A look ahead to the play-in tournament and news from around the league
The regular season ended on Sunday, which means every fantasy league has been wrapped up. If you were fighting until the very end on a day when Malik Monk, Obi Toppin and Victor Oladipo all scored at least 40 points, Austin Reaves and Immanuel Quickley triple-doubled and Sandro Mamukelashvili scored 28 points with 13 rebounds, this may be your sign to end your head-to-head league a couple weeks before the end of the regular season. However, if you legitimately enjoy the silliness of the final week and especially the final day of the regular season, more power to you, and never change.
The play-in tournament will run from Tuesday, April 12 to Friday, April 15, and then we’ll have the full playoff picture ahead of the 2021-2022 NBA playoffs, which begin on Saturday, April 16. Let’s start by taking a look at the schedule, Tuesday’s games and some news we received since Sunday.
Full Play-In Schedule
April 12 - Tuesday
1. Cavaliers (8) @ Nets (7) - 7pm EST (winner clinches seventh seed in the East)
2. Clippers (8) @ Timberwolves (7) - 9:30pm EST (winner clinches seventh seed in the West)
April 13 - Wednesday
3. Hornets (10) @ Hawks (9) - 7pm EST (winner plays the loser of Cavaliers @ Nets, loser is eliminated)
4. Spurs (10) @ Pelicans (9) - 9:30pm EST (winner plays the loser of Clippers @ Timberwolves, loser is eliminated)
April 15 - Friday
5. Winner of 3 vs. Loser of 1 (time TBD, winner gets eighth seed in the East, loser is eliminated)
6. Winner of 4 vs. Loser of 2 (time TBD, winner gets eighth seed in the West, loser is eliminated)
(Note - Wednesday morning’s Dose will break down the results from these two games, as well as a look ahead to Wednesday’s games)
Cavaliers @ Nets
To no one’s surprise, the Nets are favored by 8.5 points over the Cavs (all odds in this piece via PointsBet), as they clearly struggled in the regular season despite being one of the championship favorites before the season commenced. There aren’t a ton of people out there that think the Nets could lose this game, and they’re up against a team that’s 3-8 in their last 11 games. All of those games came without All-Star center Jarrett Allen, who has already been ruled out for Tuesday’s game but reportedly has about a 50/50 chance to play in what would be a must-win game on Friday if they indeed lose to Brooklyn. Collin Sexton (left meniscus tear) and Dean Wade (right knee surgery) are of course out for the Cavs and will be until next season, while the Nets remain without Joe Harris (left ankle surgery) and Ben Simmons (everything). Otherwise, that’s it for injuries, as Seth Curry (left ankle soreness) and Goran Dragic (health and safety protocols) are good to go, and it’s not surprising to see a much cleaner injury report now that the postseason has arrived. The winner of this game gets a matchup with the Celtics in the first round, and with the Celtics’ convincing second-half surge, a Nets/Celtics first-round matchup would be a whole lot of fun. For those interested in DFS for this pair of games, Kevin Love remains a nice target with Allen out, and he has the momentum factor after going nuts for 32 points, 10 rebounds and eight triples in only 15 minutes in Sunday’s season finale.
Clippers @ Timberwolves
This game figures to be a bit more competitive, at least according to Vegas, as the Wolves are three-point favorites at home. Luke Kennard exited Sunday’s finale against the Thunder with right hamstring soreness and carries a questionable tag ahead of Tuesday’s game, and he’s the only player in both games whose status is up in the air. The other Clippers regulars that are out are Kawhi Leonard (right ACL recovery), Jason Preston and Jay Scrubb (both for right foot injury recovery), and Minnesota’s side of the injury report is completely clean. The victor of this game will face the Grizzlies in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, and I truly fear for whoever of these two has to play an incredibly well-oiled Memphis team that officially has Ja Morant healthy. If Kennard isn’t able to give it a go, give guys like Terance Mann and Amir Coffey a look in DFS tournaments as an inexpensive option, with Coffey also having the Love-like momentum factor after his career night on Sunday.
- Luka Doncic suffers left calf injury in finale - Luka suffered the injury on Sunday and didn’t return, and he was definitely gimpy but initial reports said there was optimism it wasn’t serious and it’s currently being called a left calf strain. Other than that, we haven’t received much info on Dallas’ franchise player besides the fact that he’s getting a MRI at some point, but he’s not legally obligated to share his final status until closer to Game 1 vs. the Jazz on Saturday. The team could very well wait to release news on Doncic and keep Utah guessing, as their game plan will change drastically depending on if Luka is in the lineup or not.
- Lakers fire head coach Frank Vogel - Not even a full minute had passed after the Lakers beat the Nuggets in Sunday’s finale before Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported this, and the news was official as of Monday. One candidate that has been mentioned is current Raptors coach Nick Nurse, but we don’t expect a decision too soon as Woj said it will be a lengthy and expansive search for a new coach in what was an abysmal year for the purple and gold.
- Malcolm Brogdon says he is healthy and feeling good heading into the offseason - Brogdon missed his last 11 games of the regular season with about every fake injury in the book, and this proves that it was all about the tank in Indiana. In his eight games played with Tyrese Haliburton, Brogdon averaged 21.0 points on 44.7% shooting, 5.1 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 0.8 steals and 1.5 triples per game, and it’s never been a question of what Brogdon is able to do on the court. The issue is that he can’t seem to stay on the floor, appearing in fewer than 57 games in three straight seasons and in 146-of-236 (61.9%) of those games overall. For this reason alone, he’ll be a very risky pick around the middle rounds on draft day.
- LeBron James won’t require ankle surgery - an MRI confirmed that The King won’t need ankle surgery and won’t require any other surgeries for his various injuries he suffered in his 19th season. LeBron said himself that he’ll stay off of his injured ankle for 4-to-6 weeks, but he’s expected to make a full recovery before next season begins.
- Pacers could have interest in acquiring Russell Westbrook this offseason - honestly, I don’t know anyone that would want Westbrook after the season he had, but assuming he picks up his $47 million player option, he’s on an expiring contract that could be attractive to some teams. The Pacers were the first to come up, as they could be open to moving on from Brogdon and Buddy Hield, but for now this is just one of many potential offseason scenarios that we’ll be seeing in the months to come. Russ also mentioned that he felt he was never given a fair chance to be who he needed to be, and his drastic downfall in usage next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis was not something he ever really grew accustomed to. The firing of Frank Vogel, who Westbrook admitted he didn’t have the best relationship with, should help him, but in all honesty, the only way to go for him must be up and I’m not too excited about him for fantasy purposes if he stays in L.A.
- Domantas Sabonis says he’s healthy and feeling good heading into the offseason - Domas missed Sacramento’s final nine contests nursing a bruised left knee, and they were never really expected to play him with the Kings just playing for lottery balls. Sabonis will remain an elite big man to take in the early rounds on draft day, but just remember that the defensive stats have never really been his thing despite plenty of scoring and massive rebounding numbers.
- Anfernee Simons says he expects to be back with the Blazers next season - Simons posted multiple career highs this season with Damian Lillard (abdominals) appearing in just 29 games, and with C.J. McCollum now in New Orleans, Simons will likely be a very popular pick in the second half of drafts for his upside in scoring and three-point production.
- Alvin Gentry won’t be the Kings’ interim coach going forward - Gentry took over for Luke Walton early in the season after Walton was canned, and their search for a new coach continues. The Kings have missed the playoffs in a league-worst 15 straight seasons (which also ties the longest streak in NBA history), so they better choose wisely.