Wednesday gave us wins from the Cavs and Jazz, while the Rockets opened up a 2-0 lead on the Timberwolves. Joel Embiid is doubtful for the Sixers for Game 3 and Kevin Love appears to be OK after thumb injury.
Cavaliers 100, Pacers 97 – Series tied at 1-1– LeBron James went crazy last night, hitting 17-of-24 shots, two 3-pointers and 10-of-13 free throws for 46 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and two steals in Wednesday’s big 100-97 win over the Pacers. This was the 20th 40-point game of LeBron’s playoff career. Victor Oladipo made a bad turnover to J.R. Smith at a crucial point in the game, Oladipo missed a wide-open 3-pointer to tie with 27 seconds left, and the Pacers wasted too much time in their final couple possessions, or this series might be 2-0 in favor of the Pacers, despite LeBron’s heroics. He scored the game’s first 16 points and had 29 by halftime, when the Cavs had a controlling 58-46 lead. The Pacers chipped away in the second half and had some chances to steal the win, but couldn’t put it all together when it mattered. Kevin Love suffered a left thumb injury that forced him from the game, but X-rays were negative and he is expected to be good to go for Game 3 on Friday in Indiana. He finished with 15 points, two 3-pointres and eight rebounds, but hit just 5-of-16 shots on the night. Kyle Korver, who was dealing with a foot issue and some illness, started and scored 12 points with four 3-pointers, but it’s becoming clear that the only fantasy players you can trust from Cleveland, at least in this series, are LeBron and Love. After Korver, the next highest Cavs’ scorer was George Hill, who’s been dealing with a sore back, with six points in 20 minutes. Trust me when I say that the rest of their lineup was fantasy garbage. And looking at the Cavs’ box score, it doesn’t even make sense that they won the game. J.R. Smith also started (Rodney Hood and Jeff Green came off the bench), but had just point on 2-of-5 shooting.
Victor Oladipo hit 9-of-18 shots and a couple 3-pointers for 22 points, three boards, six assists, and two steals for the Pacers, but didn’t play particularly well in the clutch. In fact, my buddy, Zach, who is more of an NFL guy, said to me after watching Oladipo dribble for most of the final two minutes: “Is he a rookie?” I said, “No, he’s a fourth-year player.” Zach’s reply was “Doesn’t look like it,” which was an accurate assessment. I’m not mad at Oladipo and the Pacers weren’t likely to win in the final minute, but after watching Reggie Miller drop eight points in nine seconds against the Knicks in 1995, we were holding out hope. Myles Turner came through with 18 points, five rebounds and a 3-pointer, but didn’t have a steal or a block, Darren Collison added 16 points, five rebounds, six assists, a steal and two 3-pointers (one of which was a big one in the closing minutes), and Lance Stephenson had 10 points, four boards and three assists in 24 minutes off the bench. This series is tied at 1-1 and Game 3 is in Indiana on Friday.
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Jazz 102, Thunder 95 – Series tied 1-1 – Rookie Donovan Mitchell was questionable coming into this one with a bruised left foot, but came through with 28 points and scored 13 of those in the decisive fourth quarter, when the Jazz made up a 10-point deficit to win the game. He hit just 10-of-25 shots and missed all seven of his 3-pointers, but did have six rebounds, two assists and a steal in the win. Derrick Favors had career playoff highs of 20 points and 16 rebounds, not too mention a couple 3-pointers, three assists and a steal, and Ricky Rubio added 22 points, five 3-pointers, nine assists and seven rebounds in the first playoff win of his seven-year career. Rudy Gobert also came through with 13 points, 15 rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks, while Jonas Jerebko came off the bench for 10 points and five rebounds in 13 minutes. Gobert shoots better at home than he does on the road, so he should be even better in Games 3 and 4. Joe Ingles was the fantasy disappointment for the Jazz, hitting just 1-of-6 shots for three points, two rebounds, two assists and a 3-pointer. I used him in a DFS league, and it hurt. The Jazz should be fully healthy heading into Saturday’s Game 3 at Utah.
Russell Westbrook hit just 7-of-19 shots, Paul George (playing through a hip injury) hit 6-of-21 shots and Carmelo Anthony hit 6-of-18 shots in the loss. Westbrook finished with 19 points, nine rebounds, 13 assists, four steals and two 3-pointers, George had 18 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks and four 3-pointers, and Melo added 17 points, nine rebounds, a steal and two 3-pointers. Those are all pretty good numbers for guys shooting it so poorly, but the reality is that they lost the game because their shots weren’t going down. Steven Adams was not only dealing with a sore right wrist, but was also in early foul trouble before being disqualified with just under three minutes to go, finishing with nine points and seven rebounds. Jerami Grant had 13 points and six boards off the bench, but the Thunder are going to need better shooting from Westbrook and George if they’re going to win Game 3 in Utah on Saturday. George and Adams should be good to go for Saturday.
Rockets 102, Timberwolves 82 – Rockets lead series 2-0 – The Rockets used a 37-17 second quarter to destroy the Timberwolves on Wednesday, despite an off night from James Harden. Chris Paul led the way with 27 points, three rebounds, eight assists, three steals, a block and three 3-pointers on 10-of-18 shooting in the win. Gerald Green hit five 3-pointers and 7-of-17 shots for 21 points, 12 rebounds and a block, and Trevor Ariza came through with 15 points, five rebounds, one steal and three 3-pointers on 5-of-14 shooting. As for Harden, it was possibly the worst game of his career. He hit just 2-of-18 shots and 1-of-10 3-pointers for 12 points, four rebounds, seven assists, three steals and three blocks in 31 minutes. The peripheral stats salvaged a nice fantasy line for the likely MVP, but he’s never looked like this on national television, as far as I know. Clint Capela had just eight points and one block, but also had 16 rebounds in the win, while the rest of the Rockets are forgettable. Green only had four points in Game 1 and is far from trustworthy, while Eric Gordon hit just 3-of-13 shots and 2-of-10 3-pointers for nine points and four rebounds in Game 2. Gordon only had seven points on 3-of-10 shooting in Game 1, and is 6-of-23 in the series. I hate to say it, but Green is more trustworthy right now. Given all of the above information, the fact the Rockets dominated the game and won by 20 is slightly disturbing, especially after Sunday’s three-point win. Ryan Anderson (ankle) sat this one out, but is expected to play on Saturday, not that it matters.
Karl-Anthony Towns struggled once again, hitting 2-of-9 shots for five points, 10 rebounds, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer. He’s hit 5-of-18 shots and scored a total of 13 points in the first two games of this series. I fully expect him to explode in Game 3 in Minnesota on Saturday, despite the fact Chuck Barkley says he needs to get in the gym this summer and learn how to play. Really? He’s struggled mightily in the playoffs thus far, but like I said, he’ll get it right before this is over. Care to guess who led the Timberwolves in scoring in one of the most important games in franchise history? Nemanja Bjelica is the answer, as he hit 5-of-9 shots and two 3-pointers for 16 points, eight rebounds and two steals in just 19 minutes. Really? Andrew Wiggins hit just 6-of-14 shots for 13 points, eight boards, three assists, a steal and a block, and Jimmy Butler was 3-of-6 with a 3-pointer for 11 points, four boards and two assists in the loss. Jeff Teague was in foul trouble and played just 19 minutes, and there was absolutely nothing to love about the Wolves’ box score this weekend. Maybe they can figure this out and get a couple wins at home, starting on Saturday in Game 3.
Joel Embiid, Warriors Injury Report and other news
Joel Embiid has been listed as doubtful for Thursday’s Game 3 due to his orbital bone fracture. I think he’s a game-time call and after Embiid’s Insta about being “sick and tired of being babied,” I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays with the series tied at 1-1 and Game 3 in Miami.
David West (ankle) is available for Thursday’s Game 3 and JaVale McGee (quad) is questionable for Game 3. If McGee is out, Zaza Pachulia looks like your starting center for the Warriors, while Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell would see a boost in minutes.
The Wizards are considering benching Marcin Gortat and Mike Scott looks like the guy who might replace him. Scott had 20 points in Game 2 and would be an intriguing DFS option on Friday, if he’s starting.
Nikola Mirotic is not on the injury report for the Pelicans after spraining his left ankle twice in Game 2. It sounds like he’s good to go.
Joffrey Lauvergne (personal) is out for the Spurs in Game 3, not that it matters.
And lastly, a shout out to Gregg Popovich for the loss of his wife, Erin. She passed away on Wednesday. Our condolences are with the Popovich family and Spurs’ organization.