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NBA playoff tracker: Stephen Curry's warning shot sinks the first-place Jazz

·5-min read

Yahoo Sports will keep you updated nightly on the NBA playoff race during the last two weeks of the regular season. Check back daily for the latest movement in the standings, what to watch for and teams securing their 2020-21 playoff berths.

Monday's standings

Eastern Conference

1. Philadelphia 76ers (47-21)

2. Brooklyn Nets (44-24, 3 GB)

3. Milwaukee Bucks (43-25, 4 GB)

4. New York Knicks (38-30, 9 GB)

5. Atlanta Hawks (38-31, 9.5 GB)

6. Miami Heat (37-31, 10 GB)

Play-in tournament

7. Boston Celtics (35-33, 12 GB)

8. Charlotte Hornets (33-35, 14 GB)

9. Indiana Pacers (32-36, 15 GB)

10. Washington Wizards (32-37, 15.5 GB)

On the playoff bubble

11. Chicago Bulls (29-39, 18 GB)

Western Conference

1. Utah Jazz (50-19)

2. Phoenix Suns (48-20, 1.5 GB)

3. Los Angeles Clippers (45-23, 4.5 GB)

4. Denver Nuggets (44-24, 5.5 GB)

5. Dallas Mavericks (40-28, 9.5 GB)

6. Portland Trail Blazers (40-29, 10 GB)

Play-in tournament

7. Los Angeles Lakers (38-30, 11.5 GB)

8. Golden State Warriors (36-33, 14 GB)

9. Memphis Grizzlies (35-33, 14.5 GB)

10. San Antonio Spurs (33-35, 16.5 GB)

On the playoff bubble

11. New Orleans Pelicans (31-38, 19.5 GB)

12. Sacramento Kings (30-38, 20 GB)

Game of the night: Stephen Curry issues a warning to the first-place Jazz

Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry scored 36 points, including the go-ahead 3-pointer with 14.5 seconds remaining, to defeat the West-leading Utah Jazz, 119-116, in a potential playoff preview.

Granted, the Jazz were without All-Star guards Donovan Mitchell (ankle) and Mike Conley (hamstring), but Curry was less than full throttle himself. The sharpshooter was just 2-for-12 from distance after his first go-ahead attempt rimmed out with 21.6 seconds left. Warriors center Kevon Looney grabbed the offensive rebound, giving Curry another shot at a game-winner. And you do not want to give Curry any extra shots.

Which is why the Warriors are such a frightening first-round opponent. Monday's win gave Golden State a half-game lead over the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the play-in tournament. With Utah clinging to a 1 1/2-game lead on first place, there is a decent chance these two teams meet again in the near future, and Monday's game was at the very least a confidence boost for the Warriors against a serious contender.

There is no rest for the weary, as the Warriors host the second-place Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.

Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson scored 24 of his season-high 41 points in the fourth quarter. It wasn't enough. He missed a layup with nine seconds remaining, and his game-tying 3-point try with four seconds left hit the top of the backboard. It still might have been enough to secure his Sixth Man of the Year candidacy.

Performance of the night: Russell Westbrook breaks the triple-double record

Washington Wizards star Russell Westbrook recorded the 182nd triple-double of his career, breaking Oscar Robertson's 47-year-old record. Westbrook notched 28 points, 21 assists and 13 rebounds against the Atlanta Hawks, but his game-winning 3-point attempt fell short in the final seconds of a 125-124 loss.

It was Westbrook's fifth straight triple-double and 26th in his last 33 games. He is averaging 22 points, 11.6 assists and 11.6 rebounds, ensuring himself of a fourth season averaging a triple-double in five years.

The loss dropped the Wizards to 32-37, a half-game back of the ninth-place Pacers, who defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday night. Washington still holds a 2 1/2-game lead on the final play-in spot.  

What to watch Tuesday

New York at L.A. Lakers, 10 p.m. ET

For the first since Carmelo Anthony was an MVP candidate, the New York Knicks will travel as a playoff qualifier to Staples Center, where LeBron James might just make his return to the Los Angeles Lakers.

As if you need another reason to watch a quality Knicks team visit the Lakers in a preview of an NBA Finals fever dream scenario, there are playoff implications on the line — not the least of which is whether or not James is healthy enough to play and how he looks should he test the ankle that has cost him 24 games.

A loss to the Knicks would leave the Lakers two games behind the sixth-place Portland Trail Blazers (winners over the Houston Rockets on Monday) with three to play. Portland won its season series against the Lakers, meaning James and company would be all but assured of appearing in the play-in tournament.

New York can move one step closer to securing home-court advantage as the fourth seed in the East with a favorable first-round matchup. A loss leaves them in danger of falling behind both the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat into sixth, where Giannis Antetokounmpo's Milwaukee Bucks await as a playoff opponent.

One last thing

The Indiana Pacers' win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, led by 21 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists from All-Star center Domantas Sabonis, officially eliminated the Toronto Raptors from the playoffs.

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After losing Kawhi Leonard to free agency from the 2019 championship team, Toronto finished last season 53-19 and captured the No. 2 seed in the East. The Raptors' encore to a gritty title defense was an uninspired disaster. Due to coronavirus restrictions in Canada, they played home games in Tampa Bay, and staggered injuries to their top contributors left them incapable of clawing back from a 1-6 start, if not unwilling to. 

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