The Cavaliers and Spurs took care of business once again on Monday night to open up what appear to be insurmountable 2-0 leads in their series, while Tuesday night brings us three very interesting first-round games, as the underdogs lead all of them 1-0.
On a side note, I’m playing in a one-and-done league for charity against some rock-star drummers over at Fantasypostseason.com. It’s yours truly against Brian Rosenworcel from Guster, Janet Weiss from Sleater-Kinney, Dan Bailey from Father John Misty, Bob Nastanovich from Pavement and Chris Tomson from Vampire Weekend. I got off to a quick start, but now sit in second place behind Janet Weiss. She used Paul George last night to scoot ahead of me by 8.0 points, while I tanked it up with Marc Gasol. I think I’m going to roll with DeMar DeRozan tonight and I've saved PG for a home game. The rules are simple: you use one player per night and you can’t use the same guy twice. Follow me on Twitter by clicking here!
Spurs 96, Grizzlies 82 (Spurs 2-0)
Kawhi Leonard was all-world last night, racking up 37 points, 11 rebounds and two assists on 9-of-14 shooting, and he hit 19-of-19 free throws to put the finishing touches on a huge night. Tony Parker was second in scoring with 15 points and three 3-pointers, but had just one assist in 24 minutes, Danny Green added 12 points, four 3-pointers and a block, and LaMarcus Aldridge added 11 points, four boards and two blocks in 42 minutes. This is Kawhi’s world and we just live in it. The Spurs were up big at halftime, but the Grizzlies made an admirable comeback in the third quarter, at least making a blowout a game. But the Spurs never gave up control and knew they had this one in the bag all the way. Even in the playoffs, the only Spur who can be trusted is Kawhi, who would have had an MVP season in almost any other year. Parker, Green, Pau Gasol and Aldridge might be worth using in DFS or one-and-done formats, but really, the only guy you can rely on night-in and night-out is Leonard. Dewayne Dedmon started, but only played 10 minutes and finished with two points and four rebounds. Patty Mills played 24 minutes and hit just 1-of-9 shots, and Pau Gasol played 30 minutes and had 10 points, five boards, a block and two 3-pointers. I don’t think the Spurs are going to the Finals, but I can guarantee you that no one, including the Warriors, wants to play them in a seven-game series. They’ll be looking to sweep the Grizzlies with road wins in Games 3 and 4.
Zach Randolph started the second half for starter JaMychal Green, who had a terrible first half. Green came to life a bit in the second half to hit a 3-pointer and grab a few boards, but I think we’re going to see a lot more Z-Bo from here on in. Green finished with just three points and five rebounds on 1-of-5 shooting in 15 minutes. Mike Conley was the best Grizzly with 24 points, eight dimes, a steal, a block and four 3-pointers on 8-of-18 shooting, while Marc Gasol backed up his 32-point night with 12 points, six boards and two steals on 4-of-15 shooting. He didn’t have a 3-pointer or a block, which only happened nine times during the regular season. Simply put, it was a tough night to need Gasol to come through in DFS or one-and-dones. Randolph was solid with 18 points, 10 boards and three steals on 9-of-18 shooting in 36 minutes. Vince Carter had 12 points, two 3-pointers and nothing else in a start, Tony Allen sat out with right leg injury and might be done for the postseason, and starter Wayne Selden missed both his shots and failed to score in just 16 minutes. James Ennis played 26 minutes and had seven points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals off the bench, and Andrew Harrison played 23 bench minutes, hitting 1-of-5 shots for two points, two rebounds and four assists. Randolph looks like an interesting DFS play going forward, while Ennis could also be fun for a minimum salary. Conley found himself playing some shooting guard, sharing the court with Harrison. The Grizzlies are simply trying to avoid the sweep at this point, as the series heads back to Memphis for the next two games.
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Cavaliers 117, Pacers 111 (Cavs 2-0)
The Big 3 came through again for the Cavaliers, as Kyrie Irving torched Jeff Teague for 37 points, two assists and four 3-pointers on 14-of-24 shooting, Kevin Love had 27 points, 11 boards and three 3-pointers on 6-of-7 shooting, and LeBron James added 25 points, 10 rebounds, seven dimes, four steals and four blocks (and eight turnovers) on 11-of-20 shooting as the Cavs took a 2-0 lead over the Pacers on Monday night. LeBron’s turnovers and poor free throw shooting (3-of-6 tonight) are the only holes in his game and the heavy turnovers were uncharacteristic. Tristan Thompson had 10 rebounds and two blocks, but just four points, while J.R. Smith hit just 1-of-3 shots for three points in 18 minutes. Smith left with a hamstring injury and didn’t return to the game, which is why Iman Shumpert actually played in this one and scored five points (I’m still not touching him in any format). Kyle Korver saw just 14 minutes and scored two points, which is a little surprising given Smith’s injury. With all the talk of how bad the Cavs looked over the last few weeks of the regular season, the Big 3 have come through in both wins over the Pacers and it’s hard to see them not winning this series. Games 3 and 4 are in Indy, but as long as the Cavs get one of those, this thing is about done. And even if Indy holds homecourt, I still think the Cavs are going to emerge and likely play in the Finals again this season. Last night was the first time that LeBron, Kyrie and Love have all scored 25 points in the same playoff game.
Paul George was hot again and hit 10-of-20 shots and four 3-pointers for 32 points, eight boards, seven dimes and a steal, and Jeff Teague came through with 23 points, four boards, four assists, a steal and two 3-pointers. Teague tweaked his right wrist, but was able to play through the pain, and you can bet he’s not about to sit out one of these games as long as his wrist isn’t broken. He did get X-rays after the game, but given how he finished, I don’t think he’s seriously injured. Watch for news. Thaddeus Young was solid with 16 points, three boards and six steals on 7-of-11 shooting, and Lance Stephenson played 26 minutes off the bench and scored 13 points with four dimes and two steals in the loss. Myles Turner basically laid an egg, hitting just 3-of-10 shots for six points, five rebounds, a steal and three blocks, and Monta Ellis was 1-of-4 for just two points in 25 minutes. The Pacers have been in both of these games, but just don’t have the firepower to offset LeBron, Kyrie and Love, especially in a seven-game series. Pacer studs George and Teague are going to be popular plays in one-and-done postseason leagues with the next two games coming in Indy, but this series might be over before it ever returns to Cleveland. For some reason, Stephenson was guarding Love at times tonight, and you know how that turned out.
This slate features three teams who weren’t supposed to win Game 1, yet all of them pulled off the road win in an underdog role.
Milwaukee is at Toronto (NBA TV 7 pm) looking to take a 2-0 lead on the road. If that happens, it could be leading to one of the bigger first-round upsets I can remember. Kyle Lowry says he’s going to be more aggressive in this one, but Malcolm Brogdon should be good to go and the Bucks’ defense against opposing guards is no joke. I’m not sure I want to use Lowry against the Bucks in one-and-dones.
Chicago is at Boston (TNT 8 pm) looking to go up 2-0 and if that happens, the Bulls upsetting the Celtics would easily go down as one of the most surprising first-round outcomes any of us has ever seen. In fact, it would be downright legendary and Jimmy Butler is likely to go crazy again for the Bulls tonight. However, if the Bulls do take this series it might also need an asterisk, based on the tragic death of Isaiah Thomas’ sister.
Utah is at the Clippers (TNT 10:30 pm) trying to go up 2-0 on the Clips in L.A. What’s really amazing about this one is that Rudy Gobert (left knee injury) lasted just a few seconds in Game 1, yet the Jazz still won the game. My guess is that the Clippers come back with a vengeance in this one. Derrick Favors has already been named the starting center for the Jazz, as Gobert will not play tonight.