• 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

  • Vlatko Cancar
    SF, 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

  • Rodney McGruder
    SG, 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

  • Alen Smailagic
    PF, 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

  • Willie Cauley-Stein
    C, 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

  • Dennis 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

  • Kyle Kuzma
    PF, 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

  • Kevon Looney
    PF-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

  • Isaiah Taylor
    PG, 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

  • Paul George
    SF, 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

  • Jalen McDaniels
    PF, 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