Miami secures Game 7 victory, Toronto up next.
Goran Dragic paved the way to a series-clinching Game 7 blowout victory over the Hornets on Sunday, tallying a game-high 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting to go with six boards, four assists, two 3-pointers, one block and two turnovers through 32 minutes of action. Dragic had been relatively quiet in the six prior games, but he stepped up under the pressure and took on a key role on offense with his 30.0 usage rate. The Heat are now scheduled for a second-round meeting with the Raptors, which will begin on Tuesday, which unfortunately isn’t all that great of a matchup for Dragic. Through three regular-season games against Toronto this season, Dragic only managed to compile averages of 11.0 points, 5.7 assists, 3.7 boards and 2.3 turnovers per game on 38.9 percent shooting. In general, I don’t feel that Dragic will be a great guy to target during Miami’s second-round series.
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Hassan Whiteside also did his part in the Miami win, compiling 10 points, 12 boards and five swats in 28 minutes. In Whiteside’s three regular-season games against the Raptors, he registered averages of 13.7 points, 11.7 boards and 4.7 blocks per contest, so he figures to have a nice second-round series.
Luol Deng continued to rack up the stats, contributing 15 points, eight boards, four assists, two triples and two turnovers to the box score through 27 minutes of action. However, Deng does have a much tougher matchup waiting for him in the second-round, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a slight dip in production from his first-round averages of 19.0 points, 6.6 boards, 2.1 assists and 2.9 triples per game on 54.1 percent shooting.
Joe Johnson was relatively quite through the first-round, owning averages of 10.7 points, 4.3 boards, 2.9 assists, 1.4 triples and 1.9 turnovers per game on 45.9 percent shooting. However, out of the Miami starters, Johnson will be drawing the most favorable matchup in Miami’s second-round series against the Raptors, and I expect his numbers to improve in Round 2. In three regular-season games against Toronto, Johnson put in averages of 18.3 points, 3.7 boards, 4.3 assists, 2.7 triples and 3.0 turnovers on 55.0 percent shooting.
Tyler Johnson (shoulder) also got back on the court for the first time since January, and contributed five points, two assists, one board and one triple in his six minutes off the bench. Johnson didn’t enter the game until garbage time, and with Josh Richardson clearly ahead of him in the rotation, there’s no need to pay Johnson any mind in fantasy hoops.
As for the Hornets, basically everyone on the team struggled mightily during the Game 7 loss, with only Frank Kaminsky (12), Courtney Lee (11) and Nicolas Batum (10) hitting double-figures in the scoring department. Kemba Walker connected on just 3-of-16 shots on his way to nine points, six assists, two rebounds, one steal, one 3-pointers and three turnovers in 36 minutes, while Al Jefferson only managed to contribute four points, two boards, one assist and two turnovers in his 19 minutes of floor time. The Hornets could look very different next season with Big Al, Batum, Marvin Williams, Courtney Lee, Jeremy Lamb and Jeremy Lin all bound for free agency, so it’s tough to make a prediction about what Walker will be able to do next year after putting up steady top-20 value throughout the entire 2015-16 season. I will say that the addition of Batum was likely the largest factor in Walker’s improved play, so if Batum is not retained by the Hornets, I’ll be leery of spending an early-round selection on Kemba during next year’s drafts.
Steve Clifford revealed after the game that Marvin Williams had been playing through a “significant elbow injury” through Charlotte’s first-round series, which can probably help explain why he only managed to shoot 27.5 percent from the field in seven games against Miami. Williams was one of the more surprising guys to emerge as a mid-round talent this season, and he definitely earned himself a hefty payday as an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He’ll be worth a late mid-round selection on draft day next year if he remains with the Hornets, but I’m skeptical that he’ll be able to repeat this year’s production with another coach on a different team.
Raptors advance to the second-round for first time since 2001
DeMar DeRozan helped lead the Raptors to a Game 7 win over the Pacers in the most DeMar DeRozan way possible, posting a ridiculous usage rate of 41.7 while launching 32 shots and connecting on just 10 of them to go with 30 points, five boards, two assists, three steals, two blocks and one trey-bomb in 40 minutes. Efficiency is not often a word that pairs well with DeRozan, and with an even tougher matchup against Dwyane Wade and a tough Miami defense awaiting him in the second-round, I’m not confident he can turnaround his inefficient ways.
Kyle Lowry’s shooting woes continued during the Game 7 win, as he hit just 5-of-14 shots on his way to 11 points, although he still managed to make a meaningful contribution to the box score with nine assists, four boards and a steal in his 37 minutes of floor time. Things won’t exactly be getting easier for Lowry in the second-round, but he’ll need to be more aggressive and efficient if the Raptors hope to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. For what it’s worth, Lowry compiled averages of 16.8 points, 5.0 boards, 5.0 assists, 1.8 treys, 2.3 steals and 2.3 turnovers through four regular-season games against the Heat, so I do see him contributing better numbers during Toronto’s second-round series.
Jonas Valanciunas hauled in 15 boards during the Game 7 win, to go with 10 points, one assist, one block and one turnover in 28 minutes. Miami is a tough defensive team, but JV has the most favorable matchup amongst any of the Toronto starters, and it’ll be fun to watch him battle against Hassan Whiteside in the second-round. Valanciunas had a very productive first-round series, and he should be able to continue to flirt with averages of 13.6 points, 11.9 boards and 1.4 blocks in the second-round.
Paul George did all he could to try and propel the Pacers to a win, putting up 26 points, 12 boards, four triples, one assist, three steals and an unfortunate seven turnovers, but ultimately the Pacers could not secure the Game 7 win. Still, PG-13 was phenomenal through the first-round series, and it’s hard to view the 2015-16 season for George as anything other than a resounding success after he spent a majority of the 2014-15 season on the sidelines. Through 81 games, George compiled averages of 23.1 points, 6.9 boards, 4.1 assists, 1.9 steals, 2.6 treys, 0.4 blocks and 3.3 turnovers per game on 41.8 percent shooting, which was good enough for top-15 value in standard 9-cat leagues. He’ll make for a fine late-first, early-second round selection in next year’s drafts, and at just 25 years old, it’s not unreasonable to think that he can build upon those averages next year.
Dubs destroy Blazers in Game 1 blowout
Draymond Green posted the first triple-double of the 2016 postseason during the Warriors’ 118-106 thrashing of the Blazers, registering 23 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists, two triples, one steal, three swats and two turnovers in 37 minutes. Klay Thompson joined the party, erupting for a playoff career-best 37 points on 14-of-28 shooting to go with seven trey-bombs, five boards, five assists, two steals and two turnovers in his 37 minutes of floor time.
With how easily the Dubs secured this victory, I would be absolutely shocked if Curry suited up for Game 2, and I’m not all that optimistic that he’ll be able to play in Game 3 either; particularly if Golden State heads to Portland with a 2-0 lead. So far Curry has been limited to stationary shooting, although head coach Steve Kerr did say that he’s open to letting Curry run through some scrimmages early next week, and left the door open for a potential Game 3 return. I’d say Game 4 would be the most realistic potential return date for the MVP, and it’ll be Green and Thompson benefiting most in his absence with Shaun Livingston (12 points, four boards, six dimes) running the point.
Damian Lillard really struggled against the length of Livingston, and while he still manage to produce a team-high 30 points, those points came very inefficiently on an 8-of-26 shooting clip. He did, however, round out his stat line with five dimes, four 3-pointers and four steals, and he’ll remain one of the better Trail Blazers to target in DFS during Portland’s second-round series. Lillard did say after the game that he has been dealing with a chest cold, but he wasn’t using it as an excuse, and the Warriors’ tough defense was likely the primary culprit to the inefficient outing.
C.J. McCollum also struggled with efficiency, connecting on just five of his 17 shots on his way to 12 points, three boards, three assists, one steal, one block and zero turnovers in 40 minutes. He also posted a below-average usage rate of 18.2, but I’d expect him to be more aggressive in Game 2 on Tuesday, although efficiency will more than likely remain an issue.
Mason Plumlee missed all seven of his field goal attempts, and went 1-of-2 from the stripe, ending the blowout with just one point to his credit. However, he did manage to bring 12 boards, six assists and two swats to the box score, so it wasn’t a completely wasted effort. Plumlee won’t be much of a factor on the offensive end on most nights, but with averages of 13.0 boards, 5.7 assists and 1.1 blocks through seven postseason games, he’ll make for a reasonable punt play in DFS on the nights he plays.
Allen Crabbe logged 34 minutes off the bench, hitting 6-of-9 shots on his way to 15 points, six boards, three assists, one steal and zero 3-pointers. Crabbe has been hot over his past four games, owning averages of 12.8 points, 4.3 boards, 1.8 assists and 1.5 triples on 60.6 percent shooting, but that shooting percentage obviously is not sustainable. He’ll be someone to consider as a punt while he’s this hot, but know that he can fall off at a moment’s notice.