The Rundown: Bucks clinch playoff spot after win over Suns

Published March 15, 2023, 1:00 PMMiguel Flores

Giannis Antetokounmpo towed the Bucks to their 50th win that guaranteed them a spot in the postseason.


Cavaliers 120, Hornets 104

Wizards 117, Pistons 97

Raptors 125, Nuggets 110

Lakers 123, Pelicans 108

Thunder 121, Nets 107

Spurs 132, Magic 114

Bucks 116, Suns 104

Knicks 123, Trail Blazers 107

What went down

The Milwaukee Bucks became the first team to clinch a playoff spot and the first to 50 wins after taking a big road win against the Phoenix Suns.

It was another ho-hum game for Giannis Antetokounmpo as far as ho-hum games for the world’s best player goes. He dropped 36 points, 11 boards, and eight assists to lead the Bucks to a convincing, wire-to-wire win. He was all over the court today, giving Suns fans flashbacks to their epic 2021 Finals clash.

The Suns are still hanging around in a good spot in the West, sitting at fourth with a 37-31 record, a game and a half ahead of Golden State for homecourt advantage in a potential first round meeting.

Another team making moves in the standings is the Oklahoma City Thunder. They pulled big performances today from their young guns to outlast the Brooklyn Nets.

The win, along with other results today, vaulted OKC from 11th in the West to eighth. The Thunder have a similar 34-35 record with the Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, but the Thunder currently hold the tiebreaker over both teams.

OKC is a massive threat to any of the West’s top contenders. Today, it was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leading the way with 35 points. He got plenty of help with Josh Giddey hanging a 15-13-10 triple-double and rookie Jalen Williams adding 23 points.

Big-time baller

The Lakers also got a big win today, thanks to a big day from Anthony Davis.

AD dropped 35 points on 11-for-18 shooting with 17 boards. Lines like these have become the norm for Davis, as he leads the Lakers’ postseason push, sans LeBron James. There have been reports that James could be back in the final weeks of the season to ramp up for the playoffs. Until then, the Lakers are only going to go as far as AD, as well as their shooters, can take them.

What he said

Today is Steph Curry’s 35th birthday. If that made you feel old, Curry luckily doesn’t feel the same way. Speaking with NBC Sports, Curry says that he still feels fresh after several Finals appearances and injuries that have sidelined him from months on end.

"I never thought I'd feel this good at this age, knowing how many games we played, how many playoff runs we've had, championships we've chased and all of that," Curry said. "So I don't think I'm psyching myself out to think that, maybe not the best is yet to come, but extending the prime longer than I probably thought when I was coming into it."

Did you see that?

Richard Jefferson was never an All-Star. He was a great two-way player in his prime, contributing to successful playoff teams like the early 2000s New Jersey Nets and the late 2000s San Antonio Spurs.

But he is an all-time talker. Yesterday, Paul Pierce claimed that he had Jefferson’s number throughout their NBA career. Jefferson probably took 10 minutes to scroll through Basketball Reference and another 10 to shoot and edit this TikTok to answer Pierce’s claims.

For better context, Pierce averaged 20.4 points on 41.6 percent shooting against Jefferson throughout their entire careers – numbers close to Pierce’s career averages of 19.7 points on 44.5 percent shooting. Pierce only scored 40 points once against Jefferson; an overtime game in 2001 in which a rookie Richard Jefferson played just 19 minutes.