Tommy Beer

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Simmons Superb in Debut

Sunday, April 15, 2018


The 2018 NBA playoffs tipped off on Saturday, and we saw many impressive performances, including a near triple-double from Ben Simmons in his postseason debut, as well as dominant efforts from Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis.


After reviewing all four of Saturday’s contests, we’ll wrap up the Dose by taking a quick look at a handful of players that are facing injury issues for Sunday’s games.


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Golden State Warriors 113, San Antonio Spurs 92:
The Warriors stumbled towards the finish line of the 2017-18 regular season. They were just 7-10 over their final 17 games, and looked surprisingly vulnerable. However, in Game 1 of the postseason, they looked like the unbeatable Warriors were have become accustomed to seeing over the past three years. Kevin Durant led the way on Saturday, tallying 24 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one 3-pointer in 32 minutes. Over his last eight playoffs games, dating back to the Conference Finals against the Spurs last season, Durant is averaging 32.8 points, 8.9 rebounds and 5.3 assists, while shooting 56.6 percent from the floor.


Klay Thompson caught fire and nailed 11 of his 13 field goal attempts for 27 points, to go along with two rebounds, two assists, one steal and five 3-pointers in 35 minutes. Per ESPN, Thompson is the first Warriors player with 25-plus points while shooting at least 80 percent from the field in a playoff game since Mitch Richmond in Game 3 of the 1989 First Round. We all expected Klay and KD to put up points in bunches; however, the Warriors' other standout on Saturday was a surprise. JaVale McGee drew the start at center and responded in a big way, finishing with 15 points, four rebounds, one steal and two blocks in just 16 minutes. McGee appeared in 65 games during the regular season, and never scored more than 14 points. He gave the Dubs a huge spark in the first half… Coach Steve Kerr switched up the Warriors starting lineup, with Andre Iguodala starting at point guard. Iggy had three points, seven rebounds, four assists, one block and one 3-pointer in 23 minutes... Quinn Cook was bumped to the bench and finished with five points, four rebounds, two assists and one block in 25 minutes…


The Warriors announced prior to Game 1 that Stephen Curry (knee) was examined by team doctors on Saturday and that he has made "steady functional progress" and will "intensify his on-court rehabilitation in the coming days." Steph's increased rehab regime will include more running and lateral movement. He will be re-evaluated in one week. He’s headed in the right direction, but we won’t see him until the start of the second round at the earliest. Durant and Thompson will continue to carry the offense until he returns.


The Spurs fell behind early and never made much of a run at the Warriors in Game 1. LaMarcus Aldridge finished with just 14 points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block. Yes, that means he had fewer points, rebounds and blocks than JaVale McGee. That’s obviously not a recipe for success for San Antonio. Aldridge’s two boards tied a career-playoff low. He’ll look to bounce back in Game 2 on Monday night... Rudy Gay scored a team-high 15 points with six rebounds, two assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 22 minutes. He started the second half in place of Kyle Anderson and will need to play very well if the Spurs want any prayer of knocking off Golden State. Anderson was disappointingly quiet. He failed to score a single point and totaled three rebounds and one assist in 11 minutes.

 

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Toronto Raptors 114, Washington Wizards 106:
The entire city of Toronto was able to breathe a massive sigh of relief on Saturday night, as the Raptors were finally able to win Game 1 of a postseason series. The Raps had entered this contest riding a 10-game losing streak in playoff series openers, including six at home, but pulled away late in the fourth quarter to race past the Wizards. Serge Ibaka was surprisingly dominant on both ends of the floor for Toronto, tallying 23 points with 12 rebounds, one assist, two blocks and three 3-pointers in 33 minutes. He shot 8-of-11 from the floor. It’s the first time he’s had more than 21 points and ten rebounds in a game since March 1st of 2017… Fred VanVleet (bruised right shoulder) was ruled out of Game 1. He was injured in Wednesday's regular-season finale and is considered day-to-day. Delon Wright soaked up VanVleet’s minutes and made the most of them. Wright had 18 points, one rebound, four assists, three steals, one block and three 3-pointers 25.

 


DeMar DeRozan struggled from the floor, shooting just 6-of-17 on his way to 17 points, six assists, and two rebounds. Kyle Lowry scored 11 points (on 4-of-9 shooting) with three rebounds, nine assists, two steals and one 3-pointer in 38 minutes. Jonas Valanciunas (nine points and nine boards) just missed a double-double. Toronto knocked down 16 3-pointers, which set a postseason single-game franchise record. C.J. Miles had four treys himself.


John Wall was inefficient offensively, shooting 6-of-20 from the field, but posted an impressive final stat line: 23 points, three rebounds, 15 assists, four steals, two blocks and three 3-pointers in 39 minutes… Markieff Morris also recorded a double-double, finishing with 22 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and one 3-pointer in 38 minutes. He appeared to injure his left ankle late in the fourth quarter. The Wiz were forced to burn a timeout as Morris limped to the bench. However, he returned for the final two minutes… Otto Porter was questionable coming in due to a calf injury, but was cleared to play. He looked a bit limited early on and ended up with nine points, five rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 32 minutes.


Philadelphia 76ers 130, Miami Heat 103:
The Sixers demolished Miami, cruising to an easy Game 1 victory. The star of the show was rookie Ben Simmons, who controlled the game from the opening tip to the final horn. Simmons scored 17 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out 14 assists. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Simmons’ 14 dimes are the second most in NBA history by a player in his playoff debut, trailing Magic Johnson, who had 16 in 1980. Per Basketball-Reference, Simmons is the only player since 1960 with at least 17/14/9 in his first career playoff game… Dario Saric also had a phenomenal all-around performance, tallying 20 points, six rebounds, three assists and four 3-pointers in 31 minutes.


J.J. Redick poured in a game-high 28 points. He shot 8-of-13 from the floor, including 4-of-6 from downtown, and made all eight of his free-throws... Ersan Ilyasova was a beast off the bench. He finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds, three 3-pointers, a steal and a block. The Sixers other late-season addition, Marco Belinelli, was also a significant contributor despite not starting. Belinelli scored 25 points with two rebounds, two assists, three steals and four 3-pointers in 33 minutes. The 130 points scored by Philly was their most in a playoff game since 1986.


In addition to impressive, energizing home victory, Sixer fans also got some good news pertaining to Joel Embiid. The Sixers center said that he believes there is a "pretty good chance" he'll be able to play in Game 2 or 3. "If it was my decision I would play, but I can’t get back out on the court if I don’t have the OK from them," Embiid said before Saturday’s game. "But everything has been going well." Embiid is expected to clear the concussion protocol on Sunday. We should have an update on his status for Monday’s Game 2 later in the afternoon.


There are not many positives to take away from a nearly 30-point blowout, but Kelly Olynyk did all he could to keep this game close. Kelly O scored 26 points, with seven rebounds, two assists, one block and four 3-pointers in 31 minutes off the pine. The only other Miami player to score more than 13 points was Goran Dragic, who finished 15 points, five rebounds, four assists and three 3-pointers in 31 minutes. Dragic missed Wednesday’s regular season finale due to a knee injury, and didn’t quite look 100 percent in this one… Adding drama to a defeat, Hassan Whiteside played just 12 minutes on Saturday, ending up with two points, six rebounds, one assist and two blocks. Whiteside bristled at being benched last month, so we’ll see if he makes any noise before Game 2 on Monday night. This is certainly something to keep an eye on moving forward. It is possible he gets motivated to square off against Joel Embiid once the Masked Man is cleared to return to action.


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