May 13, 2019, 12:00 pm
Welcome, Hoop Ball readers, to another edition of The Week Ahead!
The Conference Finals are upon us! The second round brought a great deal of excitement, and I stand by my belief that the Semifinals will be the most exciting round of this postseason. The Bucks and Celtics series was the only non-exciting series, but there was a ton of drama attached due to Kyrie Irving. However, I will get into the Celtics when I write their post-mortem. For now, I will go over the other three series and how they played out.
The Raptors and 76ers went seven, with the Raptors winning Game 7. Kawhi Leonard actually ended the series on a buzzer-beater in the corner that bounced on the rim multiple times. This was one of the best Semifinals series that I have ever seen, which already validates my opinion on the round.
The Warriors and Rockets only went six games, but it was almost as exciting as the 76ers-Raptors series and as drama filled as the Bucks-Celtics series. The drama attached to the series was due to injuries, since DeMarcus Cousins was not playing and Kevin Durant went down during Game 5. Steph Curry was having a sub-par series prior to Durant’s injury, but stepped up almost immediately after he went down. He led the Warriors to a series win over the Rockets and their fifth straight appearance in the Western Conference Finals.
The last series is the Nuggets-Blazers series, which I had predicted to be the least entertaining. However, I was proven wrong as this series went seven games and a majority of the games were very close and full of toughness. CJ McCollum was most definitely the MVP of this series as he averaged 26.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.6 threes in 42 minutes per game in the seven games played. He scored 37 points in Game 7 and had a signature moment when he blocked Jamal Murray late in the fourth quarter. The Semifinals were definitely as intense and exciting as I had hoped they would be.
Here are my predictions for the Conference Finals:
Warriors over Blazers 4-2 (If the Blazers are lucky enough to push it to six games)
Raptors over Bucks 4-3 (This series is a toss up)
Finals Matchup Prediction: Warriors vs Raptors
Now here is an overview of the week ahead:
Weekly Schedule Breakdown
Monday, May 13th– NO GAMES
Tuesday, May 14th– Blazers at Warriors at 9:00 PM ET GAME 1
Wednesday, May 15th– Raptors at Bucks at 8:30 PM ET GAME 1
Thursday, May 16th– Blazers at Warriors at 9:00 PM ET GAME 2
Friday, May 17th– Raptors at Bucks at 8:30 PM ET GAME 2
Saturday, May 18th– Warriors at Blazers at 9:00 PM ET GAME 3
Sunday, May 19th– Bucks at Raptors at 7:00 PM ET GAME 3
DeMarcus Cousins (quad) could actually going to be on the active roster for the Western Conference Finals. Yes, you read that correct. Boogie Cousins may be able to return during the Western Conference Finals after many thought that he was definitely out for the entire postseason. If he does and plays well, he could earn some of that potential money back that quite a few executives claimed he lost once he got injured. Look for updates on Cousins’ status prior to Game 1.
Kevin Durant (calf strain) has yet to be re-evaluated, so there is no timetable for his return. However, it is hard to believe that he will sit out for too long and should return to action sometime during this series. Check for updates on Durant throughout the week.
Pau Gasol (foot) underwent surgery on his left foot on Thursday and will miss the remainder of the playoffs. Gasol has missed a majority of his games with the Bucks and has not played in the entire postseason, so this does not come as a surprise.
Rodney Hood (knee) left Game 7 against the Nuggets after hyperextending his left knee. The Blazers won, so we will hear updates very soon on if Hood will be available for Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.
Thanks Hoopballers for reading another edition of The Week Ahead!
October 20, 2019, 5:17 pmVlatko CancarSF, Denver Nuggets
Vlatko Cancar (ankle) hurt his ankle during Sunday's practice.
The ankle injury may put his availability in question for opening night. An update should be coming out with more information regarding the injury, but Cancar should not be on any draft boards regardless.
Source: Harrison Wind on Twitter
October 20, 2019, 5:13 pmRodney McGruderSG, Los Angeles Clippers
Rodney McGruder (high ankle sprain) is questionable to play in Tuesday's opening game versus the Lakers.
McGruder is noted to be progressing well, but high ankle sprains tend to be tricky and if re-injured could shelf a player for several weeks. If McGruder is healthy enough to suit up he figures absorb some of Paul George's would-be minutes.
Source: Tomer Azarly on Twitter
October 20, 2019, 5:09 pmAlen SmailagicPF, Golden State Warriors
Alen Smailagic (right ankle sprain) has a chance to play in Thursday's season opener.
Smailagic was expected to miss a decent amount of time, so him not being ruled out is somewhat shocking. There is no reason to look at Smailagic in any drafts, but him missing time could funnel more minutes to Jordan Poole.
Source: Logan Murdock on Twitter
October 20, 2019, 5:05 pmWillie Cauley-SteinC, Golden State Warriors
Willie Cauley-Stein (left foot strain) will not play in Thursday's season opener.
WCS has been cleared fr non-contact drills, but with Kevon Looney looking health it makes the call easier to take the cautious approach. WCS will be looking like Looney's primary backup.
Source: Logan Murdock on Twitter
October 20, 2019, 5:01 pmDennis Smith Jr.PG, New York Knicks
The Knicks will not announce their starting point guard until Wednesday.
Death, taxes and Knicks head coach David Fizdale doing Fizdale-like stuff. The battle has been between Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr., while Frank Ntilikina sits in the background. It appears that after a few more days of practice Fizdale will have the sample size he needs to make confirm his starter, but for now they both remain as late-round fliers.
Source: Marc Berman on Twitter
October 20, 2019, 4:44 pmKyle KuzmaPF, Los Angeles Lakers
Kyle Kuzma (left foot stress reaction) has been ruled out of Tuesday's season opener.
This isn't a shocker considering Kuzma has yet to be cleared for contact. He is still participating in non-contact half-court drills, but has no firm timetable to return.
Source: Bill Oram on Twitter
October 20, 2019, 4:38 pmKevon LooneyPF-C, Golden State Warriors
Kevon Looney (right hamstring strain) will play in Thursday's game and possibly open as the starting center.
Looney practiced on Sunday and looked good to go. Looney is the favorite to start, it just seems like his health will determine whether or not he does. Looney offers late-round appeal in standard leagues and remains a sleeper on most boards.
Source: Monte Pool on Twitter
October 20, 2019, 4:35 pmIsaiah TaylorPG, Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have waived Isaiah Taylor.
Taylor signed to a partially guaranteed deal back in September, but did not stand out did training camps. He had a stint with the Hawks back during the 2017-18 season and will likely get picked up by another team and relegated to the G-League.
Source: Josh Lewenberg on Twitter
October 20, 2019, 4:30 pmPaul GeorgeSF, Los Angeles Clippers
Paul George (right rotator cuff and left labrum tear) does not have a timetable in which he could participate in full-contact drills.
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers said the team is expecting to be without George with at least the first 10 games, which would put his return to mid-November. Moe Harkless looks like the most likely candidate to fill in for George during his absence.
Source: Mark Medina on Twitter
October 20, 2019, 4:18 pmJalen McDanielsPF, Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets have converted Jalen McDaniels to a multi-year contract.
McDaniels was playing on a two-way contract before being signed longterm. This will open up another possible two-way contract for the Hornets.
Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter