April 18, 2018, 1:34 am
The NBA Playoffs are in full gear and as long as your team isn’t facing the Rockets or Warriors, there is a chance. At least, it looked that way entering Tuesday night. The home teams in the East ruled all, giving us some indication about how the series’ will go. The Blazers are in an even worse situation. More on that below.
Let’s take a look at where things stand with each series played on Tuesday night:
RAPTORS TAKE 2-0 LEAD BEHIND DEROZAN’S 37 POINTS
If there was any doubt as to the legitimacy of the Raptors as the 1-seed in the East, it has since been dashed. With the Cavs struggling against the Pacers over the weekend, the Raptors are making quick work out of the Wizards, defeating them 130-119 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series on Tuesday.
DeMar DeRozan led the way, shooting 14-for-23 from the field for 37 points, five boards, four assists and three 3-pointers in 37 minutes. DeRozan scored 13 of his 37 points in the first quarter, where the Raptors scored a franchise-high 44 points. The Wizards couldn’t slow him down all night.
Kyle Lowry shot 3-for-10 from the field and 6-for-7 from the line for 13 points with seven boards, 12 assists, one steal and one 3-pointer in 36 minutes. Lowry was just 1-for-8 from beyond the arc, so he really struggled to shoot the ball all night. That didn’t matter, as the Raptors got out to an early 17-point lead to end the first quarter, and it was cruise control the rest of the way.
Jonas Valanciunas shot 8-for-11 from the field for 19 points, 14 boards, one assist, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 23 minutes on Tuesday. The big man has turned things around the second half of the season, and it’s certainly carrying into the playoffs. He didn’t need many minutes tonight to put up a nice double-double, sitting in the post and shooting a high percentage. Expect him to destroy Gortat and Mahinmi the rest of the series.
As for the Wizards, John Wall shot 9-for-17 from the floor and a perfect 11-for-11 from the line for 29 points with four boards, nine assists and one block in 32 minutes despite a Game 2 loss on Tuesday. Wall was terrific on both ends of the floor, holding Lowry to just 13 points, but it wasn’t enough to steal a round win in Toronto. The Wizards are running into a hot opponent poised to prove worthy of the top seed, so this series could be over quick unless Wall and co. can fix things fast.
The problem was Bradley Beal, who was flat out useless on Tuesday. Bradley Beal shot 3-for-11 from the floor for nine points, two rebounds, three assists and one 3-pointer in 25 minutes. This certainly isn’t the postseason Beal we’ve come accustomed to seeing. He was off all night, living in DeRozan’s shadow. The Wizards desperately need the real deal Beal to show up if they want a chance at avoiding a sweep.
The Wizards go home for Game 3 on Friday.
PELS WIN ON ROAD AGAIN FOR 2-0 LEAD ON BLAZERS
For weeks on end, there was much talk about how close the 3-seed out West and the 8-seed were extremely close. That is starting to ring more true by the day, as the 3-seed Blazers are seriously in a deep hole against the 6-seed Pels, in just two games.
That’s right, the Pelicans won another road game 111-102 on Tuesday night, taking a 2-0 series lead and heading back to Bourbon street for the next two games. The Blazers will now have to win four of five with three of those being on the road, which won’t be an easy task against the Brow.
Jrue Holiday continued his insane play, shooting 14-for-24 from the field for 33 points, three boards, nine assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 38 minutes. He has been a top-20 player since DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) went down before the all-star break.
Anthony Davis was terrific as usual, scoring 22 points with 13 boards, one assist, two steals, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 40 minutes. The Brow is poised to lead a deeper playoff run. If he slips through, it’s the wounded Warriors next. Stay tuned.
Damian Lillard was not on his best behavior, shooting 7-for-18 from the field for 17 points, three boards, four assists, one steal and one 3-pointer in 40 minutes. Jrue’s defense is an early story for this series.
C.J. McCollum wasn’t much better. He shot abysmal 9-for-21 from the field for 22 points with three boards, six assists, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers in 39 minutes. The Blazers shot 45.1% as a team, and McCollum didn’t help the cause.
Game 3 is Thursday in New Orleans.
CELTICS TAKE IT TO THE BUCKS AGAIN FOR 2-0 LEAD
Sure, the Bucks have the better star power and talent. That can only take you so far. If you have caught a glimpse of this series, you will know that the Celtics flat out want it more. They are dominating the boards on both ends of the floor, getting the 50/50 balls and playing with an attitude that has been unmatched by the Bucks since the first tip. Tuesday was no different, as the Celtics dominated the Bucks 120-106 to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Jaylen Brown shot 12-for-22 from the field for 30 points with five boards, one assist and five 3-pointers in 33 minutes to lead the Celtics. Brown became the youngest Celtics player to drop 30 or more points in a playoff game, which is elite company to say the least. It felt like him and his teammates couldn’t miss, as he hit several contested shots and played with swagger.
Terry Rozier joined in on the fun too, once again. Rozier shot 8-for-14 from the field for 23 points with three boards, eight assists, one block, one steal and three 3-pointers in 38 minutes. He put up an eerily similar line to what he did in Game 1, proving it wasn’t just a fluke. Rozier is playing with all of the confidence in the world, which can be dangerous when he’s hot. He has played with an attitude on both ends of the floor, which is something that has caught the Bucks off guard.
Al Horford shot 7-for-11 from the field for 16 points, five boards, four assists, two steals and one 3-pointer in 35 minutes. Horford was gritty yet again, playing like a leader of the younger Celtics and setting the tone. He dared to dribble the ball up against Antetokounmpo, in which the Bucks did nothing about. He was efficient all night and hit tough contested shots, something that can’t happen all series.
As for the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton showed up, but that was pretty much it.
Giannis Antetokounmpo shot 13-for-17 from the field and 4-for-9 from the line for 30 points with nine boards, eight assists, one steal and one block in 43 minutes. The team is a liability when he’s off the floor.
Khris Middleton shot 10-for-14 from the field for 25 points with four boards, one assist and four 3-pointers in 37 minutes. Middleton uncharacteristically couldn’t get it going on defense, allowing Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown to hit shots all night. He has the grit to hang with the Celtics, but the rest of his teammates have yet to show they belong too.
Jabari Parker posted a -15 plus/minus in just 10 minutes on the floor, finishing with just two rebounds and one turnover for the game. He is a detriment to the Bucks when he is on the court, not a team player and probably won’t be in any future plans for the Bucks. This won’t end well.
If the Bucks want a chance to climb back into the series, they have to defend home court. They travel home to Milwaukee for Game 3 on Friday.
June 26, 2019, 10:02 amKawhi Leonard - SF - Toronto Raptors
Marc Stein of the New York Times is reporting that Kawhi Leonard is strongly considering signing a two-year, $70 million deal to remain with the world champion Raptors.
Leonard is being courted by nearly every team in a major market after his championship run with the Raptors, and he is expected to meet with the Clippers next week. It has been suggested that signing a two-year deal with a player option in the third year would hold appeal for Leonard, since he would then be eligible for a higher maximum contract in the summer of 2021, after completing his 10th season. Kawhi averaged 26.6 points and 7.3 rebounds in 60 regular-season games with the Raptors and he should maintain the same value regardless of where he lands.
Source: Marc Stein
June 26, 2019, 9:53 amKlay Thompson - SG - Golden State Warriors
All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson would be open to a meeting with the Clippers should the Warriors not offer him a max-level contract, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.
Thompson is an unrestricted free agent this offseason and will undergo surgery later this week while Warriors general manager Bob Myers said it’s unclear when he will return. Thompson’s father, Mychal Thompson, told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this month that there’s “no question” Klay will re-sign with the Warriors. The 29-year old shooting guard averaged 21.5 points and 3.5 rebounds during the regular season and along with Steph Curry and Draymond Green, has been an integral part of the Warriors’ core that has reached the Finals five straight times.
June 26, 2019, 9:35 amDeMarcus Cousins - C - Golden State Warriors
Free agent center DeMarcus Cousins is among the players on the Knicks’ radar, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated.
Cousins, 28, is coming off a one-year stint with the Warriors, where he averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 rebounds, but he was limited to just 30 regular-season games. New York is still holding out hope for Kevin Durant but if he doesn’t come to the Big Apple, the Knicks clearly have others on their radar as sort of contingency plans and Boogie is one of them. Spears also reported that the Knicks have their eyes on Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris and DeAndre Jordan.
Source: Marc J. Spears
June 26, 2019, 7:55 amKevin Durant - SF - Golden State Warriors
Appearing on ESPN last night, Adrian Wojnarowski said that the Nets plan to offer Kevin Durant, a four-year max contract.
Brooklyn is in a great position to offer Kyrie Irving a max contract and then use that to pursue KD or perhaps another free agent. Zach Lowe added that the idea of Kyrie as a solo doesn’t appear to be the plan but the Nets would ultimately take on Irving as a solo act, although there would probably be a divide within the organization. KD is expected to miss the majority of the next season but it looks like teams won’t have any second thoughts offering him the max.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski
June 25, 2019, 8:11 pmBobby Portis - PF - Washington Wizards
Tony Jones and Fred Katz of The Athletic are reporting Bobby Portis is looking for as much as $16 million in free agency and has interest from multiple teams.
According to Jones and Katz, the Wizards aren't expected to match a huge offer sheet on Portis. As a restricted free agent, the Wiz declining to match would allow him to go elsewhere. The Utah Jazz have been a team at the top of the list on the rumor mill. Portis averaged 14.3 points and 8.6 rebounds in 28 games for the Wiz last season.
Source: Tony Jones on Twitter
June 25, 2019, 6:55 pmNikola Vucevic - C - Orlando Magic
Per Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News, the Mavs like how Nikola Vucevic fits alongside Kristaps Porzingis, but his expected salary would cost too much for the Mavs to sign.
The Mavs will enter free agency with a ton of cap space, but after the expected max contract that they'll extend to Porzingis, they may be more inclined to spread the wealth around or target Kemba Walker than committing a max contract to Vucevic. Vucevic had a career year as an All-Star for the Magic this past season, but his next destination remains a crapshoot.
Source: Dallas News
June 25, 2019, 6:38 pmJimmy Butler - SG - Philadelphia Sixers
Per Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Rockets' ideal plan in free agency is to get Jimmy Butler by a sign-and-trade deal with the Sixers.
Butler is going to be a sought after commodity once free agency opens as the Sixers, Lakers, and others are also going to be looking to ink him to a long-term deal. Butler regained his level back to max contract level after his play during the playoffs this season. The Rockets don't have any cap space to sign Butler outright, so they'll have to get a commitment from him to take a pay cut, while also getting the Sixers to agree to help facilitate a deal. This is going to be interesting.
June 25, 2019, 5:08 pmKhem Birch - C - Orlando Magic
The Magic have extended qualifying offers to C Khem Birch and F Amile Jefferson, rendering both restricted free agents ahead of free agency which is set to begin on June 30th.
Birch, who averaged 4.8 points and 3.8 rebounds in just 12.9 minutes per game this past season, is seemingly a priority for the Magic to bring back, and now they'll get the opportunity to match any contracts he may fetch from other teams. Jefferson was in the G-League for the majority of the season, where he was very productive. Both may take on larger roles, should they stay with the Magic, as star C Nikola Vucevic is an unrestricted free agent.
Source: Magic PR on Twitter
June 25, 2019, 4:58 pmJR Smith - SG - Cleveland Cavaliers
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, the Lakers could eventually take a look at signing J.R. Smith should he be released by the Cavs, or traded and bought out by another team.
Smith is likely to become a free agent one way or the other by the end of the month, and the Lakers will be looking at cheap floor-spacers to fill out their roster. Smith and LeBron James are familiar with one another after winning a championship together with the Cavs, and it looks like Smith to the Lakers is a real possibility.
Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter
June 25, 2019, 4:00 pmKristaps Porzingis - PF - Dallas Mavericks
Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting that the Mavs will meet with restricted free agent Kristaps Porzingis (torn ACL) once free agency opens on June 30th, and the team will offer him the full five-year, $158 million max contract.
This was expected ever since the Mavs traded for Porzingis mid-season while he recovered from his knee injury. Porzingis is fully expected to sign with the Mavs and become reigning ROY Luka Doncic's running mate for the foreseeable future.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter