• 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

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    The Board of Governors has approved the NBA's 22-team format to restart the 2019-20 season.

    The vote was 29-1. It was widely expected that the format would get the go-ahead, even though more than one team didn't fully support the proposed plan, and the NBA has at least settled on what the season will look like once it's able to resume. They have also set the draft lottery for August 25 and the draft for October 15. The biggest hurdles remain anything that has to do with COVID-19, and to this point the league has yet to say anything about those challenges, but there is plenty of forward momentum these days.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Enes Kanter
    C, Boston Celtics

    Sean Deveney reported that "multiple agents say not all players are on board with an NBA return".

    One agent said, "Most of the guys are excited, fired up, they want to get back out there. Those are 95 percent of the conversations I have had". There are players that feel the money is not worth putting themselves and their families at risk. Enes Kanter weighed in on the topic, saying "there are some other team's players out there, that they don't want to play. They're like, 'It's just a game. I'm not going to risk my life". It is likely that the high-profile players will still play, but it looks like some role players may not be willing to take the risk to join their team when the NBA season resumes.

    Source: Heavy.com

  • Derrick Rose
    PG, Detroit Pistons

    The Pistons announced that they plan to reopen team facilities on Thursday, allowing voluntary individual workouts while following all the social-distancing guidelines.

    Although the Pistons' season is likely over as they are not one of the 22 teams that will continue to play if the Board of Governors vote to ratify the plan on Thursday, this will allow players to stay in shape for the 2020-21 season which is expected to start in December.

    Source: James Edwards III

  • Zion Williamson
    PF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the Pelicans, Blazers, Suns, Kings, Spurs and Wizards will be the six non-playoff teams resuming action when the NBA restarts.

    This makes complete sense, as they're the only non-playoff teams that can sniff the postseason. Woj backs up an earlier Shams Charania report about a potential play-in tournament for the final playoff spot in each Conference as well. If the ninth seed trails the eighth seed by more than four games when the league's truncated regular season wraps up, the eighth seed makes the playoffs. If the deficit is under four games, however, the two teams will compete in a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for the ninth.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that the NBA will have an eight-game regular season for the purposes of playoff seeding upon its return while Shams Charania reports that there will be a play-in tournament for the eighth seed.

    This applies to the NBA coming back with 22 teams, as the league's bottom eight are well out of playoff contention and bringing them to Orlando would only negatively affect the league's pursuit for player safety. As for the play-in tournament, Charania describes it as such: "If the ninth seed is more than four games behind the eighth seed, the eighth seed earns the playoff spot; if the ninth seed is four or fewer games behind, then the eighth and ninth seed will enter a play-in tournament that is double-elimination for the eighth seed and single-elimination for ninth." Expect another announcement about the league's format in the coming days.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Corey Brewer
    SF, Sacramento Kings

    Corey Brewer, a veteran of eight different NBA teams, is still hoping to sign another contract before he calls it a career.

    Brewer, 34, seems to think he has enough in the tank for one final stint in the NBA. “We had some talks with a few teams, but nothing really happened. My agent is still working on it, so we’ll see,” Brewer said. “I feel like I can still help a team and I feel like I have a few good years left. But you never know, man." Brewer has not suited up for an NBA team this season and, with a waning jump shot and increased age, his chances of securing another pact in the NBA are pretty unlikely.

    Source: HoopsHype

  • DeMarcus Cousins
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    Kings broadcaster Grant Napear stepped down from his position with the Kings on Tuesday after he said 'All Lives Matter..Every Single One!' when asked about his thoughts on the Black Lives Matter movement during a Twitter interaction with former Kings center DeMarcus Cousins.

    This is the first domino to fall in American professional sports in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement, even if it's a relatively insignificant one. Napear said of himself and the interaction, "I’m not as educated on BLM as I thought I was. I had no idea that when I said 'All Lives Matter' that it was counter to what BLM was trying to get across," he said. "I’m in pain. I’m 60 years old and I still have a lot to learn." The Kings will evidently have to find a new play-by-play man for their radio broadcasts to accompany Doug Christie when games resume.

    Source: TMZ

  • John Wall
    PG, Washington Wizards

    John Wall, who has long been rumored to have absolutely zero chance of returning to the court even if the current season is resumed, said in a conference call last week that he feels "110 percent."

    Wall and the Wizards both maintain that he will not return to action this season, regardless of the outcome of the vote on Thursday by the NBA Board of Governors. This is good news, obviously, for the team as they set their sights on next season. As of late, trade rumors have been swirling around the franchise's two top assets: Wall and All Star guard Bradley Beal. Moving forward, there is a high possibility that the Wizards will decide between the two, as Beal's contract will expire after next season. Which player will the Wizards keep? Who will they trade, or will they trade them both? They are hoping to have some time to evaluate how the pair plays in tandem early next season, as Wall has missed significant time with a torn left Achilles he suffered during the 2018-19 season. But it may be too late to negotiate an extension with Beal at that point, so they will have to play their cards with extreme care.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Bradley Beal
    SG, Washington Wizards

    Wes Unseld, a Hall of Famer and Washington Bullets legend, passed away on Tuesday due to complications with pneumonia and other illnesses. He was 74 years old.

    An outstanding rebounder, Unseld is also one of only two players to ever be awarded Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season in 1968-69. He guided the Bullets to the NBA Finals four times, winning once in 1978, a series where Unseld took home MVP honors. Hornets' GM and former teammate Mitch Kupchak said of Unseld, “As a teammate, he was tough, dependable and competitive to no end.” Unseld was a fearless competitor and highly respected across the league during his 13 seasons with the Bullets franchise. Former Knicks center and fellow Hall of Famer Willis Reed recently recalled their battles against one another, "He was most consciously a rebounder — he could shoot, but he didn’t emphasize that part of his game — and felt that if he did his job right, by getting the defensive rebound and making the quick outlet pass, they would score quickly.” Unseld was undoubtedly a pioneer for the game of basketball and means a great deal to the city of Washington D.C.

    Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter

  • LeBron James
    SF, Los Angeles Lakers

    ESPN's Adrian Wojanrowski is reporting that Adam Silver and the NBA Board of Governors, who are planning to vote Thursday on how to continue the season, would like the NBA Finals to conclude no later than October 12.

    With July 31 being the widely-reported restart date and the league tentatively planning to start 𝘯𝘦𝘹𝘵 season by Christmas Day of this year, it would make sense to crown a league champion as early as possible. The meeting with the NBA Board of Governors on Thursday will (finally) bring some clarity to the rest of the NBA season, as they will hold a vote to decide how to proceed. NBA fans have been waiting since the middle of March for some resolutions. This week will provide them.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter