The Boston Celtics are finding themselves back chasing the Cleveland Cavaliers after a tough week, but there is still enough time for them to catch the defending champs for the East's top seed. They did their part in this process on Saturday night, holding off a late rally from the Charlotte Hornets for a 121-114 victory. The win pulls them within a half game of the Cavs for the top spot in the East, as Isaiah Thomas led the way yet again with 32 points. Al Horford added 16 points, while Kelly Olynyk had 13 points and 11 rebounds for his first double-double of the season. Boston did not make it easy on themselves, as they blew a 19-point lead to fall behind by seven points in the fourth quarter. Nicolas Batum had a season-high tying 31 points, while Kemba Walker had 23 to lead the furious Hornet rally that fell just short. The loss officially eliminates Charlotte from playoff contention. The Celtics have a favorable schedule compared to the Cavaliers. Boston has two home games left against Brooklyn and Milwaukee, while the Cavs hit the road for Atlanta and Miami, before ending the season at home against Toronto.
Lillard Goes Off for 59 in Blazers' Key Win
The Portland Trail Blazers are attempting to hold off the Denver Nuggets for the final playoff spot in the West, and Damian Lillard came up big at the right time on Saturday night. Lillard scored a career and franchise high 59 points in the Blazers' 101-86 win over the Utah Jazz. The hot scorer made nine three-pointers, and surpassed Damon Stoudamire's old franchise-record of 54 points. Lillard just missed out on a chance at 60 points when he missed two of three free throws in the final seconds. Despite that, the point guard set another franchise record with his 27th game with 30 or more points, as his team led by as many as 20 points. Gordon Hayward led the way for the Jazz in the loss with 21 points, as they fall into a tie with the Clippers for the fourth seed in the West. The Blazers remain a game and a half ahead of Denver with just two games remaining.
Maple Leafs Clinch Playoff Berth With Win
So this is the vision the Toronto Maple Leafs had with all their young talent and Mike Babcock as head coach, and that's a return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They clinched a playoff berth on Saturday night with a 5-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. It is their first playoff berth since 2013 and second since 2004, coming in Babcock's second season with the team. Young star Auston Matthews scored on Saturday to become the fourth rookie to score 40 goals under the age of 20. It was Connor Brown's 20th tally of the season that gave the Leafs the lead for good, while Kasperi Kapanen also netted his first career NHL goal in the victory. Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk also scored for Toronto, who still remains in a battle with the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division. Both teams sit with 95 points, but Boston has the upper-hand with four more regulation/OT wins.