Steve Alexander

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: LeBron tends to Cavs win

Thursday, April 26, 2018


LeBron James took things to another level in a thrilling Game 5 win over the Pacers on Wednesday, Utah tried to embarrass the Thunder, but ran into a Russell Westbrook second-half buzzsaw, the Rockets ran away from the Timberwolves in blowout fashion to advance to the Western Semifinals and the Raptors handled the Wizards to take a 3-2 lead in their series. Props to @getatwhig for the headline help, and follow me on Twitter by clicking here!

 

Cavaliers 98, Pacers 95 – Cavs lead 3-2, Game 6 in Indy on Friday – This was clearly the game of the night, as the Cavaliers overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to outscore the Pacers 32-17 in the third quarter, but the Pacers battled back in the fourth to make it a coin flip at the end. Domantas Sabonis hit a 14-footer for the Pacers with 33.6 second remaining to tie the game at 95, and then with 26.3 second remaining, LeBron had the ball swatted out of bounds on the baseline, giving it back to the Pacers for a chance to win. I thought it was a bad call, as the ball didn’t hit LeBron until it had already landed out of bounds off of Indy, but the officials saw it differently. Then things got interesting, as Victor Oladipo drove to the rack for a layup attempt, but LeBron tracked him down and pulled off a spectacular, yet controversial block with just 3.3 seconds remaining. Yes, the ball hit the backboard first, but the officials didn’t see it (it wasn’t obvious to the naked eye,) meaning it wasn’t reviewable since it wasn’t called a goal tend on the floor. So after making a remarkable, game-saving play on the defensive end of the court, LeBron took the inbounds pass at the other end, took a couple dribbles and hit an amazing, fadeaway 3-pointer as the horn sounded to end the game and give the Cavs a 98-95 win, along with a 3-2 lead in the series. The Pacers had a foul to give and I still don’t know how they allowed the ball to be inbounded to LeBron, but it happened and he made the Pacers pay – dearly. And whether you love him or hate him, he just keeps being great.

 

The celebration that ensued for the Cavs probably should have been reserved for a series win, but then again, what happened wasn’t exactly normal, or something you see every day. LeBron finished with 44 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer, hitting 14-of-24 shots and 15-of-15 free throws. In a career full of clutch performances, this one may go down as No. 1 on his list, and I would have bet a lot of money that if he shot 15 free throws in this game, he wouldn’t have made them all. Kyle Korver scored 19 with five 3-pointers and six boards, Kevin Love added 11 points, 10 boards and a 3-pointer on 2-of-11 shooting, and the rest of the Cavaliers were simply board-game pieces. Or, maybe they were bored game pieces – take your pick. J.R. Smith was particularly bad, missing all eight of his shots and failing to score. Jose Calderon started for George Hill, who was out again with back spasms, and six points, zero assists and two steals, but did hit a huge 3-pointer late in the game.

 

For the Pacers, Domantas Sabonis came off the bench to lead the way with 22 points, five boards, two assists and a steal on 8-of-12 shooting, but the starters didn’t play quite as well. Thaddeus Young led the way with 16 points and six rebounds on 8-of-9 shooting, Victor Oladipo hit just 2-of-15 shots for 12 points, but also had 12 rebounds, four assists, a steal and a 3-pointer, and Bojan Bogdanovic added 11 points and three 3-pointers in the loss. Myles Turner continued his disappointing ways with just eight points, three rebounds and two blocks in 21 minutes, attempting only three shots. While Young has been great in this series, keeping the Pacers in every game, Dipo’s shot just isn’t falling. He’s hit just 12-of-50 shots in his last three games, good for 24 percent shooting. A knowledgeable buddy of mine told me on Sunday that Oladipo was overrated and I told him he was crazy. But I really don’t have an argument to stand behind after his shooting performance over the last three games. The Pacers will need him to not only step up in Game 6 in Indiana on Friday, but he’ll really have to bring his ‘A Game’ in Sunday’s Game 7, assuming we get that far. This series has been as advertised, but the Cavs have homecourt advantage and appear to be in control, despite winning their three games by a total of just 10 points.

 

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Thunder 107, Utah 99 – Utah lead 3-2, Game 6 in Utah on Friday – The Thunder were down 25 early in the third quarter after trailing by 22 at halftime, but Russell Westbrook went beast-mode and put his team on his back, racking up 45 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists and five 3-pointers on 17-of-39 shooting. His second-half performance was pretty epic (20 points in the third quarter, killer instinct in the fourth), although it will be an afterthought after what we watched LeBron do earlier in the night. Paul George came through with 34 points, eight boards, two assists, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers on 12-of-26 shooting, Carmelo Anthony (yawn) scored seven points, and Steven Adams scored six with six boards and two steals in the win. Game 6 is Friday in Utah, and the Thunder will need more than just Westbrook and George if they’re going to get back to OKC for Sunday’s Game 7. The Thunder’s 25-point comeback win resulted in the third largest comeback in the history of the playoffs.

 

The Jazz were in control early, bolstered by a 22-12 second quarter, but were outscored 37-22 in the third (thank, Westbrook), and 29-21 in the fourth quarter in what turned out to be an anticlimactic ending. Jae Crowder somehow led the way with 27 points, eight boards and six 3-pointers off the bench, but went cold in the fourth quarter. Donovan Mitchell had 23 points and a full stat line, while starters Derrick Favors, Joe Ingles, Rudy Gobert and Ricky Rubio all scored in double figures. Gobert and Rubio double-doubled, but the legendary Utah defense didn’t have an answer for Westbrook and George in the second half. If the Thunder somehow win Game 6 at Utah, I don’t see how Utah will beat them in Game 7 in front of a frenzied crowd in OKC. If this one goes seven games, it should be a pretty epic finale.

 

Rockets 122, Timberwolves 104 – Rockets win series 4-1 – The Rockets were down four at halftime but blew it open with a 30-15 third quarter, and then held their ground in the fourth quarter. Clint Capela led the way with 26 points, 15 rebounds and a block on 12-of-14 shooting (he won’t get enough credit), and James Harden hit 8-of-21 shots and four 3-pointers for 24 points, five rebounds, 12 assists, two steals and two blocks. Shockingly, Harden only got to the line four times, hitting all four of them. Trevor Ariza had 16 points and four 3-pointers, P.J. Tucker finally came to life and hit five 3-pointers on his way to 15 points, and Chris Paul quietly added 12 points, five rebounds and nine assists, going 0-for-8 from downtown in the win. CP3 got into it with Jamal Crawford after Crawford bowled him over, but that just seemed to fire Harden and Capela up. Eric Gordon came through off the bench with 19 points and three 3-pointers, and the Rockets will await the winner of the Utah-OKC series to find out whom they’ll play in the semifinals. If nothing else, the Rockets looked like the No. 1 seed in the West, although I kind of wish they were going to play the Pelicans instead. Then again, the Pelicans vs. the Warriors should be pretty entertaining in its own right.

 

The Wolves got 23 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, a block and a 3-pointer from Karl-Anthony Towns, who was highly disappointing in the playoffs, and Jeff Teague added 17 points, seven assists and three 3-pointers. The rest of the Wolves didn’t have much to write home about from their fishing boat. Jamal Crawford had 20 and two 3-pointers off the bench, while starters Taj Gibson and Andrew Wiggins hit double digits in scoring. Jimmy Butler was probably the disappointment of the night, hitting just 4-of-10 shots for eight points, five boards, five dimes, a steal and a block. He had a huge icepack on his knee while on the bench and may not have been feeling 100 percent, but he’ll have the whole summer to get back to 100 percent health.

 

Raptors 108, Wizards 98 – Raptors lead 3-2, Game 6 in Washington on Friday – To be honest, I didn’t have a chance to see this game, but I don’t feel ripped off, as the Raptors pulled away in a close game in the fourth quarter. DeMar DeRozan led the way with 32 points, five assists and three 3-pointers on 12-of-24 shooting, Kyle Lowry double-doubled with 17 points, 10 assists, three steals and three 3-pointers, and Jonas Valanciunas added 14 points, 13 boards, a steal and two blocks in the win. Delon Wright came through off the bench with 18 points, five boards, one assist, two steals, a block and two 3-pointers on 6-of-10 shooting, further demonstrating why the Rotoworld hoops crew loves him. Fred VanVleet was out again with his shoulder injury, which helps Wright’s fantasy cause. 

 

The Wizards lost despite a monster line from John Wall, who finished with 26 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, a steal and three blocks on 10-of-21 shooting. Bradley Beal added 20 points and three 3-pointers, Kelly Oubre scored 14 points on 3-of-11 shooting off the bench, and Marcin Gortat came through with 10 points, 12 rebounds and a block. Otto Porter Jr. and Markieff Morris both scored in single digits and Morris hasn’t managed to score more than seven points in his last four games, which is a problem for the Wizards.

 

The Raptors will look to close out the series in Washington in Friday’s Game 6, and will try to do it again in Sunday’s Game 7 in Canada if unsuccessful in the Capitol.

 

Thursday only gives us one game, but it should be a doozy, as the Celtics will try to close out the Bucks in Milwaukee at 8 p.m. on TNT.

 

Lastly, Mike Budenholzer and the Hawks agreed to part ways on Wednesday, while Coach Bud also withdrew his name from consideration with the Suns. Apparently, he has no interest in coaching young, messy teams, even though both of them have some nice pieces in place. Stephen Silas (Hornets), Nate Tibbetts (Blazers), David Vanterpool (Blazers), Ime Udoka (Spurs) and James Borrego (Spurs) are all possible Bud replacements in ATL, according to Adrian Wojnarowski. 



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.
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