• Welcome Hoop Ball readers another edition of The Week Ahead!

    As we wind down the final stretch of the NBA season, I will give my playoff predictions as if the season were to end today:

    Eastern Conference

    First Round

    (1) Bucks vs. (8) Nets – Bucks win 4-0

    (2) Raptors vs. (7) Magic – Raptors win 4-1

    (3) Celtics vs. (6) Pacers – Celtics win 4-1

    (4) Heat vs. (5) 76ers – Heat win 4-3

    Second Round

    (1) Bucks vs. (4) Heat – Bucks win 4-2

    (2) Raptors vs. (3) Celtics – Celtics win 4-3

    Conference Finals

    (1) Bucks vs. (3) Celtics – Celtics win 4-3

    Celtics win the Eastern Conference

    Western Conference

    First Round

    (1) Lakers vs. (8) Grizzlies – Lakers win 4-0

    (2) Nuggets vs. (7) Mavericks – Nuggets win 4-3

    (3) Clippers vs. (6) Thunder – Clippers win 4-1

    (4) Rockets vs. (5) Jazz – Rockets win 4-3

    Second Round

    (1) Lakers vs. (4) Rockets – Lakers win 4-2

    (2) Nuggets vs. (3) Clippers – Clippers win 4-2

    Conference Finals

    (1) Lakers vs. (3) Clippers – Lakers win 4-3

    Lakers win the Western Conference

    NBA Finals

    Celtics defeat the Lakers 4-3

    The Boston Celtics will be your 2020 NBA Champions!

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    4 games: Bucks, Bulls, Cavs, Celtics, Grizzlies, Heat, Jazz, Kings, Knicks, Magic, Mavs, Nets, Pacers, Pelicans, Rockets, Spurs, Thunder, Trail Blazers, Wizards, Wolves

    3 games: 76ers, Clippers, Hawks, Hornets, Lakers, Nuggets, Pistons, Raptors, Suns, Warriors

    Best Schedule:  Trail Blazers (at Magic, Wizards, at Suns, Kings)

    The Blazers are fighting for the eighth seed in the West with about five other teams, so any week where they don’t play a top-6 seed in either conference gives them a chance to close their gap in the race.  They are playing the Magic on the road, which is their toughest game of the week.  However, they face the Wizards, Suns and Kings to close out the week, which are three winnable games.  The Blazers should be able to escape the week with a 3-1 record, which could help them gain a game or two on the Grizzlies and Pelicans.  Start the Blazers that you typically would as they should have a tremendous offensive week.

    Worst Schedule: Warriors (at Nuggets, Raptors, 76ers)

    The Warriors are already one of the worst teams in basketball, so playing a week of all top-5 seeds or higher in their respective conferences does not help their case at all.  They are playing the second seed in the West, the Nuggets, on the road before heading home to host the second seeded Raptors and the fifth seeded 76ers.  Steph Curry’s return is on the way, but that might not be this week.  Marquese Chriss, Damion Lee and Andrew Wiggins are the safest Warriors to start this week.

    Game of the Week: Bucks at Lakers on Friday at 10:30 PM ET

    The two best teams in the NBA face off on Friday night in what could be a potential preview of the NBA Finals.  The two All-Star captains will matchup and this could have the vibes of a playoff game.  Tune in on Friday night!

    Waiver Wire Watch

    Seth Curry– Curry has been the third option on the Mavs offense this season and has been scorching hot as of late.  Over the last two weeks, he is inside the top-50 value with averages of 19.7 points and 3.7 triples per game on 57.1-percent shooting.  He has scored 37 and 27 points in each of his last two games and he shot 8-of-9 from three-point territory in the game he scored 37 points. He is a middle-round value over the last two months and should not be floating around the waiver wire in any format as we wind down the season.

    Shake Milton– While Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid are out, Shake Milton will dominate and should be owned and started in all formats. Over the last two weeks he is a top-30 value and he is a top-10 value over his last four contests.  In those four games, he is averaging 21.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 4.3 triples per game on 64.6-percent shooting.  He is also averaging 0.8 steals and 1.0 blocks per game in those contests.  As long as one of the two All-Stars is out, Milton should be owned and started in every format imaginable.

    Harry Giles– This is more of a short-term add for anyone that needs points, rebounding and field goal percentage.  Although his value will surely take a hit when Richaun Holmes returns, Giles is averaging 15.0 points and 7.3 rebounds on 58.1-percent shooting over his last four games.  He is a great DFS option while Holmes remains out and he should produce middle-round numbers as well.  Keep him off the wire in your league until then and deploy him with confidence.

    Injury Report

    Joel Embiid (shoulder) is out for at least one week with a left shoulder strain.  Ben Simmons is also out for two weeks, so this is a tough blow for a 76ers team that has been struggling as of late.  Shake Milton will get the biggest boost in value from the loss of these two All-Stars.

    Kelly Oubre Jr.  (torn meniscus) will likely miss the remainder of the season with what seems to be a torn meniscus.  He is getting a second opinion on his knee, but it seems as though the injury is a torn meniscus.  This is a tough blow as Oubre was having a career year with the Suns. Dario Saric and Cameron Johnson should see extended minutes in his absence.  We hope for a healthy recovery from Oubre.

    Jeremy Lamb (torn ACL, torn meniscus, broken bone) is out for the season after injuring his leg in a loss to the Raptors on Sunday.  His minutes will be absorbed by Victor Oladipo as his minutes continue to trend up.  We hope for a healthy recovery from Lamb.

    Brandon Clarke (right quad) is out for at least two weeks and will be reevaluated at the end of that period due to a right quad injury.  Clarke and Jaren Jackson Jr. are both out, so the role players such as Gorgui Dieng and Jordan Bell might have to step it up in their absence.

    Here are the guys currently listed as day-to-day:

    Cam Reddish, Kemba Walker, Coby White, Wendell Carter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Darius Garland, Tristan Thompson, Willie Cauley-Stein, Paul Millsap, Luke Kennard, Bruce Brown, Steph Curry, Draymond Green, Tyler Herro, Khris Middleton, Danilo Gallinari, Damian Lillard, Fred VanVleet, Serge Ibaka

    Check for updates on these guys throughout the week.

    Thanks for reading this week’s edition of The Week Ahead!

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