Steve Alexander

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Western Conf. Preview

Thursday, April 12, 2018


Well, it took until the final moments of a 12-game night on the last day of the regular season to figure out not only who would play whom in the playoffs, but who would be in and who would be out. Actually, the Wolves solved that mystery relatively early with their intense overtime win against the Nuggets, but now that the playoffs are set, let’s take a look at playoff matchups. I’m going to break down the Western Conference Playoffs tonight, while Jonas Nader or Tommy Beer will be here on Thursday night/Friday morning with an Eastern Conference preview in Friday’s Daily Dose. Hit up my MVP and Rookie of the Year polls on Twitter by clicking here!

 

I don’t feel like breaking down a ton of games where a bunch of scrubs played in mostly meaningless contests. But I will say that there’s a decent chance the Rookie of the Year Award could go to both Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell. The award has gone to Co-Rookies several times in the past, both of their teams are in the playoffs, and both of them were critical to their team’s success. And while it may end in a tie and they could share the award, my pick is still Simmons, who helped lead the Sixers to a ridiculous 16 straight wins down the stretch, half of which came without Joel Embiid in uniform. As for MVP, I don’t see how James Harden doesn’t win it, despite LeBron James’ incredible year.

 

In case you’re wondering, the Eastern matchups are:

 

No. 1 Toronto vs. No. 8 Wizards 

No. 2 Boston vs. No. 7 Bucks

No. 3 Philadelphia vs. No. 6 Heat

No. 4 Cavaliers vs. No. 5 Pacers

 

As I said, look for the Eastern Conference Preview column in Friday’s Daily Dose.

 

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Eastern News & Notes

 

Jeff Hornacek was fired by the Knicks last night after coaching the team for two years. He never had a chance with one of the league’s most dysfunctional franchises, but at least we don’t hear much about Jimmy Dolan these days.

 

Markelle Fultz became the youngest player to ever triple-double in the NBA with his 13 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, passing Lonzo Ball for the honor.

 

The Celtics started five guys Charles Barkley has never heard of. Seriously, I bet if you told him an NBA team was starting Guerschon Yabusele, Abdel Nader, Aron Baynes, Shane Larkin and Jabari Bird, he might have been able to guess it was the Celtics, but I doubt it.

 

LeBron James played in all 82 games for the first time in 15 years and had 10 points in 11 minutes. LeBron and Karl-Anthony Towns were the only two true studs to play in all 82 games this season, while Khris Middleton, Bradley Beal, Joe Ingles, Taj Gibson, Taurean Prince, E’Twaun Moore, Julius Randle, Jakob Poeltl, Andrew Wiggins, Marcin Gortat, Yogi Ferrell, Ish Smith, P.J. Tucker, Patty Mills, Cory Joseph, Tyus Jones and Dillon Brooks also pulled off 82-game seasons. And speaking of Brooks, he finished on a high note, scoring a career-high 36 points in his finale.

 

The Heat beat the Raptors in overtime, led by Wayne Ellington’s 32 points and eight 3-pointers, while Kyle Lowry just missed a triple-double with a 28-10-9 line in the OT loss.

 

Western Conference Playoff Preview

 

1. Rockets vs. 8. Timberwolves – The Rockets will face the Timberwolves in Round 1 of the playoffs and the Rockets will hold home-court advantage. Home court is big in the NBA and the Rockets will be heavy favorites to win this series, as well as the NBA Title. But the Wolves are no laughing matter with Karl-Anthony Towns, Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague and Andrew Wiggins in their starting lineup.

 

The Rockets will be led by leading MVP candidate, James Harden, along with Chris Paul, Clint Capela and Trevor Ariza, and will be bolstered off the bench by Eric Gordon and Gerald Green. The Rockets will be without forward Luc Mbah a Moute, who suffered a separated shoulder on Tuesday night. He’s likely to miss the first round of the playoffs with his injury. Ryan Anderson, who has missed three straight games with an ankle injury, should be good to go for Round 1. And with Mbah a Moute out, that’s a big deal. Anderson should play a key role for the Rockets in the playoffs, but is still too unreliable to count on in DFS and playoff leagues. Then again, with the Rockets expected to make a run at a championship, Anderson will be worth drafting at some point in playoff leagues. Gerald Green went nuts on Wednesday against the Kings, as Harden, Paul, Capela and Ariza all sat out. Green finished with 31 points and seven 3-pointers, while R.J. Hunter added 19 points in a rare start. They were the only two Rockets in double figures.

 

The Wolves beat the Nuggets 112-106 in overtime to win the first final-day play-in game in the NBA in the last 21 years. Jimmy Butler had 31 points, five rebounds, five assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer to lead the Wolves to the playoffs, while Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Jeff Teague all played well in the win. Wiggins hit a couple clutch free throws with 15 seconds left in overtime to seal the win. Taj Gibson played through a sore neck, so he should be OK for the playoffs, while Nikola Jokic had 35 points and 10 boards in the loss. Wilson Chandler failed to score in 48 minutes, while Jamaal Murray and Will Barton played well for the Nuggets, who were eliminated from the postseason in the tough loss.

 

The Wolves are getting Butler back just in time and he came through when it mattered most. This series should be a war and I’m not about to bet against the Rockets, but if Butler, KAT, Wiggins and Teague are firing on all cylinders, anything is possible. James Harden and Chris Paul better be ready to bring their A-game.

 

Prediction: Rockets in 6

 


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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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