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NBA playoff watch – Memphis Grizzlies in play-in tournament; New Orleans Pelicans on ropes

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With the addition of play-in games to the 2021 NBA playoffs, the scramble for seeding is wilder — and more important — than ever, with almost every game down the stretch having significant postseason implications.

Here’s a breakdown of the key games from Monday and what the results mean for the seedings:

Memphis clinched a spot in the play-in tournament with the victory, but the fight for seeding continues. The race for the No. 8 spot in the West — and the safety net of having to win just one of two games to make the playoffs — could come down to the regular season’s final day, when Memphis and Golden State meet. The good thing for the Grizzlies is they don’t have to leave home until that matchup as they have games against Dallas and two against Sacramento before the finale.

The Pelicans’ play-in tournament hopes are now hanging by a thread. With three games left on their schedule (at Dallas, at Golden State, vs. Los Angeles Lakers), New Orleans would have to win out and hope the San Antonio Spurs lose out the rest of the way. Oh, and the Pelicans still don’t have Brandon Ingram (left ankle sprain) back and Zion Williamson (fractured left ring finger) also is out. — Andrew Lopez

Russell Westbrook made history with his 182nd career triple-double, but he missed a late 3-pointer as the Wizards slipped to the No. 10 spot in the East pecking order.

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Russell Westbrook’s last-second shot to win the game ricochets off the rim as the Wizards lose to the Hawks, 125-124.

The Hawks, meanwhile, moved within a half-game of the Knicks for the No. 4 spot in the East behind a 36-point effort by Trae Young. After a rematch with Washington on Wednesday, Atlanta has a favorable finish with games against the Magic and Rockets.


Indiana swapped spots with the Wizards, moving into the No. 9 slot in the East, and reduced its magic number for clinching a play-in berth to two with four games remaining.

The Pacers have a tough closing stretch, with home games against the Sixers, Bucks and Lakers before finishing on the road against Toronto.


Play-in matchups entering Monday’s games

Play-in games to be held May 18-21

How the play-in tournament will work

Current NBA standings

EAST

Game 1: No. 8 Charlotte at No. 7 Boston — winner is No. 7 seed in playoffs

Game 2: No. 10 Indiana at No. 9 Washington — winner moves on in play-in; loser is eliminated

Game 3: Indiana/Washington winner at Boston/Charlotte loser — winner is No. 8 seed in playoffs

WEST

Game 1: No. 8 Golden State at No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers — winner is No. 7 seed in playoffs

Game 2: No. 10 San Antonio at No. 9 Memphis — winner moves on in play-in; loser is eliminated

Game 3: Memphis/San Antonio winner at Lakers/Golden State loser — winner is No. 8 seed in playoffs


Tuesday’s key games

Nuggets at Hornets, 7 ET
Heat at Celtics, 7:30 ET
Clippers at Raptors, 7:30 ET
Sixers at Pacers, 8 ET
Nets at Bulls, 8 ET
Mavericks at Grizzlies, 8 ET
Magic at Bucks, 9 ET
Suns at Warriors, 10 ET
Knicks at Lakers, 10 ET

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Top NBA draft prospect Jalen Suggs signs multiyear deal with Adidas

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Jalen Suggs has landed a multiyear footwear and apparel deal with Adidas ahead of his anticipated selection early in the 2021 NBA draft on Thursday.

“I’m so excited to be with the brand,” the former Gonzaga star said. “I grew up inspired by D-Rose and Dame [Lillard] and want to follow in the steps of the young Adidas family coming up now like Trae [Young] and Don [Mitchell].”

After a breakout freshman season leading the Nike-sponsored Bulldogs to the national championship game of the NCAA tournament, Suggs became one of the most sought-after players entering shoe deal talks this spring.

The deal was negotiated by Wasserman, with Suggs and the agency holding a series of seven presentations — most in person, some virtual — in Los Angeles to begin the process. Adidas ultimately emerged as Suggs’ choice.

Along with outlining product plans for Green in both basketball and lifestyle footwear categories, the brand committed to funding a court refurbishment in his hometown of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and mapped out a pathway to a potential signature shoe down the road.

Adidas currently makes signature footwear for James Harden, Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard, Donovan Mitchell and Trae Young, with each product being released during the player’s second or third season with the company.

In addition to Suggs, Adidas has finalized endorsement deals with three other players expected to be selected near the top of the draft, signing explosive wing Jalen Green, versatile big man Evan Mobley and scoring guard Sharife Cooper.

“Each individual brings something unique to our team,” Eric Wise, global GM of basketball at Adidas, said in a statement. “From their talent and work ethic on the court, to a community-first mindset, values and openness to collaboration, we cannot wait to see where this week takes them.”

Behind the scenes, the brand recently merged its Originals and Basketball departments to work more closely together, as the culture of the sport has continued to blur the lines between performance and lifestyle in recent years.

Another factor in swaying players to land with the brand has been the recent appointment of designer Jerry Lorenzo, founder of high-fashion brand Fear of God, to help lead the creative and business strategy of Adidas Basketball. Lorenzo has launched coveted crossover basketball sneakers with Nike in the past, while also carving out his own sought-after footwear category at Fear of God, before signing a long-term partnership with Adidas in late 2020.

With new designers at the helm and a new hybrid marketing approach, along with existing signature athletes he has long looked up to, Suggs is looking ahead to a future with Adidas as he begins his NBA career.

“We will create culture together,” Suggs said. “And if you give me some time, I will pursue greatness like them.”

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Nets announce Mike D’Antoni’s departure from coach Steve Nash’s staff

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NEW YORK — Mike D’Antoni is leaving the Brooklyn Nets, forcing Steve Nash to make another change on his coaching staff.

Nash announced the 70-year-old D’Antoni’s decision in a statement Wednesday, saying having the two-time Coach of the Year was “invaluable” in his first season as a coach.

“I will be forever grateful for his guidance and will carry on a lifetime of lessons from the many years we’ve spent together,” Nash said in the statement. “Our players and staff all benefited from this time in Broolyn and we wish Mike, Laurel and their family the very best in what lies ahead.”

D’Antoni won the 2005 Coach of the Year award in Phoenix when Nash was his point guard, then another in Houston in 2017. He has long been regarded as one of the NBA’s best offensive coaches and helped the Nets reach the second round of the playoffs, where they lost to eventual champion Milwaukee in seven games.

The Nets already lost one assistant this offseason when Ime Udoka left to become Boston Celtics coach. David Vanterpool was hired to replace him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Mike D’Antoni announces departure from Nets coach Steve Nash’s staff

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NEW YORK — Mike D’Antoni is leaving the Brooklyn Nets, forcing Steve Nash to make another change on his coaching staff.

Nash announced the 70-year-old D’Antoni’s decision in a statement Wednesday, saying having the two-time Coach of the Year was “invaluable” in his first season as a coach.

“I will be forever grateful for his guidance and will carry on a lifetime of lessons from the many years we’ve spent together,” Nash said in the statement. “Our players and staff all benefited from this time in Broolyn and we wish Mike, Laurel and their family the very best in what lies ahead.”

D’Antoni won the 2005 Coach of the Year award in Phoenix when Nash was his point guard, then another in Houston in 2017. He has long been regarded as one of the NBA’s best offensive coaches and helped the Nets reach the second round of the playoffs, where they lost to eventual champion Milwaukee in seven games.

The Nets already lost one assistant this offseason when Ime Udoka left to become Boston Celtics coach. David Vanterpool was hired to replace him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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