March 11, 2019, 3:52 am
Sunday delivered nine games of NBA action and after a string of blowouts, we were treated to a few compelling games. At this point in the season, the games have a different vibe as most teams are jostling for playoff positioning while most tanking teams take pride in delivering a blow to their opponent’s playoff hopes. As long as a front office isn’t meddling look for stars like Mike Conley, Devin Booker, and Luka Doncic to continue to deliver awesome lines on a nightly basis.
Starting the day off bright and early at noon Eastern were the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls. While the baby Bulls have been playing better basketball as of late the Pistons flexed their grown-man strength, winning 131-108 in the brunchtime affair. The Pistons had five players in double-figures, with each of them shooting at 50 percent or better on the evening, led by Blake Griffin’s 28 points, six boards, five assists, a steal and three triples. Andre Drummond double-doubled without missing a shot from the field to finish with 16 points, 15 assists and an assist. Reggie Jackson (six assists, one steal) and Langston Galloway (two boards, two assists) both had solid shooting nights, hitting five and six triples a piece en route to a 21 point each. Recent acquisition, Wayne Ellington only logged 15 minutes on the night due to some foul troubles, yet was still able to deliver 13 points, a steal and three triples.
Picked off LaVine too soon
The Bulls have been playing .500 basketball over the last ten games after the curtain set on Sunday’s matchup. Yet tonight they were missing the tall straw that stirs their drink in Zach LaVine (strained knee). He was questionable heading into the matchup and doesn’t play again till Monday when the Bulls face the Lakers at home. It’s likely that LaVine will have his juices flowing for a matchup with LeBron on Tuesday and will give it his best try to get out there. Due to the blowout nature of the game, no Bull starter played over 26 minutes. Otto Porter and Lauri Markkanen delivered almost identical statistical games sharing 17 points, three triples, six boards and a block each. Markkanen also added two assists and a steal while missing and taking one more shot than Porter. Wayne Seldon came alive off the bench with 28 minutes and 18 points, but he’s nothing more than a streamer when LaVine is out.
Joel, the Troll, Embiid
Joel Embiid returned after an eight-game absence and on Sunday, in a matchup with playoff implications as the winner takes control of the third seed. He took Myles Turner (top 20 over the last two months prior to tonight) to the woodshed. Embiid scored 33 points with 12 boards and two steals, leading the Sixers in impressive fashion, 106-89 in the matinee affair. Tobias Harris contributed 16 points, eight boards, two triples, four assists, a steal and a block while J.J. Redick took it easy with three triples for nine points and a block. Ben Simmons was solid with 15 points, six assists and four board and Jimmy Buckets did his best with 12 points, four boards, four assists, a steal and a block. Expect all of the Sixers starters to continue to deliver as they position for seeding in the stretch run, there is only a game separating the Sixers, Pacers and Celtics.
Pacing in the wrong direction
As we speed towards the playoffs each of the Eastern Conferences eight playoff eligible teams have won at least .500 percent of their last ten games, save the Pacers who are 4-6. With the intensity turning up as we head into the playoffs expect the Pacers to struggle a bit more with their All-Star missing as the pressure continue to mount. On Sunday that pressure resulted in Myles Turner only logging 19 minutes as he struggled with foul trouble against Joel Embiid, finishing with six points, a triple, five boards, three blocks and an assist. The entire Pacers lineup struggled except for Bojan Bogdanovic who scored a team-high 18 points with two steals, two assists, five boards and a triple. Bogdanovic has been a top-60 option over the last two weeks and will continue to be the Pacers most reliable scorer on a nightly basis.
No Klaws needed in Miami
The Raptors were without Kawhi Leonard on Sunday in South Beach but still took care of business with a 21 point win, 125-104 against the Heat. Kyle Lowry was the only starter to play over 29 minutes. He logged 35 while double-doubling with 24 points, 10 assists, seven boards and six triples. Pascal Siakam filled it up with 20 points, five assists, five boards and one of each of the moneymakers. Danny Green and Norman Powell both dropped 15 with Green adding five triples and a steal while Powell dropped in three triples. The Raptors had four more players make it into double-figures but most noticeably Marc Gasol finished the evening with six points, six boards, two steals and a block in 22 minutes. He came off the bench and will be more prone to duds when the Raptors are able to establish and early lead.
Is it me or is it getting warm in here?
The Miami Heat are holding onto the eighth seed despite the loss on Sunday, they’re up on the Magic and Hornets by a game. Miami’s depth is both a blessing and a curse as they’ve failed to find a consistent starting five. On Sunday Kelly Olynyk drew the start, but only scored one point in 24 minutes with four steals, five boards and two assists. Goran Dragic played in his second game back from a left calf strain and dropped 11 points, a triple, four boards and three assists, while Justice Winslow scored 10 points, three boards, two assists, a steal and a triple. Dwyane Wade continues to prove that there’s some sort of Fountain of Youth in Florida with 15 points, three steals, four assists, two boards and a triple. Bam Adebayo was solid with 19 points, six boards, five assists and two steals, he’s pushed Hassan Whiteside (eight points, seven boards) out of the starting five.
Grizzled and Gritty
Mike Conley and the Memphis Grizzlies are finishing out a “lost season” as they’ve started a rebuilding process by shipping Marc Gasol out of town. Unfortunately for the Magic that doesn’t mean that they won’t try to win, and that’s exactly what they did on Sunday in the 105-97 victory over the playoff-hopefuls. Mike Conley led the way with another explosive fourth quarter after delivering in similar fashion earlier in the week against the Blazers. He finished with 26 points, eight assists, five boards and a triple. Jonas Valanciunas swatted four shots with 12 points and eight boards while Avery Bradley continued to find his renewed confidence from deep with three made triples on his way to 21 points, two steals and three assists.
Evan Fournier finished Sunday’s game with no points in 14 minutes after being ejected for what Coach Steve Clifford felt was “Uncalled for, unwarranted and it changed the whole game.” The Frenchman reportedly didn’t use any vulgar language, and by Clifford’s analysis was ejected for very little reason. Considering the recent controversy, the refs have faced this season one would hope that there’s a bit more leniency towards the players as we head into the playoffs. Nikola Vucevic wasn’t too rattled though, scoring 26 with 10 boards and a full box. Terrence Ross picked up the slack with 15 points three triples, two steals and two blocks. Aaron Gordon continued his pedestrian production with 13 points, seven boards and six assists.
Battle of the birds, Hawks stay flying
The Atlanta Hawks dispatched with the Pelicans 128-116 on Sunday thanks to some high-flying dunks and some sweet shooting from the entire crew, minus Trae Young. The Hawks’ balanced attack saw eight players score at least eight points, with seven of them reaching double figures and seven of those eight hitting at least a single triple. Trae Young finished with 10 points, 10 assists and five boards but struggled by only hitting 2-of-14 shots and no triples for the game. John Collins also double-doubled with 23 points, 10 boards, two triples and four blocks. Rookie Kevin Huerter led the Hawks with 27 points, four triples, four boards, three assists and a steal. Alex Len continued his mini-hot streak with 19 points, nine boards, three triples and a block. With Dewayne Dedmon (eight points, six boards, two steals) returning from a two-game absence due to a right knee contusion we should see Len cede the starting job shortly.
Triple-double goodies and losses to boot
Anthony Davis ended up playing on Sunday and leading the Pelicans in production with four blocks, three triples, a steal, four assists, eight boards and 15 points in 21 minutes. The Pelicans are okay losing games as long as their most valuable asset makes it to the offseason healthy enough to be traded. Elfrid Payton is producing at a high level with Jrue Holiday out of commission, dropping a triple-double with 15 points, 10 assists, 10 boards, and one of each of the money stats. Frank Jackson has been a top-150 player over the last two weeks thanks to solid percentages and threes, on Sunday he continued the trend with 23 points, three triples and six boards on 56 percent shooting. Julius Randle also scored 23 while filling the box with four triples, three boards and one of every other counter. Kenrich Williams is holding onto top-150 value thanks to solid defensive contributions which was represented by his two blocks, a steal, a triple and nine points in the game.
Everythings Harden in Texas
Chris Paul had a historic night on Sunday with nine points, nine assists, two steals, two blocks and two triples, a line that thanks to the assists, helped move him into seventh all-time on the assists list (passing Isiah Thomas). Paul struggled to score, only hitting 2-of-11 shots while fellow star James Harden fared even worse with 20 points on 7-of-25 shooting with three triples and a block. The Rockets got what they came for though, emerging victorious in Dallas 94-93 thanks to Eric Gordon’s team-high 26 points with five triples. Clint Capela also did his part with a 17-point and 12-board double-double.
Luka here fella
Luka Doncic is a man amongst boys when looking at the rest of his rookie class. While Trae Young has delivered a Rookie of the Year race Luka has continued to march to the beat on his own drum while delivering nutty lines like he did on Sunday. Doncic scored 19 points with 15 boards but didn’t stop there as he added nine assists, a triple, two steals and two blocks. Despite only hitting 5-of-16 shots was one of the top producers in 8-cat leagues on Sunday. He was one shot short of winning the game as well but he chose to pass out of a triple team instead of forcing one late to win it. Maxi Kleber doubled-doubled with 10 points, 11 boards, three blocks and a steal while Jalen Brunson did his best with 18 points, seven boards, four assists and a triple. Brunson is worth a look if you could benefit from his scoring but given Luka is running the offense his assists numbers tend to wildly fluctuate game by game.
Howl if you hear me
The Timberwolves entered Sunday’s game missing over 40 points from their starting lineup in the form of Andrew Wiggins (day-to-day, left quad contusion) and Karl-Anthony Towns (day-to-day, knee). That wasn’t a huge issue as they still dispatched the Knicks on their home court 103-92 thanks to solid contributions from Taj Gibson and Jeff Teague. Gibson scored a team-high 25 with eight boards two steals and a block while Teague double-doubled with 20 points, 10 assists, two blocks, a steal and a triple. Keita Bate-Diop was a pleasant surprise with a career-high 18 points, six boards, two steals, two blocks and two triples. Bates-Diop is a second-round pick from this year’s draft and is unlikely to maintain any value outside of DFS once Wiggins returns. In his two games as a starter, he has produced double-digit points while adding in some counters in each game.
D-Dotty, M-Rob and the K-Knox experience
Damyean Dotson is scoring well with Tim Hardaway Jr. out of New York, delivering a top-170 return over the last month. On Sunday he led the Knicks with 26 points, four triples, two steals, six assists and six boards. Dotson was a second-round pick in 2017 and this year’s second-round gem Mitchell Robinson is delivering blocks by the bushel with five against the Wolves while adding 10 boards and eight points. Robinson has at least two swats for 15 straight games but still struggles with foul trouble on a nightly basis. Kevin Knox scored 13 points with five boards and four assists, he’s going to improve a lot over the summer as he has the skills to be an efficient offensive player but lacks the little things that really bring together an explosive fantasy star. As his body continues to fill out and as he learns the tricks of the NBA Knox will be in line to deliver juicy fantasy lines.
Spur of the BAT
The Spurs have a bat problem in San Antonio, but considering they were able to beat the NBA-leading Bucks 121-114 on Sunday it might be more of a blessing. The Spurs are winners of five straight and LaMarcus Aldridge has activated “Playoff Mode” with 29 points, 15 boards, two steals, two blocks a triple and two assists. DeMar DeRozan joined in with 28 points, two steals, a block, six assists and four boards. Rudy Gay missed the game with an illness so we saw a bit more of Marco Belinelli who converted on 30 minutes played with 16 points, four triples, three boards, two assists and a steal. He’s more of a streamer when Gay misses time so don’t get too excited. Derrick White struggled with the Bucks’ size, logging his worst game in the last two weeks with seven points, four assists and three boards on 3-of-10 shooting.
A bat in headlights
The Bucks had to deal with an extra player on the court on Sunday when a bat swooped around the player’s heads in the third quarter. It didn’t affect Giannis Antetokounmpo much as he still double-doubled with 27 points, 13 boards, six assists and a block. It seems like Brook Lopez, on the other hand, might have been hoping to get lucky, and become a superhero if he got bit, he only hits 2-of-6 shots to score 11 points with 10 boards, a block, a steal and a triple. Back in February Lopez dropped a gem for SB Nation on bats “If you see a bat around and it bites you, you have a 75 percent chance of ending up a superhero. Otherwise, you’ll probably get really sick.” Maybe Lopez needs to look up and see that he already has a superhero on his roster in Giannis. Eric Bledsoe contributed with 21 points and two triples while Khris Middleton added 15 with eight boards and a triple.
Suns capitalize the in Golden State
Devin Booker is looking more and more like James Harden “lite” every day. On Sunday he willed his Suns to a win in Oakland 115-111, dropping 37 points with 11 assists, eight boards, two steals and two triples. Booker scored 11 straight at one point in the fourth and despite a few late turnovers, ended up delivering a win to the bottom-dwelling Suns. Kelly Oubre Jr. continued his extension worthy season with 22 points, four triples, five boards, a steal, a block and an assist. It starting to seem like we might not see T.J. Warren at full strength, if at all this season, so Oubre’s production should continue. Mikal Bridges delivered his own juicy line off the bench with 10 points, three steals, two triples and four boards. Deandre Ayton (18 points, nine boards, one block, one steal) isn’t even in the same stratosphere as Luka Doncic and Trae Young in the rookie race due to the Suns’ tanking ways but he’s going to be a fantasy star in no time.
Super Splosh Bros
Sometimes you just miss the mark, on Sunday the Warriors’ Super Splash Bros had their worst shooting display from deep in their career, combining for 22 missed triples on a shared 4-of-15 shooting from deep. Despite the poor shooting, both guys filled the box for owners with Klay delivering 28 points, five boards, five assists, three steals and a block. Klay’s late defense against Booker almost stole the game back but his poor pass to Curry really hurt their chances. Steph did his thing with 18 points, seven boards, five assists three steals and a block. Kevin Durant went down late with an ankle tweak, he walked off under his own power and his absence appeared to be more cautionary than anything. Durant finished with 25 points and could be at risk next week as the Warriors only play twice, with their first game coming on the road in Houston on Wednesday.
June 19, 2019, 9:03 amGordon Hayward - F - Boston Celtics
Jackie MacMullan of ESPN cited Brad Stevens “force feeding” Gordon Hayward to help him come back from his gruesome ankle injury as what started the Celtics' chemistry issues that seemingly plagued the team all year long.
“You hate to pick on Gordon Hayward because he was coming back from injury and he was doing the best he could, but I really think that’s where it started," said the longtime reporter. Basketball is a game of chemistry, and the Celtics seemed to lose theirs over the course of the year. At least externally, it appeared that Boston was disintegrating and now we might have some confirmation of this rift. Hayward returned and never really looked like himself, and Stevens devoting his faith to his former Butler Bulldog was obviously misplaced. The Celtics are trying to pick up their pieces from the aftermath of a disaster offseason so far as Irving is likely gone and Al Horford is rumored to sign elsewhere once free agency begins on June 30th.
Source: NBC Sports Boston
June 19, 2019, 8:54 amTomas Satoransky - G/F - Washington Wizards
As expected, Tomas Satoransky was included in Czech Republic’s preliminary squad for the FIBA Basketball World Cup which will take place in China this summer.
The 20-man roster also includes former first round pick Jan Vesely and big man Petr Herman, who is back in Europe after playing four years of college basketball at Loyola Marymount. Czech Republic will participate in Group E against the United States, Turkey and Japan. Sato is entering free agency this summer and it’s likely that he is able to secure a deal before the start of the World Cup.
June 19, 2019, 8:33 amAl Horford - F/C - Boston Celtics
A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston, is reporting that a team to keep an eye on in the Al Horford sweepstakes is the Nets.
Horford is close to head coach Kenny Atkinson while the team has the cap space to offer him a max contract but this is simply a rumor at this point. The belief around the league is that Horford already knows there is a four-year contract worth in excess of $100 million waiting out there for him on June 30h and that’s why his negotiations with the Celtics fell apart. The sudden appearance of the Dominican center in the free agent market seems to have caught many of us off guard but it’s likely that some NBA teams have been preparing for this turn of events.
Source: A. Sherrod Blakely on Twitter
June 18, 2019, 10:44 pmKevin Love - F/C - Cleveland Cavaliers
According to Brian Windhorst, Kevin Love has been in some trade talks and the chances that he's on the Cavs next season are 50/50.
Windhorst mentioned that it's hard to find the right deal for Love, who is set to start a 4-year $120 million contract this fall, but that's a much bigger chance of him leaving than had been recently reported. The Cavs likely have some summer deals to make, but as it sits now, the fantasy values of Larry Nance Jr. and Ante Zizic would be on the rise with a Love departure.
Source: Aaron Goldhammer on Twitter
June 18, 2019, 10:01 pmBobby Portis - F - Washington Wizards
Bobby Portis, who will likely become a restricted free agent after the Wizards extend a qualifying offer, is expected to be pursued by at least 5-10 teams once free agency begins.
Among the teams that are reportedly interested in Portis are the Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, Bucks, Magic and the Knicks among others. If the Wizards extend the $3.6 million qualifying offer to Portis, they will have the chance to match any contract offer Portis receives from another team.
Source: NBC Sports
June 18, 2019, 8:55 pmKyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics
Marc Stein of The New York Times is reporting that the Nets believe they are the favorites to land Kyrie Irving in free agency.
Irving to the Nets has been on overdrive the past few weeks, and it's looking almost certain that Irving will be on the Nets, Lakers or Knicks come July 1st. D'Angelo Russell may be playing elsewhere next season if the Nets acquire Irving in free agency. Stay tuned.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
June 18, 2019, 8:20 pmRob Pelinka - Team - Los Angeles Lakers
Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Lakers are aggressively pursuing the purchase of second-round picks in Thursday’s draft.
In addition to trying to unload additional bench players, the Lakers would like to acquire a few second-round picks to round out their roster with minimum salary players. If the Lakers can get any late picks, it will give the team even more breathing room in free agency. The Lakers’ master plan after signing LeBron James last offseason is starting to shift into high gear.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
June 18, 2019, 8:13 pmAnthony Davis - F/C - Los Angeles Lakers
Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Lakers are trying to expand the Anthony Davis trade to open up a max salary slot on July 6, by offering up Mo Wagner, Jemerrio Jones and Isaac Bonga to additional teams.
The Lakers got their guy in AD, but they also want more wiggle room for another max guy and role players to fill out their roster. It seems that the team will do whatever it takes to get that third max player spot, aside from moving Kyle Kuzma. It seems very likely that another team will join in on the deal.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
June 18, 2019, 7:56 pmKyrie Irving - G - Boston Celtics
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, since the season ended, Kyrie Irving has been communicating forthrightly with Celtics' officials both privately and publicly signaling that he will leave the team in free agency.
It has been widely expected that Irving would leave the Celtics for a bit now, with the Nets being the team most analysts are pegging Irving end up with. With the news that Al Horford is going elsewhere, there is little reason to believe that Irving would stick around. We should have an official update on Irving's intentions soon enough.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
June 18, 2019, 7:35 pmAl Horford - F/C - Boston Celtics
Sources close to Al Horford have told Steve Bulpett of The Boston Herald that his camp is no longer discussing a new contract with the Celtics and he is expected to sign a 4-year deal elsewhere.
A few short months ago the Celtics were pegged as the favorites to land Anthony Davis, and forming a new big three of there own. Flash forward to now, and Davis is on the Lakers, and it looks like both Horford and Kyrie Irving are set to leave. The Celtics couldn't have foreseen a worse start to the offseason.
Source: Steve Bulpett on Twitter