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Heat take Game 1 of ECF, Magic secure first pick in upcoming draft

Jimmy Butler

Jimmy Butler

Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday was a pretty big day around the league. Not only did we get the first taste of the Conference Finals, but the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery also took place. We now know the top 14 picks for the draft, which will take place on June 23, and they’re all listed below:

  1. Orlando Magic
  2. Oklahoma City Thunder
  3. Houston Rockets
  4. Sacramento Kings
  5. Detroit Pistons
  6. Indiana Pacers
  7. Portland Trail Blazers
  8. New Orleans Pelicans (from the Lakers, due to the Anthony Davis trade)
  9. San Antonio Spurs
  10. Washington Wizards
  11. New York Knicks
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder (from the Clippers, due to the Paul George trade)
  13. Charlotte Hornets
  14. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Magic get their fourth first pick in franchise history, the first three being Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber and Dwight Howard. Orlando, OKC and Houston are all in pretty good shape, because at this moment, it doesn’t seem like you can go wrong with the top three prospects. This trio includes Jabari Smith (Auburn, -120 odds to go first overall, via PointsBet), Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga, +140) and Paolo Banchero (Duke, +500). This short list has guys with superstar qualities and potential through the roof, and while these three have the best chance of going in the top three, guys like Jaden Ivy (Purdue) and Keegan Murray (Iowa), among plenty of others, are looking really good too. There’s sure to be plenty of speculation in the weeks to come, but we still have over a month to go until we see these guys get their names called on draft day.

Heat 118, Celtics 107 (MIA leads series 1-0)

The Celtics were victorious in three of the four quarters of Tuesday’s Game 1, but the Heat won the third by 25 points to secure the win on their home floor. Jimmy Butler went absolutely nuclear, and while it may be wild once you read his stat line, I’m not even sure it does him justice regarding how active and dominant he was in his 41 minutes. Playoff Jimmy scored 41 points on 12-of-19 shooting from the floor and 17-of-18 from the free throw line, adding nine rebounds, five assists, four steals, three blocks and two turnovers, doing all of this without even hitting a triple (0-of-2 3PT FGs). According to ESPN Stats & Info, Butler recorded his fifth playoff game with 40 points on 60% shooting, which ties Charles Barkley for third-most over the last 30 postseasons (Lebron has 12, Shaq has eight such games). He had his hands all over this game and made life miserable for Boston all night, and Playoff Jimmy is really just built different. Some people quickly forget that Butler has a 40-point triple-double in the Finals to his name, and it seems like when he wants to turn it up a notch, he can do so whenever he wants. Tyler Hero was next up in scoring with 18 points (7-of-15 FGs) off the bench, adding eight rebounds, three assists, one steal, one trey and four turnovers in 27 minutes. Oddly enough, the Sixth Man of the Year didn’t even score in his team’s 39-14 third quarter, but that may have been because the aforementioned Butler was doing a lot of it with 17 points in that frame. Kyle Lowry remained out with his left hamstring strain, which meant Gabe Vincent got the start again, and he was fantastic with 17 efficient points, two rebounds, three assists, three blocks, three 3-pointers and only one turnover across 34 minutes. The points and blocks mark new career bests for Vincent in the postseason, with the treys tying his postseason high, and he was playing phenomenal defense all night on top of the excellent shot-making. The scoring otherwise was pretty quiet on Miami’s side, as Bam Adebayo attempted only four shots and scored just 10 points all night, but was huge on the defensive end with four swats to go with four boards and an assist in 37 minutes. He could be doing more on offense on a team missing its starting point guard, but he was far better all around than his stat line suggests and his team will take that any given day. Max Strus posted a 11/4/2 line with two steals and three triples in 30 minutes of a start, while P.J. Tucker, Caleb Martin, Dewayne Dedmon and Victor Oladipo all scored either five or six points apiece. Tucker did exit the game briefly due to a right foot issue but looked just fine and ended up playing 31 minutes, and Oladipo needed just 15 minutes to snag two steals and block a shot as his post-injury resurgence continues.

Boston’s loss on Tuesday may have partially been attributed the absences of Marcus Smart (right mid-foot sprain) and Al Horford, who entered protocols earlier on Tuesday and was ineligible to play. The Celtics were actually up eight points at the half behind 42 points in the paint in those 24 minutes, but they fell apart in the third and only scored six paint points in the entire second half. Jayson Tatum had a very promising first half in which he scored 21 points, but he made just one field goal in the second half to end his evening with a 29/8/6/4/1 line in 44 minutes. He drained two triples but also turned it over seven times, with six of those coming in the third quarter, and while it looked like he was set up for another 40-piece, the Miami defense gets a ton of credit for shutting down one of the best players left in this postseason when it mattered most. Jaylen Brown posted a 24-point, 10-rebound double-double, but he struggled with his shot both from the field (7-of-17 FGs) and from the line (6-of-10 FTs), and he also recorded three dimes with three steals and four trey-bombs in 43 minutes. The free throws have been a huge issue, as Brown has gone just 11-of-21 from the charity stripe over his last three games, but it’s an area we’re well aware he could improve upon. With Al Horford unfortunately out of commission for Game 1, Robert Williams started and was awesome with 18 points (6-of-8 FGs, 6-of-7 FTs), nine rebounds and two blocks in 28 minutes. Williams missed the last three games with left knee soreness and got a DNP-CD in Game 7 against the Bucks, but he looked rejuvenated tonight. However, he did appear to hurt his left leg late, and it appeared to just be a cramp, and hopefully that’s the case. Payton Pritchard gets a lot of credit for picking up some of the slack in Smart’s absence with a 18/5/4 line with a steal and four triples in a whopping 30 minutes. Pritchard came off the bench with Derrick White starting, but White did a whole lot of nothing on the stat sheet but at least played some good defense, but I’d expect White to be a lot better and Pritchard to be a bit worse if Smart misses Game 2 on Thursday. Grant Williams, who was the Game 7 hero on Sunday, scored just seven points with two dimes, one steal and one trey despite playing 35 minutes, and he chose a very bad time to disappear on a night when Horford wasn’t able to suit up. It’s hard to know what Williams is going to do on any given night, but he’ll always have a higher ceiling when one of the bigs isn’t playing -- the team has yet to rule Horford out for Game 2 just yet, so maybe Boston will get a pleasant surprise. Daniel Theis (8/4/2 in 20 minutes) played more than usual for reasons mentioned and actually looked good, while even Aaron Nesmith played 11 minutes after playing one minute per game in the Bucks series. Nesmith did have three really nice blocks, but he didn’t score and bricked all three of his triples to round out a scoreless night that also included a steal and a rebound.

Wednesday’s game - Mavericks at Warriors (Game 1)

These Conference Finals games basically just alternate, so we have a game every day until May 30 if these series go to all seven games (I hope they do). Game 1 of the WCF will be on Wednesday, and the only notable injury update is Otto Porter (right foot soreness), who has been removed from the NBA injury report and will be available. He should see plenty of minutes with Gary Payton and Andre Iguodala still out, making him an intriguing DFS play at a reasonable price.

Various news

- Lonzo Ball’s left knee has not gotten better - Ball’s last game action came way back on January 14, and we have yet to get much of a positive update yet. There’s no telling yet if Ball will have to miss training camp or anything, but he’s not moving in the right direction whatsoever. His fantasy upside is awesome, but it’s safe to call him an injury-prone player now, and this update doesn’t help.

- Derrick Favors opted into his $10.2 million player option and will remain with the Thunder next season - this was the expected move, but he still remains on a rebuilding team that now officially has the No. 2 pick in the upcoming draft. He would have gotten much less money elsewhere, so it makes sense, but there’s no need to even think about considering him when fantasy drafts come around.

- Terry Stotts will interview for the Hornets’ head coaching job this week - this could be huge for the Hornets as they’ve been bounced from the play-in tournament two years straight. Stotts got the Blazers to the playoffs eight times in his nine years, and maybe he helps them take that next step into the postseason if he gets the gig.