• The Warriors and Pelicans are surging while the Sixers take a one-game lead in their series versus the Heat. Nikola Mirotic goes berserk. Again. A masked hero returns from injury to carry his team to a key win for a series lead. All that and more in this edition of the Daily Dish.

    The Man in the Carbon Fiber, Kevlar-reinforced Mask

    A masked Joel Embiid returned to action on Thursday and helped power the Sixers to a 128-108 victory over the Heat with 23 points and a full line. Not only did he return with a bang, but Embiid took it to Hassan Whiteside and got him into foul trouble, which hampered his ability to make an impact in the game. Ben Simmons flirted with a triple-double and Dario Saric continued on his scoring tear with his fourth straight 20-plus point game.

    Robert Covington was a quiet but still stuffed stat sheet, nonetheless. Marco Belinelli was a one-man wrecking crew off the bench with 21 points and a buttload of threes.

    Goran Dragic, James Johnson, and Justise Winslow stepped up for the Heat. Dragic scored a team-high 23 points while Winslow dropped a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double. Johnson cashed in with some money counters with both Whiteside and Olynyk left pretty much ineffective for most of the game.

    The Sixers stay in South Beach for Game 4 with the Heat needing to pull out a rabbit out of a hat for what is essentially a must-win game.  While I’d like to see this series go the distance, I expect the Sixers to close this one out in six.

    Pelicans Go Airborne, Bombard Blazers

    The Pelicans are on the verge of an upset-sweep of the Blazers after taking them down in Game 3 119-102. Nikola Mirotic was the main protagonist of this chapter, dropping 30 points on a blistering 12-of-15 shooting from the field and a phat stat line with zero turnovers. Talk about the Blazers’ poor perimeter defense. Ouch! As expected Anthony Davis dropped an impressive 28-11 double-double and five combined steals and blocks, while the Pels’ backcourt duo of Rondo and Holiday chipped in 16 points apiece.

    Jusuf Nurkic was clearly hampered by both his leg contusion and foul trouble. Yeah, Anthony Davis browbeat him all over the court (pun intended). The trio of Lillard, McCollum, and Aminu scored 20 points or more, apiece, but the Blazers’ bench was largely ineffective against what the Pelicans brought to the table.

    My take, the Pelicans clean up this series with a sweep. They’re simply that sharp right now.

    No Curry Needed to Spice Things Up

    Speaking of impending sweeps, the Warriors are now 3-0 over the Spurs after claiming Game 3 110-97. Still without Stephen Curry (knee), Kevin Durant spearheaded the Warrior’s offense with 26 points, nine rebounds and six dimes. Klay Thompson chipped in with 19 markers, while Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala added 10 points each. KD did roll his ankle and left the game in the fourth quarter, so there is that glimmer of hope for a last stand at the Alamo. Durant still expects to play on Sunday so the Spurs will have to muster up some extra mojo to topple Warriors.

    The Dubs played to their strengths and not even an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double from LaMarcus Aldridge was not enough to carry the Spurs. Tony Parker miraculously turned back the clock with 16 points in 17 minutes off the bench, but the Basketball Gods were not able to bless his team with an upset.

    The Dubs should close this one out 4-0.

Fantasy News

  • Marcus Smart - G - Boston Celtics

    Marcus Smart (torn oblique) said he is nowhere near returning, but is "ecstatic" with the progress he has made.

    Smart was spotted putting up some light shots during morning shootaround and said he will probably begin jogging in the next couple weeks. Jaylen Brown should continue to start in place of Smart.

    Source: Jay King on Twitter

  • Tyronn Lue - Team - Cleveland Cavaliers

    Lakers GM Rob Pelinka is expected to meet with Tyronn Lue in regards to the vacant head coaching position on Friday.

    Monty Williams and Lue figure to be the favorites for the head coaching position. Each coach brings a valuable relationship to the table: Williams coached and has a relationship with Anthony Davis, who has mentioned the Lakers being one of his preferred destinations and Lue coached LeBron James and the Cavs to a championship in 2016. Pelinka is expected to meet with Williams again following the Sixers’ playoff run.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Patrick McCaw - SG/SF - Toronto Raptors

    Patrick McCaw (right thumb sprain) is probable for Game 3 versus the Magic.

    McCaw provides extra depth on the wing for the Raptors, but he is not expected to come out of the gate playing a major role. If he does enter to rotation he would likely take minutes from Jodie Meeks and Jeremy Lin.

    Source: Eric Koreen on Twitter

  • Lou Williams - G - Los Angeles Clippers

    Lou Williams was held in check in Thursday's 105-132 Game 3 loss to the Warriors with 16 points on 4-of-11 shooting to go with two rebounds, six assists and a 3-pointer.

    It was clear from the beginning that the Warriors' defensive scheme would revolve around making life difficult for Williams and it worked. His scoring line doesn't look too bad thanks to garbage time, but Williams couldn't get anything going from the moment he checked into the game. They wanted to give Sweet Lou less control of the ball and force him to rely on his teammates and unfortunately, his teammates came up short. If Lou can get some outside help from anyone else besides Montrezl Harrell, the Clippers have an outside shot, but if not, this series will be over shortly.

  • Andrew Bogut - C - Golden State Warriors

    Andrew Bogut led the Warriors in rebounding in Game 3 with 14 boards to go with eight points on 4-of-5 shooting with five dimes, a steal and a block on Thursday.

    Bogut looked sharp from the jump and if he can continue to play like this, their title odds will barely take a hit. DeMarcus Cousins (quad) is most likely out for the remainder of the playoffs, but the Warriors starters are well in tune with Bogut and there's so much talent on this team that all he has to do is stay within his role and do the dirty work which is something he's used to.

  • Montrezl Harrell - F/C - Los Angeles Clippers

    Montrezl Harrell scored 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting with four rebounds and two assists in Thursday's Game 3 against the Warriors.

    Harrell was able to score, but he couldn't keep up in the pick-and-roll with Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry. It's a tall task for anyone and tonight it led to a bunch of layups for Andrew Bogut and Kevon Looney as Harrell isn't a bad defender, but he's nowhere near the level you need to be to guard the Warriors.

  • Danilo Gallinari - F - Los Angeles Clippers

    Danilo Gallinari struggled in Thursday's Game 3 with nine points on 2-of-13 shooting with six rebounds and three assists.

    Gallo couldn't get anything going against the Warriors and if the Clippers are going to have any chance in this series they're going to need a lot more from him. He went 0-for-8 from deep to compound his struggles within the arc as well. The team's offense is entirely predicated around Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell but that won't be enough to take four games off the Warriors.

  • JaMychal Green - F - Los Angeles Clippers

    JaMychal Green scored 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting with five rebounds, an assist and three 3-pointers in Thursday's Game 3.

    Green played much better than Ivica Zubac (17 minutes, 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting with 15 rebounds, a steal and a block) tonight although the box score doesn't show that. Zubac became unplayable after the first seven minutes of the game and Rivers had much better results with Green in the game and Zubac's stats were all in garbage time when the game was out of hand.

  • Kevin Durant - F - Golden State Warriors

    Kevin Durant responded to a poor outing in Game 2 by dropping 38 points on 14-of-23 shooting while adding four rebounds, seven assists, a steal, a block and three 3-pointers in Thursday's Game 3 win over the Clippers.

    He had a bad Game 2. but Durant came out firing immediately in Game 3. There was no way that the Clippers were going to stop him and tonight he came out and looked like he actually cared and enjoyed his teammates which is bad news for the league. He had 27 points at halftime and as long as he and Stephen Curry are healthy, the Warriors should be the favorites to come out of the West.

  • Andre Iguodala - G/F - Golden State Warriors

    Andre Iguodala led the Warriors bench with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting with two rebounds, three assists, two blocks and three 3-pointers in Thursday's Game 3 win.

    Iguodala was nailing his triples tonight and had a bench-high plus-17 in tonight's game. If he can knock down his outside shot, it's just extra as his main role is being the glue guy and playing solid defense.