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

    The second round of the playoffs has delivered as much entertainment as could have been expected.  We have seen everything from star injuries to quadruple-overtime games to Shaqtin’ a Fool-esque plays.

    James Harden was poked in the eye by Draymond Green, which led to his vision being blurred for the majority of Game 2. His eye still has not healed, but Harden has made it clear that he will not sit out and followed up that promise with a Game 3 win.

    The Blazers and Nuggets went to quadruple-overtime in Game 3 and the Blazers pulled out the win on a Rodney Hood 3-pointer. That was the first game to go to four overtimes since 1953, which shows how competitive the playoffs are this season. Although my predictions are not looking too good for any of the series aside from the Warriors-Rockets matchup, I will stand by my predictions for now.

    The Shaqtin’ a Fool-esque play that I am referring to is Steph Curry missing a wide open dunk in Game 3 against the Rockets. Curry had a mediocre game overall and disappeared in the clutch, so this play just put an exclamation point on what was one of the worst clutch performances of his career. The overall entertainment from this round has been outstanding, which is great to see considering the Warriors are likely to win their 4th title in five years despite the increased competition.

    The Bucks and Celtics series has been sorely missing Malcolm Brogdon (foot) and Marcus Smart (oblique), but both of them are nearing a return and that should hopefully boost the competitiveness of the series.

    This round will also have a lot of impact on where free agents such as Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson end up playing next season.

    If the Celtics end up beating the Bucks and possibly make it to the NBA finals, I believe Irving will stay put with the Celtics. However, I think he will leave if they lose easily to the Bucks.

    The same can be applied to Middleton and Lopez if they lose to the Celtics, or Harris and Butler if they lose to the Raptors. The bottom line is that the playoffs are a lot more than just seeing which team will win the NBA championship as there are many things involved that could potentially impact the future of the NBA.

    Now here is an overview of the week ahead:

    Weekly Schedule Breakdown

    Monday, May 6th– Bucks at Celtics at 7 PM ET (Game 4); Warriors at Rockets at 9:30 PM ET (Game 4)

    Tuesday, May 7th– 76ers at Raptors at 8 PM ET (Game 5); Blazers at Nuggets at 10:30 PM ET (Game 4)

    Wednesday, May 8th– Celtics at Bucks at 8 PM ET (Game 5); Rockets at Warriors at 10:30 PM ET (Game 5)

    Thursday, May 9th– Raptors at 76ers 8 PM ET (Game 6); Nuggets at Blazers 10:30 PM ET (Game 6)

    Friday, May 10th–  Bucks at Celtics TBD (Game 6); Warriors at Rockets TBD (Game 6)*

    Saturday, May 11th– NO GAMES

    Sunday, May 12th–  76ers at Raptors TBD (Game 7)*; Rockets at Warriors TBD (Game 7)*; Blazers at Nuggets TBD (Game 7)*

    Injury Report

    Marcus Smart (oblique) is a game-time decision for Game 4 on Monday night, which will be his first playoff game if he is able to suit up.  The Celtics have definitely missed his toughness and defense, so his return should bring nothing but good things for them.  

    Malcolm Brogdon (foot) is out for Game 4 on Monday night. He has not played for the entirety of the playoffs and he is a key component of the Bucks’ system, so expect them to play even better upon his return.

    Day-to-day: Danuel House Jr. (foot) and Pau Gasol (ankle)

    Thanks HoopBallers, for reading another edition of The Week Ahead!

Fantasy News

  • Jamaal Franklin - G - Sacramento Kings

    Former NBA guard Jamaal Franklin will be attending a free agent mini camp with the Kings next week.

    Franklin is considering making the move to Europe after five seasons in China and his agent has been already shopping him to EuroLeague teams for next season but he will try to impress NBA teams first. He has played a total of 24 games in the NBA with the Grizzlies and the Nuggets while he finished the season in the CBA averaging 32.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 2.4 steals and 1.8 blocks.

    Source: Nicola Lupo on Twitter

  • Damian 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.

  • CJ 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.

  • Meyers 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.

  • Al-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.

  • Stephen 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.

  • Draymond 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.

  • Jordan 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.

  • Klay 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.

  • Alfonzo 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.