Steve Alexander

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Who's that masked man?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


The Sixers and Warriors are advancing to the semifinals, the Heat and Spurs are going fishing, and the Celtics beat the Bucks on Tuesday and will look to close out that series at Milwaukee on Thursday, sitting on a 3-2 lead.

 

Sixers 104, Heat 91 – Sixers win series 4-1 – Rapper Meek Mill is out of jail and was at the Sixers game on Tuesday, along with a bunch of other celebrities, and they were treated to a Sixers win, and will now watch their team take on the Celtics or Bucks in the Eastern Semifinals. This is Philly’s first trip to the semis since 2012. J.J. Redick led the way with 27 points, five 3-pointers and two assists, but didn’t do anything else. That only matters in fantasy, and the Sixers are happy to let him hang out in 3-point land, drop some shots and score some points, and for his teammates to do the dirty work and heavy lifting for the Sixers.

 

Joel Embiid played in his third straight game and had 19 points, 12 rebounds, two steals and a block on 8-of-14 shooting, while Ben Simmons added 14 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two steals and a block on 4-of-10 shooting. Dario Saric had an off night with eight points on 2-of-9 shooting, missing all five of his 3-pointers, but also had five rebounds and five assists. Robert Covington had 10 points, five boards, three assists and two 3-pointers to round out the box score for the starters. Embiid might be able to shed his mask in the next series and it feels like he's just getting ready to take off in the playoffs.

 

The bench was rather quiet, but Ersan Ilyasova had five points, 10 boards, four assists and two steals in 32 minutes, and Marco Belinelli hit 4-of-12 shots for 11 points, three boards and three assists. The only team favored over the Sixers to win the East is the Raptors, and it’s a very narrow margin. The Sixers are hoping to ride the upset wave started by the Villanova Wildcats with their NCAA championship earlier this month and Philly is rocking tonight.

 

The Heat only got seven minutes out of Josh Richardson, who is dealing with a shoulder injury. He started and was expected to play heavy minutes, but picked up two quick fouls, went to the bench, and then picked up his third foul just after returning to the game, and went back to the bench for good just after. It’s a shame his season is ending on a such a low note (zero points) after his great regular season, and he’s now trade eligible for the first time since signing an extension last offseason, not that the Heat are going to necessarily trade him. Hassan Whiteside played just 10 minutes and had two points, five rebounds and a block on 0-of-4 shooting. He was an absolute disaster in four of the five games in this series, mainly because the Heat just chose to roll with Kelly Olynyk instead of Whiteside. There’s an obvious rift between Whiteside, the coaching staff and management, and his future is very cloudy in Miami. Olynyk was nice with 18 points to lead the team in scoring, and added eight boards, six dimes, three steals, a block and a 3-pointer, and it’s not out of the question that he could be the starting center in Miami next season. Dwyane Wade had 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting and is contemplating retirement, although a decision is not expected any time soon. Given the way the season ended, my guess is he’s going to shut it down.

 

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Warriors 99, Spurs 91 – Warriors win series 4-1Stephen Curry (knee) is getting closer, but still wasn’t ready for Game 5. Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green carried the load for the Warriors, although the Spurs didn’t go quietly. Kevin Durant scored 10 of 12 points down the stretch for the Warriors, until they finally put the Spurs away, and hit a huge two-point jumper in traffic, and then sealed the deal with a pair of free throws. He hit 35-of-37 free throws in the series, 8-of-8 of them in this game, and finished with 25 points, six rebounds, five assists, one steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer in the win. Green had 17 points and a playoff career-high 19 rebounds, seven assists and two 3-pointers, and Klay Thompson hit 11-of-22 shots and a 3-pointer for 24 points, five boards, four assists and a block in the win. They’ll get the Pelicans in the Western Semifinals, which starts on Saturday, and I cannot wait to watch this series. 

 

The Spurs got a heroic performance from LaMarcus Aldridge, who came to life in the fourth quarter. He had a three-point play and a pair of free throws to cut the Warriors lead to just two points with 57 seconds remaining, but then Durant put the game away with clutch play. Aldridge finished with 30 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, a steal and hit 14-of-14 free throws in the season-ending loss. Patty Mills scored 18 with four 3-pointers, and Kyle Anderson and Manu Ginobili each scored 10 points. Ginobili and Tony Parker (four points on 2-of-7 shooting in 14 minutes) are both considering retirement and Charles Barkley thinks both of them are done. And I agree with that sentiment. Pau Gasol was 0-for-3 for one point and six boards in just 18 minutes, Danny Green was 0-for-5 and failed to score in his 16 minutes, and Rudy Gay hit just 4-of-15 shots for nine points. It’s a bit shocking that the Spurs were still in the game late, but it was mostly due to Aldridge refusing to give up.

 

Celtics 92, Bucks 87 – Celtics lead 3-2 – The Celtics controlled this game from the start and it never really felt like the Bucks would win, but had Giannis Antetokounmpo been more aggressive, things might have ended differently. More on Giannis in a minute. Al Horford came through with 22 points, 14 rebounds, two blocks and two 3-pointers, Terry Rozier added 16 points, three boards, five assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers, and Jaylen Brown had 14 points, six rebounds, two assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers on 5-of-13 shooting. Jayson Tatum was quiet with eight points, three boards, four assists and a 3-pointer, hitting just 2-of-7 shots, while Marcus Morris had 10 points, eight rebounds, two assists, a steal and a 3-pointer in 26 minutes. I’m a bit surprised at how important Morris has become to the Celtics, but he's become a key piece off the bench - especially when Tatum's not rolling. Perhaps the star of the night for Boston was Marcus Smart, who played for the first time since March 11 after thumb surgery. He hit just 2-of-7 shots, but hit 5-of-5 free throws and finished with nine points, five rebounds, four assists, a steal and three blocks in the win. He also had an incredible pass to Horford for a layup while lying on his back in a heap of bodies. Game 6 is in Milwaukee on Thursday, and this thing feels like it’s going seven games.

 

The Bucks got 23 points and three 3-pointers from Khris Middleton, 17 points, eight boards, a steal and two 3-pointers from Jabari Parker, and 16 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals, a block and two 3-pointers from Eric “Drew” Bledsoe, who hit just 5-of-15 shots. Not surprisingly, Bledsoe and Terry “Who?” Rozier got into a mini fracas, and it’s probably not the last time we’ll see them try to start a fight with each other. Their stat lines were almost identical, but Rozier got the win tonight. And then there’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had a nice stat line with 16 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, two steals and two blocks, but he took just 10 shots, which I’m having trouble wrapping my head around. He said after the game that he had some open looks, but they weren’t “his shots.” Either way, if you have Giannis on your team and he only gets 10 shots in 41 minutes, it’s pretty easy to see why your team lost. He says he’s going to be more aggressive on Thursday, and it would be shocking if he doesn’t take closer to 20 shots in that one. The simple fact of the matter is, if Giannis isn’t leading the Bucks in shots taken, the chances of them winning start declining quickly. Game 6 is the only game in town on Thursday night and it should be fun watching Rozier and Bledsoe messing with each other, and Giannis trying to score 40 points. Let’s go!



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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