September 10, 2020, 3:11 am
Welcome to Wednesday’s Daily Dish! The Raptors needed two overtimes to prolong their season against the Celtics and rekindle hopes that they can still defend their title. Meanwhile, the Clippers got off to a roaring start against the Nuggets to grab a 3-1 series lead in less dramatic fashion.
Serge Ibaka (left ankle sprain) had no minutes limit imposed and scored 13 points in 21 minutes.
Gordon Hayward (sprained right ankle) did not play on Wednesday but is attempting to work his way back and could be available should the Celtics advance past Game 7 on Friday.
DFS Strong Plays
Instead of the recommended adds and drops I provide during the regular season, here are a couple of top performers in each of four daily fantasy price tiers.
Bargain Bin Category
Zubac had his regular season value capped because of the presence of Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell. That helps to explain his 23 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues during the regular season. On Wednesday, Zu played 30 minutes compared to only 18 for Harrell. Going 4-for-9 from the floor is not that impressive when you take into account his 61 percent shooting during the season. However, he just missed a double-double with 11 points and nine boards. Four of those rebounds came on the offensive end. Zubac also blocked two shots and led all Clippers starters with a +12 rating.
Michael Porter Jr.
Porter slipped to the 14th pick of the draft in 2018 largely due to injury concerns, but the Nuggets are now profiting from their patience. Yes, Porter missed the entire 2018-19 season. He then averaged 16.4 minutes per game during his rookie campaign but played 34 minutes in Game 4. The 6’10” forward went 3-for-4 from behind the arc and scored 15 points. Porter also delivered six rebounds, a block and a steal. It was a well-rounded game for someone who was owned in only 21 percent of Yahoo leagues back in March.
Moderately Priced Category
Despite remaining out of the starting lineup, Powell played 38 minutes on Wednesday after appearing for 31 minutes in Game 5 on Monday. Game 6 was his finest performance of the series so far, as Powell scored 23 points on 6-for-11 field goal shooting. He filled the box score with two rebounds, one assist, two steals and a block. Powell hit half of his six attempts from 3-point range and ended 8-for-9 at the foul line. By contrast, the Celtics got 39 total minutes from their bench.
Theis ended up playing 47 minutes in the Celtics’ double-overtime loss, which beat his previous season high of 39 minutes versus the Rockets way back on February 29, otherwise known as Leap Day. He’s getting all the playing time he can handle without Gordon Hayward in the mix. He shot an efficient 9-for-11 from the field, and one of the misses came from 3-point range. Theis ended with 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a block. He collected five personal fouls but managed to avoid fouling out. Clearly Brad Stevens didn’t want his reserve big men getting much run, because Robert Williams led that group with a paltry eight minutes of action.
Affordable Luxury Category
Don’t blame Smart for the Celtics’ inability to close out the series on Wednesday. While this was a double overtime contest, Smart’s triple-double is still impressive: 23 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. He was 6-for-11 from long range and 7-for-15 from the floor in 50 minutes of play. Smart had one steal while only turning the ball over twice. Teammate Jayson Tatum had a big game statistically but notably committed six turnovers along the way. The whole package is enough to make you wonder how Smart went unowned in 20 percent of season-long Yahoo leagues.
The number 13 turned out to be lucky for the Raptors, as Anunoby finished a marathon win with 13 points and a career-high 13 boards in an even 50 minutes. He went 2-for-3 from downtown, bringing his streak of games with a made 3-pointer to seven. Anunoby ended 5-for-11 from the field, and thankfully his 1-for-4 line on free throws didn’t end up costing Toronto a shot at Game 7. He did chip in with a dime and a swipe, although many of Anunoby’s defensive contributions did not translate into fantasy value.
High Roller Category
At the end of the ESPN telecast, commentators noted that Jokic “got his numbers” despite the ultimate loss for the Nuggets. He scored 26 points on 11-for-23 shooting, including 2-for-7 from 3-point range. That was easily enough to lead his team, although it was a dropoff from the last two games when he converted 56 percent from the field and an excellent 54 percent of 3-point attempts. Jokic also contributed 11 boards with the second best total on the Nuggets belonging to role player Torrey Craig, who hauled in seven rebounds. Six assists and a block rounded out a solid fantasy line, but overall this game underscored how great Jokic needs to be in order to give Denver a chance to win.
When asked after the game how he found success in Game 4, Leonard said: “Just trying to help my team win…rebounding, making shots, playing good defense, making plays.” Indeed, the two-time NBA Finals MVP contributed in all those categories on Wednesday. Leonard led all scorers with 30 points, just missing out on a triple-double after hauling in 11 rebounds and dishing out nine assists. He came away with four steals, made a pair of triples and was a perfect 8-for-8 from the stripe. It’s no coincidence that the only game the Nuggets have managed to capture in the series involved Leonard shooting very poorly. That was Game 2, in which he finished an uncharacteristic 4-for-17 from the floor. In the Clippers’ three victories, Leonard has converted over 54 percent of field goal attempts.