The playoffs are here! The playoffs are here! I’m really mad right now, as I lost this document the first time I wrote it. So here we go again. Today’s Dose will preview the Saturday NBA playoff games, and since there were no NBA games on Thursday or Friday, we really only have Saturday to look forward to. Let’s go! Dose will be back again on Sunday morning, and every other night throughout the playoffs.
No. 7 Spurs at No. 2 Warriors ABC 3 p.m. – The Spurs will likely be without Kawhi Leonard (quad) for the entirety of the playoffs, not that the Spurs will be alive for much longer that that. LaMarcus Aldridge, Rudy Gay and Pau Gasol should lead the way for San Antonio, while Dejounte Murray, Tony Parker, Patty Mills, Danny Green and Manu Ginobili should all be decent fantasy options. Bryn Forbes, Davis Bertans and Kyle Anderson should also make some noise, but without Leonard, I just don’t see how the Spurs will hang with the high-paced Warriors in this one.
Stephen Curry is not likely to play in the first round due to his knee injury, as Quinn Cook should run the point for the Warriors, at least in Round 1. Despite not having Curry, they still have Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, and will also get contributions from Nick Young, Andre Iguodala, Jordan Bell, Kevon Looney and JaVale McGee. Iguodala (knee) went through practice on Thursday and should be good to go on Saturday. I’ve got the Warriors in five games, although I’m thinking I should have said ‘six games,’ instead.
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No. 8 Wizards at No. 1 Raptors ESPN 5:30 p.m. – The Wizards got a monster game from John Wall last Tuesday, when he went off for a near triple-double and a full stat line. Wall should be in midseason form, despite sitting out the regular-season finale. Otto Porter is hurting with a right calf strain, and is quite questionable for Saturday’s Game 1. If he’s out, Kelly Oubre should shine, while the Wizards will rely heavily on Wall, Bradley Beal, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat in this series. I can also see Tomas Satoransky, Oubre and Mike Scott making some noise, although Scott is iffy with a concussion. Either way, the only Wizards I trust right now are Wall, Beal, Morris, Oubre and maybe Gortat.
The Raptors will look to DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka for their offense, while their bench might be worthy of the Sixth Man of the Year Award. Fred VanVleet, who shined at times this season, is iffy for Game 1 with a shoulder injury, meaning that both Delon Wright and Norman Powell might do something off the bench for the Raptors. Additionally, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Jakob Poeltl could all make some noise. They’re the deepest team in the league and I’ve got the Raptors in six games. And yes, I’m overlooking the Raptors in Round 2 like a lot of other critics.
No. 6 Miami at No. 3 Sixers ESPN 8 p.m. – The Heat should be at full strength, minus Dion Waiters (ankle), as Goran Dragic, Josh Richardson, Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside, Wayne Ellington, James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk should lead the way against the Sixers. Tyler Johnson, Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo might all do something off the bench, but I don’t really trust any of them in the playoffs. Ellington is probably the most interesting player here after scoring 32 points with eight 3-pointers in Wednesday’s finale. However, the Heat may not lean on him quite as heavily in the playoffs, especially since Wade looks fine-tuned and focused for the postseason.
Joel Embiid has been ruled out for Game 1 with his orbital injury, but there’s a chance he’ll play in Game 2 of the series on Monday, likely wearing a mask. Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Robert Covington, J.J. Redick (back, probable) and Marco Belinelli should all be solid first-round fantasy plays, while Ersan Ilyasova, Markelle Fultz and Richaun Holmes should also be worth a look in fantasy. If the Sixers can survive Rounds 1 & 2 vs. the Heat and the winner of Celtics/Bucks, getting Embiid back for Round 2 or 3 would give them an excellent chance to knock off the Cavaliers (or whoever) and advance to the Finals. For the record, I have the Cavaliers making it to the Eastern Conference Finals over Philly, but I’ve got the Sixers beating the Heat in six games. And the more I think about it, the more I wished I took the Sixers over the Cavs in the Eastern Finals.
No. 6 Pelicans at No. 3 Blazers ESPN 10:30 p.m. – I wonder what the Pelicans would be looking like with a healthy DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) right now, but it is what it is. Anthony Davis is obviously the leader of this team, both in fantasy and reality, while Jrue Holiday, Nikola Mirotic (on fire), Rajon Rondo, E’Twaun Moore and Darius Miller should also make some noise in the playoffs. Mirotic has been on a tear, averaging 25.8 points, 12.0 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 4.0 3-pointers over his last five games. If he stays hot in the playoffs, anything is possible, although I’ve got the Pelicans with or without a hot Mirotic.
Moe Harkless has been ruled out for Game 1 after knee surgery, but after that it’s anyone’s guess as to when he’ll play. He’s not all that fantasy friendly, but is a key component for the Blazers, largely in part to his defensive presence. Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic are the must-play fantasy studs for the Blazers, while Al-Farouq Aminu, Evan Turner, Shabazz Napier, Ed Davis and Zach Collins might also be worth a look. I just think that Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Rajon Rondo and Nikola Mirotic will be too much for the Blazers to overcome, so I’ve got the Pelicans in six games.
Enjoy the NBA Playoffs! Let’s Go!