April 20, 2018, 10:21 pmLeBron JamesSF/PF, Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James scored 28 points (four 3s) to go with 12 boards, eight dimes, a steal and a block in a disheartening 92-90 loss to the Pacers.
Cleveland trapped and mobbed Victor Oladipo en route to a 17-point first half lead but collapsed in the second half as they were outscored 52-33. During that second half, Bron got virtually no help. At one point in the fourth he scored 12 straight points for the Cavs (including a personal 7-0 run to tie the game late) but it wasn't enough to secure the win. James is 12-0 in the first round over his career but a victory in this one is in doubt as the Cavs' defense in non-existent, and with a little pressure their offense devolves into a one man show.
April 20, 2018, 9:49 pmBojan BogdanovicSG/SF, Indiana Pacers
Bojan Bogdanovic scored 15 in the fourth quarter and ended up with 30 points (including tying a Pacers’ playoff record seven 3s) in Friday’s 92-90 comeback win over the Cavs.
Bojan shot 11-for-15 from the floor and was a huge factor in Indiana’s comeback. He hit several key shots down the stretch including a 3-bomb from Carmel when the Cavs got close. The Pacers needed him today and he came up huge. The win puts Indiana up 2-1 in the series and they have a chance to take a commanding lead on Sunday before the series returns to Cleveland.
April 20, 2018, 12:09 amKevin DurantSF, Golden State Warriors
Kevin Durant scored 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting with a 3-pointer, nine rebounds and six assists against the Spurs on Thursday.
Durant is going to be leading the Warriors in scoring in just about every game as they're playing without Stephen Curry. He's also handling and distributing the ball a lot more now and that's by design. The Warriors run a lot of motion so they're using Durant to set up Klay Thompson off screens which worked well tonight, but late in the fourth quarter, Durant suffered an ankle roll that might cause him to miss Game 4. Stay tuned for updates.
April 19, 2018, 11:51 pmAnthony DavisC, New Orleans Pelicans
Anthony Davis dominated the Blazers in Game 3's 119-102 victory with 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting with 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks.
The only thing Davis didn't do tonight was hit a 3-pointer, but his looks were on target. He was abusing anyone they threw at him in the paint and off the dribble. Jusuf Nurkic doesn't stand a chance guarding him as Davis just takes the ball on the dribble and can get a clean jumper whenever he wants. When they throw Al-Farouq Aminu or any of their faster bigs, Davis just rises for lobs over the top. Now it sounds easy, but when you watch where he's catching the ball and how he's finishing, you see a generational talent that is clearly the best player on the floor on both ends. He fell down hard and had a slight scare for a moment, but he stayed in the game and looked healthy. Look for the Brow to finish the sweep and attain his first playoff series win on Saturday.
April 19, 2018, 11:48 pmNikola MiroticPF, New Orleans Pelicans
Nikola Mirotic set a new playoff career-high in Game 3 on Thursday with 30 points on 12-of-15 shooting with four 3-pointers, eight rebounds, two assists, three steals and a block.
Mirotic couldn't miss from any part of the floor and even went 2-for-2 at the line. He was exploiting mismatches and bullying the Blazers guards down low whenever they switched on the pick and roll. The 4-for-6 shooting from deep helped open up his game as he put the ball on the floor and displayed an array of floaters and spin moves which Portland had no answer for. Mirotic is a big reason as to why the Pelicans are dominating this series right now and there doesn't seem to be an answer for him.
April 19, 2018, 11:40 pmDamian LillardPG, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard scored 20 points on 5-of-14 shooting with three 3-pointers, three rebounds and two assists in Thursday's Game 3 against the Pelicans.
This was Dame's highest scoring total in the three games this series, but he still couldn't shoot the ball well. The 35.7% field goal percentage isn't even his worst night in the series which speaks volumes to how he's been guarded. New Orleans isn't shy about sending two or three players at Dame whenever he has the ball and he's jacking up contested triples that just aren't falling. The trap is working well for the Pelicans as Lillard turned the ball over eight times this game and seven times the game prior. If the Blazers are going to win a game, Lillard is going to have to find a way to attack the trap that the Pelicans are throwing at him, otherwise he's in for another long night in New Orleans.
April 19, 2018, 10:21 pmJustise WinslowSG/SF, Miami Heat
Justise Winslow sparked the bench with 19 points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes on Thursday.
Winslow was a big factor in keeping the game close in the first half but he really didn't contribute much down the stretch as the Heat faded away. He is just one of the pack of potentially productive wing players for the Heat and they'll really need something special from Winslow in addition to others from the bench group to keep up in the series.
April 19, 2018, 10:02 pmBen SimmonsPF, Philadelphia Sixers
Ben Simmons led the Sixers to a Game 3 win on Thursday with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting with 12 rebounds, seven assists and four steals.
Simmons started off strong again and has proven he can still get it done in the playoffs. The Heat have thrown multiple bodies on him and Justise Winslow has the physique to match up, but Simmons is just too good at getting inside the paint. He’s one of the best passers in the game and even when opponents sag off, he’s fast and strong enough to barrel his way into the paint to disrupt the defense. Simmons was playing well without Joel Embiid, but now that the Sixers got their All-Star big man back in the lineup we can expect to see the game open up even more for him.
April 19, 2018, 10:00 pmJoel EmbiidC, Philadelphia Sixers
Joel Embiid lead the Sixers in scoring on Thursday with 23 points on 5-of-11 shooting (10-of-15 FTs) with seven rebounds, four assists, a steal, three blocks and three triples.
Embiid was an absolute beast tonight and he immediately got Hassan Whiteside into foul trouble early in the game. He dealt with some foul issues himself, but stayed in the game and had a huge impact. The dynamic of the game shifts entirely when Embiid is on the floor as he pretty much got the entire Heat starting lineup into foul trouble. The 10-for-15 shooting at the line is something that needs to be cleaned up, but for his first game back it was all you could ask for. The Sixers didn't run away with this one until midway in the fourth quarter and when JoJo hits 3-for-4 from deep you don't stand much of a chance.
April 16, 2018, 12:38 amJames HardenSG, Houston Rockets
James Harden put the Rockets over the top on Sunday with 44 points on 15-of-26 from the floor in a 104-101 Game 1 victory.
Harden added four rebounds, eight assists, two steals and seven 3-pointers. The Rockets got lackluster performances from everyone not named James or Clint, but The Beard was simply too good for Minnesota to overcome tonight. The Wolves had no answer for much of the night and Harden was able to drag his teammates across the finish line. The Wolves dropped a surprisingly winnable Game 1 and could be in tough if even one or two extra Rockets can help ease the burden on Harden in Game 2. Even if that doesn't happen, the likely MVP seems ready to do the heavy lifting anyway.
April 16, 2018, 12:32 amClint CapelaC, Houston Rockets
Clint Capela dropped a 24-point, 12-rebound double-double on Sunday night, shooting 10-of-15 from the field while adding a steal and three blocks for good measure.
Capela was a terror on his rim runs and caught some lobs as the Wolves were preoccupied with Houston's backcourt on drives. He handled himself fairly well on the perimeter and has given Minnesota plenty to think about ahead of their next tilt. The big man also hit all four free throws and didn't commit a turnover to cap off a strong performance.
April 16, 2018, 12:22 amJeff TeaguePG, Minnesota Timberwolves
Jeff Teague was excellent in Game 1, finishing Sunday's defeat with 15 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, a steal, a block and a triple in just 29 minutes.
Maybe play him more? Just a thought. Derrick Rose and Jamal Crawford probably don't need 50 combined minutes in 2018, but we're not coaches. Teague did have five turnovers, two of which were just sloppy passes on plays where Minnesota had chances to really cut into Houston's lead. The most memorable one came on the fast break after Teague pickpocketed Chris Paul, only to fling the ball out of bounds on the ensuing run up court. There were also some questionable drives in the second half when he opted to blow past Clint Capela rather than feed KAT in a mismatch. Either way, Teague was more or less in control of the offense and more lines like this would portend well for the Wolves' fortunes going forward.
April 16, 2018, 12:03 amKarl-Anthony TownsC, Minnesota Timberwolves
Karl-Anthony Towns was relegated to the back burner in Sunday's Game 1 defeat, shooting only 3-of-9 for eight points, 12 rebounds and a block in 40 minutes of action.
Not the finest playoff debut from KAT, though plenty of questions should be lobbed over to the other Wolves about why he was only able to take nine shots tonight. There were repeated possessions where he found himself with a mismatch in the post only to be told to clear out and open the driving lanes. Perhaps Minnesota wanted to clear the path for offensive rebounds with Clint Capela switched onto guards, but ignoring KAT on James Harden seems like a bit extreme. It's also worth noting that Towns does have some trouble passing out of the post, especially when doubles come. No matter what the cause, he simply has to be less of a passenger on offense. Four other Wolves took more shots than KAT tonight, and two of them were Jamal Crawford and Derrick Rose.
April 15, 2018, 11:59 pmRicky RubioPG, Utah Jazz
Ricky Rubio finished Sunday's loss with 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists, four steals and a block but shot just 5-of-18 to do it.
There were several possessions where the Thunder flat out ignored Rubio and dared him to shoot. That's how he'll be played all series long, and Quin Snyder will now head to the drawing board to try and give Rubio some other options beyond hesitating and reluctantly bricking an open jumper. The Jazz don't have many other players who can create off the bounce, so they'll need a ton of off-ball movement to spare their point guard from more nights like this.
April 15, 2018, 10:57 pmLeBron JamesSF, Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron James dropped a triple-double while the rest of his team messed around on Sunday against the Pacers in the 80-98 loss, scoring 24 points with 10 boards, 12 assists, a steal and a block.
Only three Cavs made it into double figures on Sunday and that type of effort won’t be enough against a hungry Pacers team. James shot it poorly on Sunday only hitting 7-of-17 shots and 10-of-14 freebies. Despite those unflattering numbers LeBron still shot better than his teammates who finished the game at 39 percent from the field and 60 percent from the line.