• A lot can change in a week during the NBA playoffs. Perennial favourites can have their dreams dashed by injuries. Teams down 0-2 can return home and suddenly find their mark. With three games on the Monday night slate things had the potential to get very interesting in Charlotte, Oklahoma City and Portland. With a look at what transpired, here’s Tuesday’s daily dish.

    HORNETS 89, HEAT 85

    The Good:

    After being left for dead after two road losses in Miami, the Hornets evened up the series at 2-2 with two strong home performances in Games 3 and 4.

    Kemba Walker, the heart and soul of the Hornets team, showed up when his team needed him the most. Walker played a whopping 40 minutes and scored a game-high 34 points on 13-of-28 shooting. He added four rebounds, one assist, three steals and two blocks in a dominating performance on Monday night.

    Jeremy Lin played superbly off the bench scoring 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He added three assists and two steals and was a plus 17 while on the court in 33 minutes of action.

    Joe Johnson and Luol Deng led the Heat in Game 4 with 16 and 15 points respectively. They added 14 rebounds and four assists combined and were the lone bright spots for a Heat team that will now return home with an opponent basking with confidence.

    The Bad:

    The Hornets held an 18 point lead at one point which was cut to two midway through the third quarter. Luckily Charlotte was able to re-group and hold on to a four-point win. On the road, this scenario may not play out the same way for the Hornets.

    Hassan Whiteside was limited to 25 minutes in this one and was limited to eight points with seven rebounds and three blocks.

    Goran Dragic played an uninspiring 23 minutes of action. He scored 12 points with three rebounds, three assists but also committed five fouls. He will need to be better in Game 5 as Kemba Walker has outplayed him greatly in the last two games of this series.

    For the Hornets, Marvin Williams was once again invisible scoring zero points on 0-of-5 shooting. He did add seven rebounds with two assists, one steal and one block but if Charlotte wants to steal this series they will need Williams to pick up his production on the road.

    The Takeaway:

    The Hornets have done their best impression of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde over the first four games of this series. If the Hornets can continue their strong play in Game 5 then the Heat may be in trouble. Luckily for them, they have Dwayne Wade who is a tried and tested veteran accustomed to pressure situations. Your move Mr. Wade.

    THUNDER 118, MAVS 104

    The Good:

    The Mavs made this series a lot more interesting than most critics anticipated. The best team ultimately won here but coach Rick Carlisle had his team playing tough right up until the final minutes.

    Russell Westbrook was Russell Westbrook. He led the Thunder with 36 points on 13-of-23 shooting and barely missed out on yet another triple double. He added 12 assists, nine rebounds, one steal and three treys. Westbrook was outstanding in this series and he will need to maintain his excellent level of play in the second round when the Thunder square off against a veteran Spurs team.

    Kevin Durant played a game-high 40 minutes and scored 33 points on 11-of-23 shooting. He added seven rebounds, two assists, one block and three treys to close out his line. Durant is a special talent who will be the most coveted free agent this summer. If the Thunder are able to get past the Spurs in the second round, it could go a long way in convincing Durant to sign long term in OKC.

    For Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki once again proved that age is just a number. The veteran German played 35 minutes and scored a team-high 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting. Nowitzki added three rebounds, three trays and one block in his final game of the season.

    The Bad:

    “He’s an all-star, not a superstar”. (Mark Cuban on Russell Westbrook). Incorrect and just plain dumb.

    Serge Ibaka scored just two points on 0-of-4 shooting. He grabbed three rebounds, two steals and one block in 30 minutes of action. If OKC is going to knock out San Antonio, Ibaka will need to pick up the slack both offensively and on the defensive end.

    The Takeaway:

    Congratulations to the Thunder who outplayed the Mavs in four of their five first round games. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were unstoppable and will need to maintain their high level of play in the second round vs. the Spurs. Look for this series to go seven games with the key match-up being Durant vs. Leonard. We can’t wait!

Fantasy News

  • Derrick White
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    Derrick White has reportedly passed the first concussion test after taking a nasty fall in Team USA's tuneup game vs. the Australian Boomers on Saturday.

    This is good news. White has worked hard for his Team USA roster spot and should provide some guard depth for them once he clears concussion protocols. He was an eye-opener last season and should still hold some fantasy value despite the return of a now-healthy Dejounte Murray.

    Source: Tom Orsborn on Twitter

  • Kyle Kuzma
    PF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kyle Kuzma (sore left ankle) will not take part in the FIBA World Cup as Team USA announces its final roster.

    Kuzma sat out Team USA's final tuneup against Australia on Saturday as Marc Stein reports that he is flying back to Los Angeles to get treatment. We should still expect him to be ready for training and congrats to Mason Plumlee for making the team as many speculated that he would be the final cut.

    Source: Marc Stein on Twitter

  • Kemba Walker
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Kemba Walker scored 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting with four rebounds with two assists as USA Basketball had it's 78-game winning streak in tournament and exhibition games snapped on Saturday.

    Walker continues to assert himself as the team's best player but USA losing to Australia was the much bigger story in this one. Harrison Barnes also played well as he chipped in 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go with six rebounds. USA will take on Canada on Monday in their last exhibition before taking on the Czech Republic in the first official match of the tournament on September 1.

    Source: USAB.com

  • Derrick White
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    Derrick White left Saturday’s game after tripping and hitting his head on the floor.

    White left without help but there is no word yet on whether he is dealing with a concussion. He finished with eight points, hitting 6-of-7 three throws in nine minutes with another update sure to come. The third-year guard put up top-125 per-game value, playing 25.8 minutes in his second season. Even with the return of Dejounte Murray, White should still be worth a roster spot in most standard leagues.

    Source: Jeff Garcia on Twitter

  • Marcus Smart
    PG, Boston Celtics

    Marcus Smart, sidelined for almost three weeks with calf tightness, returned to action on Saturday as USA lost to Australia in their exhibition.

    Smart only played nine minutes in this one but still managed to score 7 points with three assists days after being named one of the team’s co-captains. Coming off an NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, he produced top-100 per game fantasy value as it seems he may have finally fixed his shot after shooting under 40 percent from the field in his first four seasons. He also produced a career-high in both steals and triples with 1.8 and 1.6 respectively as his career seems to be on the up and up.

    Source: USAB.com

  • Patty Mills
    PG, San Antonio Spurs

    Patty Mills went off in the fourth quarter and finished with 30 points as Australia beat USA 98-94.

    Although it was only an exhibition, it was still a huge moment for Mills and the Australian team in front of a huge crowd as they handed the US team their first loss since 2006. Mills was serenaded with MVP chants as Joe Ingles also played well with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting with four rebounds and seven assists while Andrew Bogut came off the bench for 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes, shooting 7-of-8 from the field.

    Source: USAB.com

  • Kyle Kuzma
    PF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kyle Kuzma is out for Team USA's tuneup up game vs. Australia with a sore left ankle.

    Kuzma is being held out of this one for precautionary reasons. There's clearly no need for USA Basketball to risk him further injuring the sore ankle. This does not sound like a serious injury and should not affect his fantasy ADP on draft day.

    Source: USA Basketball on Twitter

  • Dwight Howard
    C, Memphis Grizzlies

    Dwight Howard has agreed with the Grizzlies on a buyout, and will sign a non-guaranteed contract with the Lakers.

    The Lakers are giving Howard an opportunity to be fantasy relevant. When given minutes, Dwight can produce double-doubles with the best of them, but he has been changing teams for years now. He will be worth a gamble at the end of your draft if camp with the Lakers goes well, but this is a non-guaranteed deal, and he only played nine games last season.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Marcus Derrickson
    PF, Atlanta Hawks

    The Hawks signed Marcus Derrickson to an Exhibit 10 contract on Friday.

    It looks like Derrickson will be a G-League option for the Hawks, so there's nothing to see here. At one point he was competing for the last roster spot on the team. We don't need to keep of track of every computer-generated player.

    Source: Chris Vivlamore on Twitter

  • Marreese Speights
    C, Free Agent

    Marreese Speights will work out for the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday according to Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype.

    Speights spent last year playing in China and will attempt his NBA comeback with the Lakers. who are in desperate need of an additional center. He is among three centers the Lakers are looking into, the others being Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah. Of those three, Speights unquestionably has the best floor spacing ability, which would be his strongest bet to eke out those other two for the job.

    Source: Alex Kennedy on Twitter