February 11, 2019, 3:49 am
When the Warriors won their first championship many began to opine that the dominance of big men was coming to an end thanks to the pace and space that the Warriors brought to the association. While the Warriors are still the team to beat we’ve seen a resurgence at the center position as more and more dominant bigs have become mainstays over the past few years. Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Nikola Vucevic and Jusuf Nurkic are all relatively new fantasy stars who’ve delivered big lines for owners this season. Even the Warriors have gotten in the act with DeMarcus Cousins showing fans what they’ve been missing by overlooking the importance of having a dominant big.
Nothing like some Texas cooking
Luka Doncic looks to have the ROY trophy locked down considering that he has the Dallas Mavericks within striking distance of the playoffs. The Mavs will likely fall off a bit more now that they’ve traded away for the future at the deadline. Doncic has been no less impressive, scoring 28 points with nine boards, six assists, four triples and a block on Sunday against the Blazers. The Mavs emerged victorious 102-101 and newly acquired Tim Hardaway Jr. played his part with 24 points, four boards, three assists and two triples. Hardaway was previously known for his efficiency but this season he’s been south of forty percent from the field, now that he has a bit more talent around him he’s going to have the ability to take better shots and might approach his top-100 value post-All-Star break. Dwight Powell is a possible pickup moving forward, he’s still coming off the bench but he’s the Mavs most talented healthy big, delivering 13 points eight boards and two assists.
Lillard Time gets lost
The Blazers played horribly in the final frame on Sunday, scoring a dismal nine points. Damian Lillard still had an attempt for a game winner though, but his finger-roll missed as time ticked away. Lillard finished the evening with six triples, 30 points, five assists, three boards and two steals. He’s a top-12 lock and considering he doesn’t miss games it is no surprise that his season value by totals will put him in the top-10. Jusuf Nurkic played well with a double-double before fouling out in the final frame, scoring 18 with 10 boards, a block and an assist. Zach Collins did his part covering in the waning minutes with seven points, nine boards, two steals, two blocks and an assist. Collins missed 3-of-4 freebies tonight and will likely be kicking himself tonight given the one-point loss. C.J. McCollum finally cooled down after his streak of six games with 20+, he scored 14 points with five assist and five boards. The Blazers have been running an 11-man rotation since acquiring Rodney Hood (eight points, two triples, 24 minutes), look for one of the guys (Meyers Leonard) to completely fall off in the coming weeks.
Big Bad Joel knocks off the King’s crown
Joel Embiid came ready to claim the crown as the Eastern Conference’s premier player on Sunday as the Sixers hosted LeBron James and the Lakers. Philly blew out the Lakers 143-120, led by Embiid’s 37 points, 14 boards, two triples, three assists and a steal. Embiid is going to have a lot of fun with Tobias Harris (22 points, six assists, six boards, three triples, one block) as he highlighted that having a shooter like Harris makes him a more willing passer. J.J. Redick joins Harris as the only other Philly player with twenty or more in the matinee affair with 21 points, five assists, three triples, two steals and two boards. Jimmy Buckets (15 points, four boards three assists) and Ben Simmons (eight points seven assists, a block and steal) weren’t needed tonight. Owners will likely see a similar sight occurring on a nightly basis as all five guys won’t make as big of an impact in the scoring column.
Whatcha talking ‘bout Kuz?
Kyle Kuzma did his best to keep the Lakers in the game on Sunday, scoring 39 points on five triples but came up short as only the starters came ready to play. LeBron James had a quiet night by some standards with 18 points, 10 boards, nine assists, two triples. JaVale McGee continues to re-establish his dominance as he’s the unquestioned starter once again with 21 points, 13 boards, a steal, a block and an assist. Brandon Ingram was the final Laker to positively impact the game with 19 points, four boards and four assists. Reggie Bullock (two points, two blocks, a steal and three assists) drew the start over Rajon Rondo (seven assists, three boards) but both guys struggled to get their shots to fall.
Just put it in the Bags
Marvin Bagley grew up in Phoenix, and on Sunday he delivered his finest performance of his rookie season with a career-high 32 points, seven boards, a triple, a steal, a block and an assist on 10-of-15 shooting in the 117-104 win against the Suns. Willie Cauley-Stein came in with his own season-high with five blocks along with 10 points and eight boards. The Kings are playing well and want to make a run at the post-season so don’t be surprised if you see them lean more heavily on their top producers like Bogdan Bogdanovic (14 points, five boards, five assists, three steals) and Buddy Hield (18 points, six boards, three triples, a steal and a block) who at times have lost playing time to lesser competition. Harrison Barnes didn’t do much on Sunday, scoring nine points with four boards, three assists and two steals. His value is based on scoring and he’s now on a team that doesn’t need that skillset as much as his last.
Introducing Johnny “the IceMan” Isaac
Jonathan Isaac is an athletic specimen, on Sunday in the 124-108 blowout of the Hawks he put it all together for 17 points, three triples, five blocks, two steals and three boards. That’s double-digit counters from a player who only logged 28 minutes. Newly minted All-Star Nikola Vucevic continued his career-defining campaign with 19 points, 12 boards, three assists, a block and a triple. Evan Fournier and D.J. Augustin both scored in the teens while handing out a combined 17 assists. Aaron Gordon, who was questionable heading into the game due to a sore lower back scored a dozen with a block, two triples, three assists and three boards. Terrence Ross should have a bit more breathing room off the bench with Jonathon Simmons now in Philly, he dropped 18 with six boards and two triples in 24 minutes.
Baby Hawks fail to fly on Sunday
The Hawks had six scorers in double-figures on Sunday, but it was due to how quickly the game became a blowout. No player logged more than 28 minutes on the night. Alex Len was the high mark for the evening with 16 points off the bench, he hit two triples and added a block. Fellow big off the bench Omari Spellman was impressive with 10 points, two triples, a steal, two assists and five boards in 26 minutes. Spellman is my sleeper for top-150 production late in the season. Kevin Huerter and John Collins led the starters with 15 apiece. Taurean Prince only scored eight points but added two blocks, a steal, two triples, a board and three assists to fill the box. Trae Young was the most productive Hawk with 13 points, seven assists, five boards and two triples.
The Golden Warriors emerge victorious
Kevin Durant had a rough Sunday night, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson both logged more productive performances than the finals MVP who only hit a triple in the waning moments of the game. KD’s rough night is a bit overblown, he scored 39 points, hit 16-of-24 shots, with six boards, four assists and a block. Klay scored 29 with six triples while Curry drained 25 points with five triples and two steals. Draymond Green got in on the action with 14 assists, five points, seven boards, a block and a steal in the 120-118 win against the Heat. Boogie Cousins didn’t score much, just adding seven points but his three blocks and two steals were big for the Warriors in the close game. He should continue to get comfortable over the All-Star break and look for him to show a bit more once we approach the stretch run.
A career-high isn’t enough from J-Rich
Josh Richardson has had a season of growth, he’s averaging a career-high in scoring and he set his single-game high on Sunday with 37 points and a career-high eight triples. J-Rich added five assists, a steal and a board. Dion Waiters started for his second straight game with Tyler Johnson out of town and Goran Dragic still out and delivered 24 points, six triples, four assists, three boards, a steal and a block. This was by far his best game of the season but it’s hard to trust Waiters as his window of opportunity will shrink once the Heat get healthy again. For now, keep an eye on his production, maybe he’s taken a step forward now that he’s a bit more mature and knows the system in Miami. Justise Winslow brought some solid defense on one end of the court and scored 22 points with six boards, four assists and four triples on the other end. Dwayne Wade almost made it out of Oracle a hero, he blocked Durant’s turnaround jumper and made a layup to put the Heat up late. He finished with 10 points, nine assists, six boards, a block and a steal but missed all three freebies and only hit 5-of-14 from the field.
May 21, 2019, 12:02 amDamian Lillard - G - Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard had his best game this series in Monday's 117-119 Game 4 loss to the Warriors with 28 points and 12 assists to go with four rebounds and four 3-pointers.
Lillard went 11-for-24 from the field and hit a signature logo 3-pointer, but in the end he couldn't convert on his layup or his 3-pointer in OT to keep the Blazers' season alive. He's been playing through a rib injury which explains why he's been a bit off on offense. Tonight he brought it all in an attempt to survive, but it just wasn't enough against the juggernaut Warriors.
May 21, 2019, 12:00 amCJ McCollum - G - Trail Blazers
C.J. McCollum scored 26 points on 10-of-22 shooting with two rebounds, seven assists, a steal, two blocks and five 3-pointers in Monday's Game 4 against the Warriors.
McCollum has been the Blazers' most consistent threat on offense in this series, but he was unable to convert on some tough shots late in OT to keep the Blazers' season alive. He's improved upon last postseason, but this year ended the same as the Blazers were swept.
May 20, 2019, 11:59 pmMeyers Leonard - F/C - Trail Blazers
Meyers Leonard had a career-high 30 points on 12-of-16 shooting with 12 rebounds, three assists, a steal, a block and five 3-pointers in Monday’s Game 4 loss to the Warriors.
Leonard had 25 points in the first half thanks to his 5-for-6 shooting from deep and both of those numbers already set new career-highs. Thanks to his hot hand, the Warriors had to respect him out on the 3-point line which freed up space for Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to operate on the perimeter.
May 20, 2019, 11:58 pmAl-Farouq Aminu - F - Trail Blazers
Al-Farouq Aminu scored zero points on 0-of-2 shooting with a rebound and a block in Monday's Game 4.
Aminu stunk it up again, but the Blazers didn't get much help from their bench either. Rodney Hood (40 minutes, seven points on 3-of-11 shooting with two rebounds, two assists, two steals and a 3-pointer) and Evan Turner (six points on 3-of-4 shooting with two rebounds and a steal) didn't do much, showing that coach Stotts didn't have many options to choose from.
May 20, 2019, 11:56 pmStephen Curry - G - Golden State Warriors
Stephen Curry led the Warriors to a 119-117 OT Game 4 on Monday with 37 points on 11-of-25 shooting with 13 rebounds, 11 assists, a steal and seven 3-pointers.
Curry put on an off-ball clinic tonight, running circles around the Blazers to get open even though he drew consistent triple-teams. Steve Kerr wanted to end this series tonight so Curry played the entire second half including OT and the move paid off. There shouldn’t be any more noise about Curry’s ability to perform in the playoffs as he destroyed the Blazers in every coverage they threw at him. It’ll be all eyes on Curry again in the Finals as they look to three-peat.
May 20, 2019, 11:54 pmDraymond Green - F - Golden State Warriors
Draymond Green notched a 18-14-11 triple-double to go with three steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer in Monday’s Game 4 win over the Blazers.
Green has proven over the past two games that he still has the ability to kick it into high gear. His defensive tenacity and anticipation might be the best in the league as he’s a one-man wrecking crew on that end of the floor. His only triple was a big one late in OT and his ability to ignite the Warriors on a big run thanks to his defense and passing were huge reasons why the Warriors swept the Blazers.
May 20, 2019, 11:52 pmJordan Bell - F - Golden State Warriors
Jordan Bell started in Monday's Game 4 against the Blazers and scored seven points on 3-of-5 shooting with two assists and a steal.
Bell drew his first career playoff start after Damian Jones (DNP-CD) looked overwhelmed in his Game 3 start, but ceded the closing minutes to Kevon Looney (29 minutes, 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting with 14 rebounds, a steal and a block) who played the best out of all the Warriors' centers. Looney's timing and offensive rebounding have been huge for Golden State and his ability to switch on to perimeter players has also been a huge reason as to why he sees the floor more than the other bigs.
May 20, 2019, 11:52 pmKlay Thompson - G - Golden State Warriors
Klay Thompson struggled in Monday's Game 4 win over the Blazers with 17 points on 7-of-21 shooting with six rebounds, two assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers.
Thompson has been forced to put the ball on the floor more with the Warriors lacking playmakers and you can clearly see him out of his comfort zone. His defense was stifling tonight in crunch time as he perfectly contested both of Damian Lillard's shot attempts at the end of OT.
May 20, 2019, 11:49 pmAlfonzo McKinnie - F - Golden State Warriors
Alfonzo McKinnie started in Monday’s Game 4 win over the Blazers and scored 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting with two rebounds and a 3-pointer.
McKinnie drew the start in place of Andre Iguodala (calf strain) and had the worst plus-minus out of all the starters but came up with some big offensive rebounds in OT. He can’t space the floor any better than Shaun Livingston (22 minutes, eight points on 4-of-4 shooting with a rebound, an assist, a steal and a block) who plays much better with the Warriors’ starters so the starting job is just in name.
May 20, 2019, 9:02 pmJordan Bell - F - Golden State Warriors
Jordan Bell will start at center in Monday's Game 4 for the Warriors.
Bell has played between 11 and 15 minutes in the three conference finals games, and he's unlikely to play too much more than that tonight. Look for Kevon Looney to continue to get more minutes than Bell tonight.
Source: Anthony Slater on Twitter