April 15, 2016, 2:45 pm
The season ended on a high note on Wednesday night and set the table for what looks to be a fantastic postseason. We will get into some of the highlights from the last night of the regular season and get you all geared up for the playoffs with some predictions. A lot of meaningless games were played in the NBA on this night but the ones that mattered as well as some of the ones that didn’t matter did not disappoint. Let’s start off by looking at the Eastern conference and then taking a look at the Western conference to see how the playoff pictures shaped up.
Eastern Conference Run to the Finish:
Hawks 98, Wizards 109
The Wizards rested most of their starters on this night and yet were still able to come away with a win. Ramon Sessions lead the way with 22 points, four rebounds and six assists and Nene Hilario finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. The Hawks had all their starters playing but could not get the job done. A win for the Hawks combined with a Heat loss would have locked up the third seed in the East for them as well as the division title. Unfortunately that did not occur as they couldn’t manage to beat the Wizards’ bench squad.
Heat 88, Celtics 98
It was a simple situation for the Miami Heat as a win would have ensured that they clinched the Southeast division and the third seed in the East. Things did not work out for them as planned though as the Celtics came through with a big win in their final regular season game. Isaiah Thomas and his 21 points propelled the Celtics to a win over the Heat.
Magic 103, Hornets 117
A Hornets win and a Celtics loss would have meant the Hornets got the fifth seed. Charlotte did their part by beating the Magic, led by a 26-point effort from Al Jefferson, but the Heat weren’t able to help them out in Boston. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing for the Hornets — with a first round win they would be facing the Raptors or Pacers in the second round instead of facing the Cavs.
Eastern Conference Playoff Picture:
Due to the results of these games the playoff picture shapes up as follows:
1 vs. 8: The Cavs will be playing the Pistons in Round 1.
My prediction: Cavs win this series at home in five games. Series MVP: LeBron James averages 30 points a game and scores over 40 in one of them.
2 vs. 7: The Raptors face off with the Pacers.
My prediction: This series is harder fought then one might think and the Raptors barely come out alive with a win in Game 7 at home. Series MVP: Kyle Lowry takes over averaging over 25 points a game
3 vs. 6: The Heat were still able to hold on to the third seed because of a Hawks loss and will be facing the Hornets in their first round tilt.
My prediction: The Hornets stun the Heat and take them out in seven games. Series MVP: Kemba Walker shocks the world and averages over 28 points a game on them.
4 vs. 5: The Hawks still manage to come away with home court advantage against the Celtics here but were probably hoping for a first round battle with the Hornets. Life will only get harder for either team after the first round as a second round matchup against the Cavs is almost a certainty.
My prediction: The Hawks win in 7 games in what turns out to be the best of the four first round playoff series. X-Factor: Kent Bazemore shines for the Hawks averaging 20 points a game.
The schedule for the Eastern Conference first round matchups can be seen right here in the link.
Western Conference Run to the Finish
Kings 81, Rockets 116
The Rockets had their fate in their own hands in this one as a win or a Jazz loss would ensure a playoff berth. It didn’t take long for the Rockets to take control as they ended up smashing the Kings’ bench squad. Led by James Harden’s 38 points the Rockets were able to lock up their ticket to the playoffs for a first round matchup with the Warriors.
Grizzlies 104, Warriors 125
With a win and a Mavericks loss the Grizzlies would have been able to take the sixth seed in the West to avoid the Spurs and take on the Thunder. That did not happen for them. The Warriors won their 73rd game of the season to break the record of 72 wins set by the 95-96 Bulls.
Jazz 96, Lakers 101
With the Jazz already eliminated due to the Rockets win, the only thing that remained to be seen was Kobe Bryant’s final game of his career. No one could have expected what would happen next as Kobe went on to give the people a vintage performance for his last hurrah. With plenty of celebrities in attendance in a sold out Staples Center, he lit up the scoreboard to the tune of 60 points (highlights of very basket that Kobe made are in the link).
In a night that was supposed to be a celebration for the Warriors and their attempt at making history it seemed that Kobe stole the spotlight and gave the people a memorable performance for one last time. You could not have scripted a better ending to a fantastic career for one of the all-time greats.
Western Conference Playoff Picture
1 vs. 8: The Warriors play the Rockets in Round 1.
My prediction: Warriors sweep the Rockets and win in four games. Series MVP: Stephen Curry puts up 35 points a game averaging six three-pointers.
2 vs. 7: The Spurs face the Grizzlies.
My prediction: The Spurs beat the injury-riddled Grizzlies in four games. Series MVP: Tony Parker puts on a show and averages over 20 points a game.
3 vs. 6: The Thunder play the Mavs.
My prediction: The Thunder win this series in six games as Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs put up a decent fight against the Thunder. Series MVP: Russell Westbrook goes off on the Mavs averaging a triple-double.
4 vs. 5: The Clippers play the Blazers in what should be an interesting and exciting matchup.
My prediction: The Clippers win this one in a hard fought seven game series. Series MVP: Blake Griffin returns to form and averages over 25 points a game.
The schedule for the Western Conference first round matchups can be seen in the link.
Aside from the predictions above there is one thing that is for certain — there will be more surprises than people think. Although I only have one lower seeded team coming out of the first round, you never know how it will go down.
August 18, 2019, 11:21 pmBogdan BogdanovicSG, Sacramento Kings
Bogdan Bogdanovic scored a team-high 28 points in Serbia's 85-80 win over Greece on Sunday.
Serbia will be a tough team to beat in the 2019 FIBA World Cup thanks to Bogdanovic, Nikola Jokic and Nemanja Bjelica among others. Bjelica put up 18 points and 14 rebounds as well. They were able to beat Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 20 points. This is one of the teams that could sneak up on Team USA and pull out a win.
August 18, 2019, 10:36 pmJustin AndersonSG, Atlanta Hawks
According to The Athletic, the Wizards and Justin Anderson are trying to work towards a training camp contract.
Anderson averaged a career-low 9.6 minutes per game with the Hawks last season. The former first-round pick is looking to gain another opportunity on a thin Wizards team. He will likely not have much fantasy value if he manages to make the roster.
Source: Fred Katz on Twitter
August 18, 2019, 9:37 pmVictor OladipoSG, Indiana Pacers
Victor Oladipo is still rehabbing from his ruptured quad tendon in January, and is unsure if he will be an active participant at the Pacers' training camp when it opens in September.
Our last update from Pacers POBO Kevin Pritchard had Oladipo aiming for December or January, and that timetable still seems doable. He is taking his leadership role seriously, connecting with the Pacers' new players this summer, and it seems likely that he will make his presence felt this year at some point. Oladipo had an outstanding campaign two years ago, but even before the injury he was a disappointment last season. Fantasy owners should proceed with caution, we may not see Oladipo's top form this year.
Source: Indiana Pacers
August 18, 2019, 8:49 pmBol BolC, Denver Nuggets
Bol Bol stated that he has completely recovered from the left foot fracture that ended his college basketball career, and he is now working out twice a day for his upcoming rookie season with the Nuggets.
The multi-talented center could put up big numbers if given the opportunity with the Nuggets, but the risk for another injury is real. With that in mind, Bol is not expected to receive a lot of minutes this season. If that somehow changes, it would be exciting to see his rare combination of blocks and 3-pointers in action.
Source: Jim Slater of AFP
August 18, 2019, 7:26 pmDwight HowardC, Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies are allowing the Lakers to speak with Dwight Howard.
The news came out yesterday that the Lakers would seek permission and the fact that they were granted it suggests that Howard will not be on the Grizzlies for long. The aftermath of DeMarcus Cousins tearing his ACL left them in need of another center if they want to remain true to playing Anthony Davis exclusively at power forward. Joakim Noah is the other option on the Lakers' radar and has been a facilitator and role player in the past.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
August 18, 2019, 7:18 pmMoritz WagnerPF, Washington Wizards
Moritz Wagner has been cut from Germany’s FIBA World Cup team.
The move seems somewhat surprising given Wagner’s youth and notoriety, but Germany still has four NBA players on their roster despite cutting Wagner. The Wizards have plenty of depth in the frontcourt and Wagner is probably lower on the totem poll when it comes to receiving minutes.
Source: Dario Skerletic of Sportando
August 18, 2019, 9:33 amJonah BoldenPF, Philadelphia Sixers
Jonah Bolden has opted to withdraw from Team Australia in the FIBA World Cup.
Bolden becomes the fifth NBA player to skip out on playing for Australia in the World Cup, a trend that seems to be prevalent for several countries' national teams. Bodlen could be looking at an increased role as a backup center for Philly's thin bench this upcoming season. He is not expected to be a relevant fantasy option though.
Source: Fox Sports Australia
August 18, 2019, 9:25 amJeremy LinPG, Toronto Raptors
Jeremy Lin is in advanced discussions with the Bejing Ducks according to a report from Chinese journalist Sonx Xiang.
Lin previosuly turned down a deal to play for CSKA Moscow, and has also discussed his openness to playing in China. The nine year guard still hopes to resmue his NBA career at some point, but a move to China may be the best career option for him at this juncture.
August 18, 2019, 9:18 amDwight HowardC, Memphis Grizzlies
The Lakers will soon ask Memphis permission to speak with Dwight Howard according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Shams goes on to mention that there is mutual interest here and that Joakim Noah could be another veteran of interest for LA. The realistic options for free agents at the five really don't go much further than these two for the Lakers. Stay tuned for more updates on this developing story.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
August 18, 2019, 8:37 amDwight HowardC, Memphis Grizzlies
In the wake of the DeMarcus Cousins injury, one name the Lakers are considering is Dwight Howard, according to Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated.
Howard is still a member of the Memphis Grizzlies, but it is widely assumed that he will be waived before the season starts. A reunion in LA would certainly be pretty surprising for the Lakers after Howard famously did not resign with them after a miserable season playing with Kobe Bryant. Still, the Lakers need depth at the five and there really aren't any options on the market who compare to Howard's level of productivty, even at this stage of his career. Other center options the Lakers could pursue include Joakim Noah, Kenneth Faried and Zaza Pachulia.
Source: Rohan Nadkarni on Twitter