where Joel Embiid fits into all of this remains to be seen, but it’s an incredibly close three-way race for the prize.

3) Diamond Sports files for bankruptcy affecting 16 team’s local broadcasts

It had been expected for some time, the league had been anticipating it and preparing for it, but on Monday it came off.

Diamond Sports Group — the parent company of Bally’s regional sports network that broadcasts games for 16 NBA teams as well as multiple MLB and NHL teams — has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the company announced Monday evening.

“DSG will continue to broadcast sports and connect fans across the country with the sports and teams they love,” Diamond CEO David Preslack said in a press release. “With the support of our creditors, we expect to execute a speedy and efficient restructuring and emerge from the restructuring process as a stronger company.”

This has been expected for some time, and Bally will not only be leaving the teams and networks. But things are changing. The question for the NBA has been what’s next?

In an ideal world, the NBA would like to buy those local rights, combine them with the rights of 14 other teams, and be able to sell those rights in an NFL-style package where the league controls and sets the terms. for everything. That’s not going to happen either, or at least not quickly and certainly not cheaply. There are high priced RSNs that aren’t interested in selling, such as the Lakers, who essentially have their own channel in Los Angeles at a ridiculous dollar price. Same with the Knicks in New York – does anyone think Dolan will sell MSG Network? Then there’s our parent company Comcast/NBC which currently has the local broadcast rights to many of the best properties around the league – Boston Celtics, Golden State Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, etc. – and is not looking to sell.

Diamond is going to sell the territorial ones it holds, including the rights to 14 NBA teams. When, to whom and for how much are just a few of the questions that remain to be answered. That remains to be seen as the NBA is also in the early stages of negotiating a new national broadcast rights deal that is set to begin in 2025.

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