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Nightly Grades: Toronto clinches playoff berth

By Matt Moore | NBA writer

Each night, Eye on Basketball brings you what you need to know about the games of the NBA. From great performances to terrible clock management the report card evaluates and eviscerates the good, the bad, and the ugly from the night that was.

TeamGradeAnalysis
A-

One of those games where you really see how far John Wall has come as a player. He was patient, he was deliberate, he attacked without forcing things, he picked the Pacers' usually stingy defense apart.

If you wonder why some writers are so excited about the idea of John Wall in the payoffs, it's games like this one.

B

So... maybe things haven't completely turned around with that one win.

They were out of sorts from the get-go. They just seemed a step slow at every moment, on every possession. Pick and roll, in the post, off the cut, everything. The Wizards were one step ahead of them. They may be tired from the season, but the season's not over. They've got some tough games left on the schedule. If they want the top seed, they can't come out flat like that.

Paul George needs to go on journey to the center of the Earth to find his shot.

B-

Went down early, climbed back, went down late, pulled it out. The Raptors' season in a nutshell, and the end result?

The Raptors are back in the playoffs. Believe.

D+

Julius Randle looks like a good pro, right?

A+

Another great late-season win for Orlando, fighting back from a huge deficit to take it to overtime. Victor Oladipo continues to be an incredible weapon that grows game by game.

Arron Afflalo hit a huge shot to force overtime, but it was Nikola Vucevic who got them in position for it. He nailed a series of shots in the post and from mid-range that were money. Smart shots in the offense, and overpowered Charlotte.

Really great win for a team showing a lot of life headed into next year.

F-

This didn't kill their shot at the No. 6 seed (now 2.5 back of Washington) but it did put dent in it. They need wins against the soft part of the schedule. Even as far as clinching a playoff spot, this was a big one.

They had some good chances to close it out, but their defense of stretch fours remains problematic. It's something they probably want to work on since they're going to be facing LeBron James and Chris Bosh for four games or so.

B

Detroit's sad, but you have to credit a team that was without Wade, Allen, Chalmers, and Oden. Udonis Haslem was clinically dead a month ago and all of a sudden is making huge plays and scoring for them. They just always have guys ready to come in an contribute.

Did I mention the Pistons are bad?

F-

Burn this team to the ground and erase their stats from the internet. They're not the worst team in the league, it just feels like it a lot of nights. No one's chemistry is worse.

D

They had a lot of trouble in the post. The Nets just kind of bludgeoned them to death with patience, precision and eve distributoin. Their scoring effort was pretty decent, but the Nets just blasted their inside-out defense.

B

You have to love their patience. The experience can be old someimes, it can be slow, but it can also be patient, deliberate, and controlled. They don't let things get out of hand and they dictate pass extremely well.

Paul Pierce and Joe Jonson went 7-of-9 from three.

B

Corey Morrow can shoot, and Tyreke Evans can pass. That was pretty much all they needed. 22-5-15-3 for Evans. They even lost Anthony Davis to an ankle injury and it didn't matter. Some great ball of late from a team with nothing to play for. Good sign for the future.

D

The Jazz losing this game was like a bologna sandwich. Nothing special. Not terrible. Not great. Just bologna.

A

Tony Parker didn't play well and they won by 31.

Belinelli and Duncan combined to shoot 19-for-30 from the field.

If you see the Spurs in your neighborhood, run, do not walk indoors and call the authorities. Go to a safe place in your home with load-bearing walls and wait for help to arrive.

B

Denver just has too many injuries to do anything, and San Antonio's execution is exactly the kind of team that kills them. And by that, I mean a good one.

B

This is what makes them so infuriating. Passing, defense, movement, effort, interior toughness, and playmaking. They put it all together. Why couldn't have done this just a few more times? I get that the Lakres are awful but the Wolves can play like this more. That they didn't this season remains a painful disappointment.

F

We need to invent a time machine, go back, and make sure this team never plays a single game. Have them forfeit every game. Think of the children.

D-

I mean, what did you think was gonna happen here?

B

No, I mean seriously, what did you think was gonna happen here?

B

It's a nightmare matchup for them to begin with, and they lost Andrew Bogut to a hip injury after David Lee was already out.

Which makes their win all the better.

It comes down to this.

Steph Curry can hit shots which no one else can, and when Draymond Green, a 30 percent shooter from deep this year is knocking down perimeter shots, there's not much you can do. The Warriors didn't play well, were injured and outmatched, and won. This is why they remain so dangerous for the playoffs.

B

They again couldn't find quality open looks late in a game, and when Zach Randolph missed a few he should have made late and Mike Conley missed a few he should make, and then Curry is hitting everything, they were screwed.

It's a bad loss, but sometimes, the bad losses happen to you instead of coming as a result of what you did. The Warriors made shots in the final five, often low-percentage shots. In a playoff series, you have to try and prevent those shots as part of your strategic adjustment. Not in a regular season game.

Bad loss, tough loss, not an unforgiveable one.

A

Been talking about this for two weeks, but I'll say it again. When Phoenix is in its groove, everything comes insanely easy for them. They just flow into shots, the ball finds open looks, they tip in everything and that fuels their defensive energy.

Goran Dragic was everywhere and where he wasn't, Eric Bledsoe was. They pushed the pace and figured out in the first ten minutes that New York didn't want to run.

That's when the game was over.

F-

At one point, Bledsoe ran right past Tyson Chandler at the free throw line in transition, J.R. Smith was too slow to react and Bledsoe got right to the rim. But that's OK, though, because he missed the layup with two Knicks right there to rebound.

Goran Dragic, I say again, Goran Dragic crashed the glass for the putback.

The Knicks!

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