June 10, 2019, 2:37 am
Welcome, Hoop Ball readers, to another edition of The Week Ahead!
The NBA Finals has not gone as expected as the dynasty of the Golden State Warriors is about to be torn down by the Toronto Raptors. Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors are up 3-1 in the series as the Warriors have been battling significant injuries all series long.
Steph Curry scored 47 points in Game 3 and still lost due to the lack of help on the roster that night. That performance was reminiscent of LeBron James in the 2015 NBA Finals, which did not leave many people feeling bad for Curry at all. James did not have Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and Curry did not have Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant for Game 3.
The Raptors have been fully healthy — in terms of absences — and on top of their game each and every night aside from the third quarter of Game 2. The Raptors will look to close the series out at home on Monday night as the Warriors could still be without Durant.
Leonard has easily been the Finals MVP so far, which has sparked a debate about whether or not he is a top-3 player in the NBA. Doc Rivers said that Leonard is the closest thing that we have seen to Michael Jordan, which does not seem too far-fetched considering that he is the only player since Jordan to score 35-plus points with zero turnovers on the road in an NBA Finals game. Kobe Bryant is definitely the closest player that we have seen to Jordan in my opinion, but it is not outrageous to put Kawhi Leonard in that conversation if he can dethrone his second dynasty.
He tore down the Miami Heat dynasty when he beat them with the Spurs and won Finals MVP and now he is on the cusp of doing the same to the Warriors. Leonard will be a hero in Canada if he brings them a title and will likely return for next season as well, which immediately keeps the Raptors in the title conversation for next season. Leonard is definitely a top-3 player in terms of impact on the court, which is a great indicator of individual and team success.
Between his professional demeanor and complete skill set, Kawhi is a player that every team should want as he is bred to take down dynasties and win championships. Tune in to the last games of the NBA Finals to see if the Raptors are able to close out the series and bring Toronto their first NBA title.
The Warriors dynasty as we know it may finally be over.
Now here is an overview of the week ahead:
Weekly Schedule Breakdown
Monday, June 10th– Warriors at Raptors at 9 PM ET (GAME 5)
Thursday, June 13th– Raptors at Warriors at 9 PM ET (GAME 6)*
Sunday, June 16th– Warriors at Raptors at 8 PM ET (GAME 7)*
* = if necessary
Kevin Durant (calf) was struggling during the Warriors’ practice after Game 4 and there is growing belief that he will be unable to suit up for Game 5. He is not ready and if he comes back, he will definitely not be at 100 percent. It has been noted that he will be a game-time decision heading into Game 5. Check for his status prior to Monday’s game.
Thanks Hoopballers for reading another edition of The Week Ahead!
December 8, 2019, 7:41 pmTerry RozierPG, Charlotte Hornets
Terry Rozier had an ugly showing against the Hawks on Sunday, reaching eight points on 3-of-13 shooting, with five rebounds, four assists, one steal, two 3-pointers and four turnovers.
Rozier's shot did not drop on Sunday and the four turnovers made the bad outshine the good in this stat line. These kinds of showings have thankfully not been the norm for Rozier as a Hornet, although it was the fear coming into the season.
December 8, 2019, 7:03 pmFred VanVleetPG, Toronto Raptors
Fred VanVleet (right knee contusion) will not return to Sunday's game versus the Sixers.
VanVleet left Sunday;s game during the second quarter and was followed by training staff. The injury is being called a contusion, so it doesn't sound too serious, but the Raptors will let VanVleet have the rest of the night off. Norman Powell would be the biggest beneficiary if VanVleet is forced to miss any time.
Source: Josh Lewenberg on Twitter
December 8, 2019, 6:48 pmDerrick FavorsPF, New Orleans Pelicans
Derrick Favors (personal) is questionable for Monday's game versus the Pistons.
Favors has been away from the team ever since the death of his mother and the team is not rushing him back until he is ready to return. Jaxson Hayes will continue to benefit if Favors needs another night off.
Source: Pelicans PR on Twitter
December 8, 2019, 6:42 pmCory JosephPG, Sacramento Kings
Cory Joseph will start during Sunday's game versus the Mavs.
Joseph was questionable heading into Friday's game and played as well. Joseph is only worth owning if you are in need of assists.
Source: Mike Peasley on Twitter
December 8, 2019, 6:15 pmTyson ChandlerC, Houston Rockets
Tyson Chandler (illness) is being listed as doubtful for Monday's game versus the Kings
Chandler was a late scratch for Saturday's game and it looks like the veteran will need another games rest. Isaiah Hartenstein will see the bulk of the back up center minutes if Chandler were to rest.
Source: NBA Injury Report
December 8, 2019, 5:54 pmJerami GrantSF, Denver Nuggets
Jerami Grant was hot from deep going 5-of-7 from behind the arc to go along with 15 points and two rebounds.
Grant was dialed in from deep and took seven of his eight shot attempts from there, He's been playing much better as of late, but Paul Millsap will continue to be a roadblock in his way.
December 8, 2019, 5:50 pmMarvin Bagley IIIPF, Sacramento Kings
Marvin Bagley (right thumb fracture) has been ruled out of Sunday's game versus the Mavs.
Bagley has been questionable for the last few games and seems to be in line to return at some point this week. The frontcourt will be a bit off a mess upon his return, but don't rush to drop anyone until the situation pans out. Nemanja Bjelica will contiue to start while Bagley is out.
Source: James Ham on Twitter
December 8, 2019, 5:48 pmJamal MurrayPG, Denver Nuggets
Jamal Murray scored 21 points, five assists and three rebounds on 7-of-17 shooting during Sunday's loss to the Nets.
Murray also managed to chip in with three treys and went 4-of-4 from the charity stripe. Murray has been playing well as of late and will look to keep the ball rolling against the Sixers on Tuesday.
December 8, 2019, 5:39 pmNikola JokicC, Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic lead the Nuggets in scoring with 24 points, while chipping in 11 rebounds and six assists on 10-of-21 shooting during Sunday's loss to the Nets.
Jokic has now put together two straight solid performances and is showing signs of busting out of his slump. Look for him to continue his strong play on Tuesday versus Joel Embiid and the Sixers.
December 8, 2019, 5:35 pmGarrett TempleSG, Brooklyn Nets
Garrett Temple continued his recent strong play going for 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists in Sunday's win over the Nuggets.
Temple has been a worthwhile streamer with Irving out and it doesn't look like the he will be back for at least a few more weeks. His field goal percentage won't be the best, but he provides moderate value in 3-pointers and and points.