April 25, 2018, 1:21 am
It’s never fun to see teams get sent home, but Tuesday night was our final flavor of the Heat and Spurs, two teams who could have a very different look next fall. Time will tell. More on that below.
It was a great night for Sixers and Warriors fans, who get to rest until at least the weekend and heal up their veterans for the Conference Semis.
Let’s check out how it all went down on a big night for eliminations.
FIRE EXTINGUISHER: REDICK BLOWS HEAT AWAY
The Sixers led 3-1 in the best-of-seven series going into Tuesday night and pledged to get it done on the road. They did that and more, eliminating the Heat in a 104-91 win to move on to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals for the first time since 2012.
J.J. Redick led the way, shooting 6-for-13 from the field (5-for-10 from 3-point land) for a game-high 27 points with two assists in 32 minutes. He was terrific in Game 4 and 5, averaging 25.5 points between the two wins.
Of course, they couldn’t have done it without the masked man. Joel Embiid shot 8-for-14 from the field for 19 points with 12 boards, one assist, two steals and one block in 29 minutes. He was a huge difference maker in Round 1 and the NBA took notice. As long as he is healthy, he will be a force for a long time.
Ben Simmons shot 4-for-10 from the field for 14 points with 10 boards, six assists, two steals and one block in 35 minutes. He is growing up before our very eyes. Simmons has stepped up in a huge way this season, becoming a key contributor on what looks to be a sure-fire contender in the East. This team seems to get better every game, and Tuesday was a great learning experience. The Sixers await the winner of the Bucks and Celtics and should be favorites to reach the Eastern Conference Finals.
On the losing end, the Heat face an offseason filled with questions surrounding Hassan Whiteside. He spoke with reporters after the game in the locker room. “At least give me a chance to fight,” said Whiteside. “I can understand if I was playing 30 minutes and I played bad. At least give me a chance.”
In Game 5, Whiteside shot 0-for-4 from the field for just two points with five boards and one block in 10 minutes. Whiteside has clearly been in the doghouse for months now and has spoken out to the media on multiple occasions. With the season now over for the Heat, it will be interesting to see his feelings and personality continue to spew out. There is no doubt that he wants out in Miami, but with a contract the size of Texas, that will be easier said than done.
Josh Richardson (shoulder) was active and started the game, but he only played seven minutes (0-for-1 FGs, one block). Plagued by injuries in the 2016-17 season, he was an underrated commodity in fantasy drafts this season. He blew past his mid-round ADP for a top-33 finish, playing like a second-rounder after the all-star break. Richardson gets it done all over the boxscore and should be a fine top-35 pick in redraft leagues next season.
On a brighter note, Kelly Olynyk stuffed the stat sheet for 18 points, eight boards, seven assists, three steals one block and one 3-pointer in 37 minutes on Tuesday. He would have had a bigger night if he didn’t go 1-for-7 from 3-point land. The big man was money once Whiteside fell to the curb, constantly producing well-rounded lines for a late-round fantasy pick. He could be a forgotten man in drafts again next season, but with opportunity, he is always worth a dice roll.
KLAY AND DRAY SEND SPURS PACKING
In what has been an emotional series for the Spurs organization, they simply couldn’t overcome the defending champs, losing 99-91 in Game 5 on Tuesday night. The big three showed up for the Warriors, something that will be increasingly necessary in the next round if they want to survive as long as Steph Curry (ankle) is out.
Kevin Durant was rusty for most of the game but finished strong for a nice line. KD finished shooting 8-for-19 from the field, 8-for-8 from the line, for 25 points with six boards, five assists, one steal, two blocks and one 3-pointer in 41 minutes.
Klay Thompson shot 11-for-22 from the field for 24 points with five boards, four assists, one block and one 3-pointer in 41 minutes on Tuesday. He played much better on the road this series, averaging nearly 10 points per game better than he did in San Antonio. Draymond Green also stepped up with a big double-double, scoring 17 points with 19 boards, seven assists and two 3-pointers in 40 minutes.
As for the Spurs, their elimination comes on the heels of a very strange season. Kawhi Leonard (quad) continued to sit, as his camp was not ready for him to use his body for the Spurs’ cause this season. Rumors will most certainly swirl about his future with the team, which will make for an interesting offseason.
Meanwhile, the team got all they could out of LaMarcus Aldridge this season, who had a fantastic season. Aldridge finished strong in Game 5, shooting 8-for-18 from the field and a perfect 14-for-14 from the line for 30 points, 12 boards, four assists and one steal in 40 minutes. The big man still has an MVP switch left in the tank.
Patty Mills was the only other Spurs player to score in double figures, hitting four 3-pointers for 18 points. It was a dreary night for the bunch, but they fought hard until the final buzzer.
With the victory, the Warriors move on to play Anthony Davis and the Pelicans in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Curry still has no timetable to return, but he has showed signs of returning to the court sooner than later. That series should be a treat.
CELTICS WIN AT HOME, LEAD SERIES 3-2
Home-court clearly has been a huge difference maker for two young teams, as the winner of all five games has been the home team so far. That was good news for the Celtics, as they put away the Bucks in Game 5 with a 92-87 win on Tuesday.
Al Horford shot 7-for-15 from the field for 22 points with 14 boards, three assists, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 37 minutes. The Celtics needed this game to keep home court and Horford provided the veteran leadership needed to finish the job. If you haven’t realized by now, big men have destroyed the Bucks all season, whether or not John Henson (back) is in the lineup. Proceed in DFS accordingly.
Terry Rozier shot 4-for-10 from the field and 6-for-8 from the line for 16 points with three boards, five assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers in 33 minutes. He hit four free throws in the final 16 seconds of the game, sealing the five-point win. Rozier has definitely made big noise for his clutch shots in this series and, while he wasn’t hot tonight, he still found ways to get it done down the stretch and help his team. He is making big strides as a starter and will continue to give opposing point guards fits with his confident style of play.
As for the Bucks, the Greek Freak was quieter than usual on the offensive end despite nearly achieving a double-double. Giannis Antetokounmpo shot 5-for-10 from the field and 6-for-9 from the line for 16 points, 10 boards, nine assists, two steals and two blocks in 41 minutes during Game 5’s 92-87 loss to the Celtics on Tuesday. He only took 10 out of the Bucks’ 87 shots on Tuesday, which is a rarity for such a high-volume, efficient player. The Celtics certainly worked hard to keep the ball out of his hands, a task that falls a little too easy at times for the Bucks. The team goes through lulls where Giannis doesn’t get touches on offense, something you don’t want to see as a fan and from an efficiency standpoint.
Khris Middleton shot 9-for-21 from the field for 23 points with three boards, two assists and three 3-pointers in 41 minutes. He hit two big 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds, but it was too little too late as the Bucks couldn’t get late stops to capture a lead. Middleton was surprisingly off for most of the game and took more than double the shots than Giannis. He didn’t register any defensive stats either, putting a damper on his fantasy line.
Jabari Parker shot 7-for-15 from the field for 17 points with eight boards, two assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 32 minutes. He hit a low-point in Game 2, when he played just 10 minutes and went 0-for-2 for zero points. Since then, he has averaged 16.3 points in Games 3-5 and has made notable defensive plays to help his team. Still, Milwaukee inner circles do not see him as a great fit for the future of the team.
The Bucks will fight for their lives trailing the series 2-3 for Game 6 on Thursday in Milwaukee.
DWYANE WADE’S FINAL GAME?
Dwyane Wade wasn’t ready to discuss retirement after his team was eliminated on Tuesday night.
“There will be no breaking news here in Philly,” Wade told reporters after the game. “Fresh off the NBA season, my 15th year, I’ll sit back and think about that. Then, I’ll dive and throw myself into my family. They’re next on my bucket list of making sure I’m there for them.”
Wade turned 36 in January and just completed his 15th NBA season. He becomes a free agent on July 1
April 23, 2019, 1:30 amChris Paul - G - Houston Rockets
Chris Paul had a great Game 4 in Monday's 91-107 loss to the Jazz with 23 points on 8-of-19 shooting with eight rebounds, seven assists, five steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers.
Paul had a nice breakaway dunk late in the fourth, showing that he's still got the hops and his defense throughout tonight was also solid. He brought back some of his vintage layup package, but the Rockets as a whole went cold from deep late in the game and couldn't stop Donovan Mitchell's barrage in the fourth quarter.
April 23, 2019, 1:30 amJae Crowder - F - Utah Jazz
Jae Crowder finally had a strong night offensively in Monday's Game 4 with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting to go with four rebounds, an assist, two steals and three 3-pointers.
Crowder had 18 first half points which would have been the most he's scored in any game this series. He was on fire to start the first period and his energy levels were much higher tonight. The Jazz finally got a strong game out of Crowder on both ends of the floor and he'll have to keep nailing shots for the Jazz to drag out this series.
April 23, 2019, 1:29 amRudy Gobert - C - Utah Jazz
Rudy Gobert logged 24 foul-plagued minutes in Monday's Game 4 and scored four points on 2-of-4 shooting with nine rebounds, two assists, a steal and three blocks.
Gobert was a net-positive whenever he was on the floor tonight and he's getting better at keeping up with Houston's guards on the perimeter. He's blocked several of James Harden's floaters over the past two games and has dominated the paint when he plays, but was limited due to fouls tonight. Derrick Favors (24 minutes, 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting with 11 rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block) more than carried his weight tonight as he kept the Rockets at bay with his suffocating defense inside the paint in the final period of action.
April 23, 2019, 1:24 amClint Capela - C - Houston Rockets
Clint Capela struggled in Monday's Game 4, scoring four points on 1-of-6 shooting with seven rebounds and two assists in 28 minutes.
Capela went 2-for-6 at the line and he was severely limited in tonight's game as he struggled with Utah's physicality. The normal lobs he received from James Harden were much more difficult to control tonight and he had trouble finishing around the rim. We expect him to be much better in the next game.
April 23, 2019, 1:24 amDonovan Mitchell - G - Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell carried the Jazz in their 107-91 win over the Rockets in Game 4 on Monday with 31 points on 11-of-26 shooting to go with seven rebounds, four assists, a steal and three 3-pointers.
Mitchell finally got some help from his teammates tonight as they helped carry the team's offensive burden throughout the first three periods. In the final quarter, Mitchell scored the Jazz's first 13 points and ended up with 19 fourth quarter points. He had a dazzling spin move, some deep triples and a freakishly athletic alley-oop dunk all in the span of 12 minutes and has kept the Jazz season alive for at least another game due to his heroic efforts. Although the team as a whole has struggled offensively, Mitchell showed his superstar potential tonight.
April 23, 2019, 1:17 amRicky Rubio - G - Utah Jazz
Ricky Rubio scored 18 points on 6-of-17 shooting while adding 11 assists, three rebounds, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer in Game 4 on Monday.
Rubio played much better defense on Houston's guards tonight but was still unable to stretch the floor with his shooting as he went 1-for-7 from deep. If he can make incremental improvements on his defensive assignment while hitting a couple more triples, the Jazz have a good shot at extending this series.
April 23, 2019, 1:15 amJames Harden - G - Houston Rockets
James Harden scored 30 points on 8-of-19 shooting with three rebounds, four assists, two steals and six 3-pointers in Game 4 on Monday.
Harden is facing one of the toughest defenses in the league so the shots he makes are difficult. The step-back 3s were on full display tonight, but Harden had difficulty penetrating the Jazz defense whenever Rudy Gobert was manning the paint. Although his shooting percentages were high, he committed eight turnovers as the mid-range territory is one of the hardest to navigate. Gobert is predicting his floaters and Clint Capela couldn't grab and finish the usual lob passes which hampered Harden's success tonight. He's slowly figuring out the Jazz defense and if Capela can return to form we can expect his assist numbers to spike.
April 23, 2019, 1:12 amEric Gordon - G - Houston Rockets
Eric Gordon scored 16 points on 5-of-12 shooting with five 3-pointers, a rebound, an assist and a block in Monday's Game 4.
Gordon started off hot and did all the stuff the Rockets expected him to do, but late in the game he was unable to hit timely shots for Houston. He'll get another crack at some open looks due to Utah's defensive scheme.
April 23, 2019, 12:21 amBlake Griffin - F - Detroit Pistons
Blake Griffin may have limped through 28 minutes in Monday night's 127-104 Game 4 loss to the Bucks, but he put up 22 points, five rebounds, six assists and four threes.
Griffin helped keep the Pistons' season alive for almost three quarters on a bad knee before fouling out in the fourth to a standing ovation. He was at significantly less than 100 percent during this series, but it was good to see him lay it all out there as a last-gasp effort for his team. Griffin had a great fantasy season and there should be more of the same as the 30-year-old hopefully returns healthy in 2019-20.
April 23, 2019, 12:10 amReggie Jackson - G - Detroit Pistons
Reggie Jackson scored a team-high 26 points (9-of-20 FGs, 5-of-9 threes, 3-of-3 FTs) with seven dimes, three boards and a steal in Monday's Game 4 loss to the Bucks.
Jackson looked great tonight while keeping the Pistons in front for the majority of the game. However, the Bucks went on a big run in the third and fourth quarters to complete the sweep. Jackson, at age 29, doesn't have a whole lot of upside left, but he's certainly capable of putting together games like this once or twice a month to swing a head-to-head matchup.