April 26, 2018, 3:25 pm
It’s Thursday Night and that means there’s going to be some quality, nationally televised PLAYOFF basketball being played in between wondering if you should dare switch the channel during commercials to see which NFL teams are actively screwing up their futures. Only one feature game tonight and it should be a doozy so lets get after it.
Boston Celtics @ Milwaukee Bucks
The Celtics are a game away from making it into the second round and the Bucks are back at home to try to bring this to a Game 7. With so much great basketball all around, this series has stood out as one the best in the playoffs so far and a Game 7 would cement that status. The series been chock full of close games, ridiculous finishes, and bad blood. Come to think of it, that last part has actually been the really under appreciated part of this year’s playoffs. Almost every series has had some real testiness behind it. The fouls feel harder and the nastiness has kicked up a level. This one has been no different and it’s a welcome feeling.
Since there’s only one game tonight, I’ll just run through a number of things I’m thinking about for each team.
Terry Rozier insisting on calling Eric Bledsoe “Drew” is some great shade. First, there are few more infuriating things that someone calling you the wrong name. That’s way crappier than trying to pull the “Who’s that guy” card. Second, Drew Bledsoe had a great career and then was replaced by Tom Brady who went on to become an all-time great. Don’t think that messaging hasn’t sunk in. Eric Bledsoe has been a good player on bad teams and had a history of injury issues. So if this is also Terry Rozier’s way of saying, you’re past you’re prime and time for you to go then it’s an incredible burn. If Eric Bledsoe really wanted to flip the script and bring this beef full circle, he could refer to Rozier as Terry Glenn, so long as he doesn’t go full Parcells.
Jaylen Brown has been fantastic in the series and it’s a shame that he’s likely doomed to a 6th man scoring role next season. This assumes that both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward return to full health and will be starters alongside Al Horford and Jayson Tatum. Fantasy owners are going to start a #FreeJay campaign when his nightly lines start to look like they belong to Shabazz Muhammad.
I don’t know if this Celtics team can make a deep run without Irving and Hayward, but I want them to just so we can turn Marcus Smart into a full-fledged playoff villain. Smart’s return was a huge factor in Boston’s Game 5 win and that alley-oop block on the Freak was a thing of beauty. He’s going to make enough defensive plays for every opposing fan to want to punt him into the sun. Marcus Smart is the kind of player that everyone else hates, but you’d absolutely love if he were on your team. This generation needs a new Bruce Bowen and Smart could fit that bill.
I hope the Sixers give Markelle Fultz some playing time for a potential Tatum vs. Fultz grudge match. This has been such a fantastic season for the 2017 draft class and whoever gets the best of the traded pick war would just be a cherry on the rookie sundae. If these two teams wind up fighting for the future of the East year in and year out then I hope we can look back at this being the start of something special between the two.
Call me crazy, but I think it’s a wise idea for the Bucks to get Giannis more than 10 field goal attempts. Only getting 10 FGAs in Game 5 is simply unacceptable, I don’t care who is guarding him whether it’s Marcus Smart, Aron Baynes, or a Cthulu that rises up from under the arena. Giannis had exactly two games this season with 10 or less FGAs and take a wild guess how those games wound up for the Bucks.
They’re not Irving and Hayward, but I also wonder what this Bucks team could do if John Henson and Malcolm Brogdon were fully healthy. Henson has missed the last couple of games with a back injury and Brogdon is still finding himself after his knee injury. When the Bucks get going Henson can be a menace to opposing big men and Brogdon has sneaky offense. The Bucks are missing those factors on nights when Giannis can’t do it all.
I hate to write the Bucks off and move onto next season when they still could force a Game 7, but so much of what happens to this team depends on who will be their next head coach and what they do with Jabari Parker. Parker’s squeaky wheel act seemed to work, but that was partly due to the team losing Henson. Most teams’ cap situations aren’t great so Parker may find getting offer sheets pretty difficult. Perhaps there’s a bit of a “prove it” deal that his people and the Bucks can work out. I can’t possibly imagine that the Bucks let their former No. 2 overall pick walk without knowing what could be if he can get a healthy season in alongside Giannis, Middleton, and Bledsoe.
Part of what makes this Bucks team so frustrating is that the talent is there, but the results haven’t been. That’s got to fall on coaching. Jason Kidd was never consistent with player rotations and Joe Prunty isn’t a viable long-term option. So much of the Bucks’ would-be success also hinges on finding the right head coach and they have no shortage of options. It’s probably the biggest job available given whoever takes the reigns will be coaching an in-his-prime Greek Freak. And given how close he was to Kidd, it behooves management to find someone who can take his freakish talents to the next level and keep Giannis happy. A happy Freak is going to be the best kind of Freak.
But I do hope there is a Game 7, because Game 7s rule. A Bucks win tonight means shifts all the pressure onto Boston and Brad Stevens. If the Celtics lose in 7 then the season is a failure, regardless of who is in and out of the lineup. Win and, well, they were supposed to win and their reward is a fired up Philly squad that is growing in strength by the day. Don’t let us down Bucks.
December 5, 2019, 7:23 pmFrank NtilikinaPG, New York Knicks
Frank Ntilikina will get the start on Thursday against the Nuggets.
Ntilikina draws the start over Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr. on Thursday. Payton did earn the starting role prior to getting injured so it is possible that he supplants Ntilikina at some point this season. As long as all three point guards are healthy, they will all have their fantasy ceilings capped.
Source: Ian Begley on Twitter
December 5, 2019, 7:17 pmCarmelo AnthonyPF, Portland Trail Blazers
Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Blazers have guaranteed Carmelo Anthony's contract for the remainder of the season.
This comes as no surprise as Anthony has helped the Blazers significantly since signing a partially guaranteed contract a few weeks ago. Anthony is currently producing per-game value of 119/128 in 8/9 cat leagues. It remains to be seen if he can produce at this level for an entire season at the age of 35.
Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter
December 5, 2019, 7:13 pmJacob EvansSG, Golden State Warriors
Jacob Evans (left adductor strain) is officially listed as questionable on the latest NBA Injury Report.
Coach Steve Kerr told the media earlier on Thursday that Evans should be considered questionable for Friday's contest but the official injury report lists him as out. Regardless, Evans is clearly close to returning to the court. When he does return, he will likely take away some minutes from two-way player, Ky Bowman.
Source: NBA Injury Report
December 5, 2019, 7:06 pmMarvin Bagley IIIPF, Sacramento Kings
Marvin Bagley (right thumb fracture) has been cleared for contact on Thursday.
This is great news for the Kings and Bagley as we are just over six weeks from the initial injury. Continue to monitor for updates but Bagley should return to the court soon. Bagley's return could lower the fantasy values of Richaun Holmes and Nemanja Bjelica.
Source: Jason Jones on Twitter
December 5, 2019, 6:56 pmJake LaymanSF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Jake Layman (left toe sprain) has been ruled out ahead of Friday's matchup against the Thunder.
This will mark Layman's seventh straight missed game. Treveon Graham, Josh Okogie and Keita Bates-Diop will all continue to see more opportunity while Layman is sidelined.
Source: Wolves PR on Twitter
December 5, 2019, 6:52 pmNaz ReidC, Minnesota Timberwolves
Naz Reid is questionable to face the Thunder on Friday as he nurses a sore shoulder.
Reid has yet to play in a regular season NBA game and will likely continue to spend most of his time this season in the G league. He is off the fantasy radar for now.
Source: Wolves PR on Twitter
December 5, 2019, 6:49 pmAron BaynesC, Phoenix Suns
Aron Baynes has been downgraded to out for Thursday's tilt vs. the Pelicans.
Including Thursday's game, Baynes has only played in one game over the last nine. Frank Kaminsky and Cheick Diallo will continue to get more opportunity for as long as Baynes remains out.
Source: Duane Rankin on Twitter
December 5, 2019, 6:46 pmIsaiah ThomasPG, Washington Wizards
Isaiah Thomas (left calf strain) will not play in Thursday's game vs. the Sixers.
Thomas was not listed on the injury report so it is possible that this injury occurred in warmups prior to the contest. Continue to monitor as we will learn more later tonight or Friday. Ish Smith will likely start at point while Chris Chiozza will get additional opportunity. Chiozza could be a great low-cost DFS play on Thursday as the Wizards will also be without Jordan McRae (finger).
Source: Wizards PR on Twitter
December 5, 2019, 6:42 pmDerrick FavorsPF, New Orleans Pelicans
Derrick Favors (personal) will not play on Thursday vs. the Suns.
Favors is dealing with something much bigger than basketball right now. While he remains out, Jaxson Hayes, Nicolò Melli and Kenrich Williams could see more opportunity.
Source: Daniel Sallerson on Twitter
December 5, 2019, 6:39 pmKenrich WilliamsPF, New Orleans Pelicans
Kenrich Williams will play on Thursday against the Suns despite being hampered by an ankle sprain.
Williams could see additional opportunity on Thursday as the Pelicans will continue to be without Derrick Favors (personal).
Source: Daniel Sallerson on Twitter