Steve Alexander

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Chris Paul going to WCF

Wednesday, May 9, 2018


The Rockets finished off the Jazz as Chris Paul posted an epic performance and Donovan Mitchell (sadly) got hurt, and the Warriors held off a late Pelicans comeback on Tuesday, setting up a date between the Rockets and Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

 

Rockets 112, Jazz 102Chris Paul had a game for the ages, racking up a career playoff-high 41 points, seven rebounds, 10 assists, a steal, eight 3-pointers and zero turnovers in 38 minutes of Tuesday’s series-clinching 112-102 win over the Jazz, taking the series 4-1. CP3 was amazing and has been for three games, logging 104 minutes, 22 dimes and just one turnover over that stretch. Paul is the first player to post a line with 40 points, 10 assists and zero turnovers in a playoff game since turnovers became an official stat in 1977. Paul’s lack of turnovers is a key for the Rockets and he’s going to have to keep that trend going against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. Additionally, this is his first trip to the Conference Finals in his long career, and he sounded like he was a little choked up in his post-game interview.

 

James Harden hit just 7-of-22 shots and 1-of-7 3-pointers for 18 points, four boards, four assists and two steals, and he’s going to have to play better against the streaking Warriors in the WCF. P.J. Tucker was nice with 19 points, six boards, three blocks and five 3-pointers, and knocked down 7-of-9 shots. He’ll also likely have to step up his game and stay hot against the Dubs. Clint Capela was quiet with just five points and five boards, but came through with the fantasy gold in the form of three steals and five blocks. The rest of the Rockets were pretty quiet during Tuesday’s game, as Paul was doing everything in the fourth quarter, including dropping 20 points on the Jazz.

 

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The Jazz had a pretty balanced attack in the loss, as four of the five starters scored in double digits and Alec Burks came through off the bench. Donovan Mitchell, who scored 22 points in the third quarter, finished with 24 points, four rebounds, nine assists, a steal and two 3-pointers. He also hurt his left foot in a collision with James Harden with about seven minutes left in the game, and didn’t return. He did, however, return to the bench in a flip-flop to support his teammates, and was wearing a walking boot and limping when he left the arena, although X-rays were negative. I really hope he’s not seriously injured, as his rookie season was a blast to watch, and the fact he’s wearing a walking boot sounds a lot better to me than walking on crutches with his knee wrapped in ice. He averaged 24.4 points in this postseason, which is the fifth-highest ever by a rookie who played in at least 10 playoff games, and the outcome of last night’s game might have been different had he not suffered the injury.  

 

Burks came off the bench for 22 points, three rebounds, five assists, a steal and three 3-pointers, and did an admirable job of filling in for Ricky Rubio (hamstring). This series might have been extended if Rubio wasn’t hurt, but the Rockets still would have likely won, regardless. Royce O’Neale came through with 17 points, a steal and a 3-pointer on 6-of-10 shooting, Joe Ingles had a fantasy-friendly line of 12 points, five boards, six dimes and two 3-pointers, and Rudy Gobert added 12 points, nine boards, a steal and five blocks in the loss. Jae Crowder was a disappointment with just six points, eight boards, a steal and a 3-pointer, and hit just 2-of-11 points in the loss. The Jazz are going fishing, while the Rockets will prepare for the Warriors.

 

Warriors 113, Pelicans 104 – The Warriors built a 26-point lead at one point during a 36-19 third quarter, but the Pelicans won the fourth 29-18 and went on an 18-2 run to cut the lead to seven, which did nothing more than make the final score respectable as the Warriors closed it out with a 4-1 win. They’ve won 15 straight home playoff games, tying the NBA record set by the 90-91 Bulls, and will now face the Rockets in the Western Conference Finals, which most of us are going to treat as the actual NBA Finals. Then again, LeBron James is on a mission and Brad Stevens is a freaking genius, so we’ll see what happens.

 

Stephen Curry is getting back up to speed and led the way with 28 points, seven boards, eight assists, a steal and three 3-pointers on 10-of-16 shooting, Kevin Durant added 24 points, six rebounds, seven assists, two steals and a 3-pointer on 10-of-18 shooting, and Klay Thompson came through with 23 points, six boards, three assists, a steal and two 3-pointers in the win.

 

Draymond Green just missed a triple-double with 19 points, 14 rebounds, nine assists, three steals, two blocks and a 3-pointer, and hit a couple clutch shots down the stretch to help hold off the streaking Pelicans. The Warriors bench was negligible and JaVale McGee didn’t play. Charles Barkley says the Warriors will take the Rockets in no more than five games, but I took the Rockets to win it all before the playoffs started, and think this series is going to be a war. Curry played 37 minutes and looks to be fully recovered from his knee injury, just in time.

 

The Pelicans got another monster game from Anthony Davis with 34 points, 19 rebounds, a steal, four blocks and a 3-pointer on 13-of-26 shooting, and Jrue Holiday’s triple-double of 27 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists was wasted in the loss. The rest of the Pelicans weren’t particularly effective and it’s become pretty clear that it takes more than two studs to beat the Warriors. Nikola Mirotic had 12 points, seven boards and three 3-pointers, E’Twaun Moore cooled off with 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting, and Playoff Rondo looked a lot more like Rajon Rondo last night with seven points, two rebounds, seven dimes, three steals and a 3-pointer on 3-of-7 shooting, although he was said to be dealing with a groin injury in the second half. Maybe things would have been different for the Pelicans if DeMarcus Cousins didn’t rupture his Achilles, but odds are this series would have ended in five games, either way.

 

If you’re not excited for the Western Conference Finals, you might want to check yourself for a pulse. The first two games take place on Monday and Wednesday at Houston. In the East, the Sixers will visit Boston for Game 5 on Wednesday. Game 6, if necessary, will happen in Philly on Friday, and Game 7, if necessary, would take place on Sunday in Boston. The Cavaliers are resting and waiting to see whom they’ll play in the Eastern Conference Finals, although the odds are pretty heavily in the Celtics’ favor at this point.  



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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