March 19, 2016, 2:25 pm
The weekend is here and if you’re a fan of the NBA you are in for quite a treat. There are nine games on the schedule for Saturday and while most of you will be tuning into one specific game — which we will get into — there are plenty of other games that have the potential to be spectacular.
The Honorable Mentions: The Thunder continue their East Coast trip as they take on the Pacers, the Rockets will be facing the Hawks and the Bulls look to bounce back from their loss on Wednesday by taking down the Jazz.
Now for the games that are without a doubt the ‘must watch’ games of the night.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Miami Heat
Tip Time: 7:30 pm (est)
Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL
Player Matchup: Kevin Love and Luol Deng
LeBron James made headlines earlier this month when he decided to take a trip to Miami to workout with his friend and former teammate Dwyane Wade. Ever since then it seems as if the Cavs just can’t stay out of the headlines.
The most recent piece of ‘news’ — or better yet rumors — has been that Kyrie Irving and James are on a power kick with one another. How much of that is true is up for you to decide, but it doesn’t seem to be a huge issue since the Cavs are still winning games and sit comfortably at the top of the Eastern Conference.
Cleveland (49-19) is entering this matchup on the second night of a back-to-back, and after Thursday’s win against the Magic, the Cavs have clinched a playoff berth.
“We thought we were going to make the playoffs, so it wasn’t really a big deal,” coach Tyronn Lue said following the win over the Magic. “We have bigger things ahead of us. We have a bigger deal in front of us.”
Kevin Love has yet to find his place on this Cavs roster since coming to the team last season in the Wiggins deal. Through the month of March, Love is averaging 14.6 points, 9.6 rebounds and shooting a horrific 36.7 percent from the field.
Love was listed as questionable for Friday’s matchup against the Magic due to ‘illness’. He was able to play through it on Friday but was benched in the fourth quarter. With the playoffs now secured, even though it’s reported that the players won’t rest this weekend, a surprise night of rest wouldn’t be extremely shocking.
Stay close to Hoop Ball for updates on Love’s status before tip-off.)
The Heat (39-29), unlike the Cavs, have yet to clinch their place in the playoffs. Although there are no questions that Miami will be making it in the playoffs this season, there is a question mark of who they will be playing.
The Heat find themselves in a three-way tie for fourth, fifth and sixth in the Eastern Conference. With just 14 games left in the season, each game becomes more important than the last, or as head coach Erik Spoelstra said, “There’s a lot at stake for us.”
Unfortunately, Miami has been struggling as of late. The team has gone 2-3 over their last five games and the reason for their struggles has been the team’s defense. Through their recent five-game stretch, Miami has given up an average of 110 points per game to their opponents. That is very significant since the Heat normally hold their opponents to an average of 97.9 points per game on the season.
Dwyane Wade must have had a sip from the fountain of youth with how he has been able to stay reasonably healthy this season. Through 62 games, which is the total amount of games he played during the 2014-2015 season, Wade has averaged 19.4 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. In the two previous meetings against the Cavs, Wade has averaged 22 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game.
“Obviously, we love to compete against them and I love to compete against (LeBron),” Wade said. “It will be good for us, coming off of a loss to play the best team in the Eastern Conference. It will be another challenge for us.”
This is an important game for the Heat, who are looking to stay out of the bottom-end of the playoff bubble. For the Cavs, they are looking to end a dry spell. Like LeBron, it’s been a while since Cleveland has come away with a win in Miami. The last time Cleveland was able to get a win in Miami was back on January 25, 2010.
Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs
Tip Time: 8:30 pm (est)
Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX
Player Matchup: Draymond Green and LaMarcus Aldridge
This has to be the most anticipated game of the season. These two teams have already faced each other once this year and in that game we saw a dominating performance by the Warriors. The game was in Golden State, where the Warriors have yet to lose on their home floor. Now the Spurs, who have also stayed undefeated at home, will look to defend their home court and give the reigning champs their seventh loss of the season.
In a way that leaves you in awe, the Warriors (62-6) have found a way to improve from their title run last season. The biggest reason for their success has been the improvement of the reigning MVP Stephen Curry – yes, I just said an MVP improved.
Curry is something this league has never seen before. After dealing with multiple ankle injuries early in his career, Curry has become the best shooter in NBA history. His ability to create shots for himself, play off of the ball and his unlimited range has earned him that title. Through 65 games this season, the six-year veteran has averaged 30.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game.
Surprisingly, the Warriors will be looking to snap a losing streak in Saturday’s game. No, don’t worry, the team hasn’t lost a game that you’re not aware of nor have they lost consecutive games all season. However, the Warriors as a franchise have lost 32 regular-season games in a row to the Spurs when playing in San Antonio.
“We know what the Spurs have been doing all year,” Curry said before Friday’s game against the Mavericks. “We’ll talk about how we haven’t won there in the regular-season for so long. We’d love to end that streak.”
If it weren’t for the historic season the Warriors were having, the Spurs (58-10) would be getting more attention. After getting upset in the first round of the playoffs by the Los Angeles Clippers last season, the Spurs have reloaded and look to be the best shot at an upset of the Warriors in a playoff series.
Kawhi Leonard has been phenomenal this season. The fourth-year forward is having himself a career year averaging 21 points, 6.7 rebound and 1.8 steals per game. In the month of March, Leonard is averaging 24.1 points, 6.9 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
In Spurs’ fashion, Tim Duncan – who was not active for the last game against the Warriors – downplayed Saturday’s game.
“It’s whatever you want to make it,” said Duncan. We’re going to show up for the game and we’re going to play it. It’s not going to change our season or anything else. It will be a great matchup for us. Obviously, two best records in the league. They’re playing exceptionally well. It’s a good test for us. Playoff-type atmosphere and playoff-type intensity. Good experience for us.”
After a rough start adapting to his new team and scoring just five points in the last matchup against Golden State, LaMarcus Aldridge has become heavily relied upon in the Spurs’ offense. Through the month of March, Aldridge has averaged 23.8 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.
These are not just the two best teams in the Western Conference, these are the two best teams in the entire NBA. Though both teams have already clinched a playoff berth, this game will start to have a playoff-feel to it no matter how much both teams want to resist attaching that type of meaning to it.
January 19, 2020, 2:39 pmJordan McRaeSG, Washington Wizards
Jordan McRae, who left Friday's game after sustaining an ankle injury, is not on the injury report for Monday.
Chalk this up as a big surprise but you're free to get McRae in your lineups if you'd usually have him in there. He's more of a borderline option now that Bradley Beal is healthy but you won't find too many better option for scoring punch at the end of your bench.
Source: NBA Injury Report
January 19, 2020, 2:37 pmKristaps PorzingisPF-C, Dallas Mavericks
Kristaps Porzingis (right knee soreness) went through a full practice on Sunday and is hoping to return to action on Tuesday.
Porzingis was close to returning on Wednesday but had some issues in pregame warmups, so while this is a very positive report you will still need to confirm things on Tuesday night. Maxi Kleber is going to be tough to deploy in standard-sized leagues with weekly lineup locks next week.
Source: Mike Peasley on Twitter
January 19, 2020, 2:34 pmAustin RiversPG, Houston Rockets
Austin Rivers (sprained right thumb) is questionable for Monday's game.
Rivers missed Saturday's game, though his absence doesn't have much impact on the fantasy landscape. If he sits again you can pencil in a few more minutes for Eric Gordon and Ben McLemore, but not enough to really move the needle.
Source: Jonathan Feigen on Twitter
January 19, 2020, 2:33 pmTyler HerroPG, Miami Heat
Tyler Herro (left knee bruise) will return from a two-game absence on Sunday against the Spurs.
Herro's knee is healed up and while he might play a bit less than usual, he's safe to get into lineups on a day with just two NBA games on deck. He's a late-round option when everything is clicking.
Source: Ira Winderman on Twitter
January 19, 2020, 1:48 pmAnzejs PasecniksC, Washington Wizards
Anzejs Pasecniks (left ankle sprain) is questionable to play on Monday.
Pasecniks has been playing well in a backup role for the shorthanded Wizards, and if he's forced to sit out tomorrow it'll mean more work for Ian Mahinmi and Johnathan Williams. Considering there are 14 games on tomorrow, we can't imagine that you'll be stressing about Pasecniks when setting your lineups.
Source: NBA Injury Report
January 19, 2020, 1:46 pmTyler HerroPG, Miami Heat
Tyler Herro (left knee bruise) will once again be a game-time decision on Sunday.
Herro has missed the last two games despite being a game-time decision for both of those, so perhaps the third time is the charm. His return would limit Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson but hopefully you're not leaning on any of these three for fantasy production. They're all standard-league guys but the upside is fairly capped when everyone is healthy.
Source: Anthony Chiang on Twitter
January 19, 2020, 1:44 pmRudy GaySF, San Antonio Spurs
Rudy Gay (illness) will not play on Sunday afternoon.
Gay missed Friday's game as well, though the Spurs weren't exactly clear with their injury diagnosis. It's nice to know that Gay is only dealing with an illness, and deep-league GMs should expect him back in the lineup shortly.
Source: Paul Garcia on Twitter
January 19, 2020, 1:39 pmDejounte MurrayPG, San Antonio Spurs
Dejounte Murray (illness) is available for Sunday's game.
Murray was previously listed as questionable but he'll be good to get into lineups as usual. There are some inconsistencies in his production, particularly when Derrick White is playing well, but Murray is returning middle-round value and the pros far outweigh the cons.
Source: Paul Garcia on Twitter
January 19, 2020, 1:08 pmRui HachimuraPF, Washington Wizards
Rui Hachimura (groin contusion/surgery) was able to do some "light work" at Sunday's practice.
Hachimura still isn't practicing but we'll take any progress we can get at this point. The rookie was on his way to a nice season before this setback, and it's sounding like he'll be able to return to the court in February.
Source: Chris Miller on Twitter
January 19, 2020, 1:03 pmJohn WallPG, Washington Wizards
John Wall (torn left Achilles) played some "controlled" 4-on-4 with teammates at Sunday's practice.
Wall had previously played with members of the training staff, so this is a potentially notable step forward in his recovery. Still, while Scott Brooks didn't rule him out for the year, it seems highly unlikely that we see Wall take the court before next season. Even if he does play, he's going to have heavy minutes restrictions and probably won't play long enough to get up to full speed — Wall is still a no-go in redraft leagues.
Source: Fred Katz on Twitter