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Dose: Lillard carted to bus

Wednesday, April 4, 2018


Damian Lillard’s injury and playoff races were the stories of the night on an incredibly busy Tuesday that featured 13 NBA games after the league took the day off on Monday, thanks to the NCAA Championship (congratulation, Villanova). Wednesday’s Daily Dose breaks down what you might have missed.

 

Damian Lillard’s near future in doubt

 

I’m on spring break with my family and Grandma & Grandpa’s house isn’t exactly fantasy-writer friendly. In fact, I didn’t have a television on all night and worked on a dining room table cluttered with checkbooks circa 1983, a magnet offering blackjack strategies, a year’s worth of Money magazine, and a massive, fake-flower centerpiece that your grandmother might also have. In any case, Lillard’s left ankle injury didn’t even knock him out of the game (as far as I know). He pulled up lame late, but ignored trainers and powered through it. But reality set in after the Blazers somehow lost to the Mavericks, and Lillard was put on a cart to get from the locker room to the team bus.  "I think I have a pretty high pain tolerance but I’m going to be smart about it," he said after the game. "It’s the end of the season, we’re going into playoffs so I have to be smart that one thing doesn’t turn into another." To me, that translates into Lillard possibly missing the rest of the season with a severely sprained left ankle. Then again, he could wake up in the morning and feel great, and say he’s ready to go on Thursday night at Houston. I’m guessing he’s going to miss at least two of the Blazers’ final four games, but really wouldn’t be surprised if he misses all four of them. Having Lillard healthy for the playoffs is much more important than hanging onto the No. 3 seed. But with the Spurs falling to the Clippers last night, the Blazers hold a somewhat comfortable 2.5-game lead over the Spurs, leaving them in pretty good shape. If you’re looking for the fantasy fallout here, it’s pretty clear that Shabazz Napier should be grabbed everywhere. He’s averaging 17.1 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.9 3-pointers in his eight starts this season.

 

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Kevin Durant tops Russell Westbrook in showdown

 

Russell Westbrook had one of the fantasy lines of the night with his 44 points, 16 rebounds, six assists, two steals and three 3-pointers, and actually had one of his more efficient games of the season, but the Warriors got the 111-107 win behind Kevin Durant’s 34-point double-double and some help from Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Quinn Cook and a bunch of bench guys who all seemed to score eight points (except for Jordan Bell, who had 6). But there’s also injury news from this game. Draymond Green rolled his left ankle, but says he’s going to play through it and is off until Thursday night in Indy. Andre Iguodala is hoping to return from his sore knee that night, and Omri Casspi’s not on the road trip due to his ankle injury. Steven Adams left with a hip injury and didn’t have a great game for the Thunder, but was able to play through it and finish with seven points and 13 rebounds. He appears to be fine. The Warriors have nothing left to play for, except to fine tune for the playoffs, while the Thunder are still clinging to the No. 6 seed, a ½ game ahead of the No. 7 Timberwolves and a full game ahead of the Pelicans.

 

The other playoff races

 

In the West, the Rockets and Warriors are locked into No. 1 and No. 2 and the Blazers look somewhat secure at No. 3, although the Lillard injury adds some intrigue. But after that, it’s a total crapshoot. The Spurs have five games remaining, lost to the Clippers last night and sit at No. 4, a ½ game up on the No. 5 Jazz, who got a big win over the Lakers last night. The Jazz have four games left and sit just ½ game up on the No. 6 Thunder, who have just three games remaining. The Thunder sit just ½ game up on the No. 7 Timberwolves, who have four games remaining, and the Wolves are ½ game ahead of the No. 8 Pelicans, who have five games left. And the No. 9 Nuggets are just a ½ game behind the Pelicans, with the No. 10 Clippers are still within striking distance, just 1.5 games behind the Nuggets.

 

There aren’t any truly intriguing games on Wednesday night, which is light with just six games, as the Pelicans should handle the Grizzlies in New Orleans. However, things should be interesting for the Spurs tonight, coming off a loss on Tuesday and having to play at the Lakers, who have lost three straight, in a back-to-back. If the Pels win, they’ll pull into a tie with No. 7 Minnesota, and if the Spurs lose, they fall into a tie with the No. 6 Thunder. But I’m most excited about Thursday’s matchup between the Wolves and Nuggets in Denver. If the No. 9 Nuggets, who have won three straight, beat the Wolves, they’ll shoot right past the No. 8 Pels and into a tie with No. 7 Minnesota at 19 games back, which is where the Pelicans will be if they beat the Grizzlies on Wednesday. And yeah, there are a ton of tie-breaker scenarios in play here, but they’ll become more relevant as the season winds down. It’s going to be a wild finish in the West, and I can’t wait to try to find a place to watch that Nuggets-Wolves game on Thursday. God knows it won’t be on at Grandma’s house.

 

In the East, we know the eight teams who are going to be in the playoffs, and the Pistons aren’t one of them, even though they haven’t been officially eliminated. The No. 1 Raptors are just 2.0 games up on the No. 2 Celtics, and they just so happen to play each other on Wednesday night. If the Celtics can get the win (at Toronto), that lead would be down to a 1.0-game led for Toronto, making for more late-season intrigue in the fight for the No. 1 seed in the East. But chances are, the Raptors are going to hang on and get it. Both the Raptors and Celtics lost on Wednesday, or things would be even more interesting tonight. Kyle Lowry went to San Antonio to watch his Villanova Wildcats win the championship on Monday and he didn’t play well at all against Jose Calderon and the Cavs last night. If George Hill continues to sit with his ankle injury, Calderon might be worth a look, but he won’t get his former team every night. The Cavs got a huge win behind LeBron James’ 27 points, 10 boards, six assists and three 3-pointers, (and a big game from Calderon) and hold a slim ½ game lead over the No. 4 Sixers. As of now, we’re looking at the Sixers holding homecourt advantage in a first-round matchup with the Pacers, who lost to the Nuggets last night, but if the Cavs falter and the Sixers, who have now won 11 straight games, keep rolling, those two could switch places for No. 3 and 4. The Pacers appear to be locked into the No. 5 spot. The Heat, Wizards and Bucks all sit at 13.5 games behind the Raptors, and they’re all going to be in must-win mode the rest of the way, although they’re all going to make the playoffs, assuming the Pistons, who have won five straight games, don’t win out. The Cavs visit the Sixers on Friday night, which will be another must-see game for any NBA fan. Let’s go!

 


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Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2017-18 NBA season marks (at least) his 16th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.
Email :Steve Alexander



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