Steve Alexander

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Rockets, Cavs roll

Tuesday, May 2, 2017


The Cavaliers and Rockets crushed their opponents on Monday night in what turned out to be a fairly boring night of basketball – especially if you got home late and tuned into the Rockets-Spurs game, which was a massacre.

 

Cavaliers 116, Raptors 105 – Cavs lead 1-0

 

LeBron James almost had a celebratory beer during Monday’s easy win over the Raptors while on his way to scoring 35 points with 10 rebounds, four assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers on 13-of-23 shooting. LeBron was easily the best player on the court last night and even grabbed a bottle of beer from a vendor after being fouled, but stopped short of taking a sip. Kyrie Irving added 24 points, a career playoff-best 10 assists, two steals and three 3-pointers, Kevin Love chipped in with 18 points, nine boards, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers, and center Tristan Thompson had an 11 & 14 double-double to round out the double-digit scorers for the Cavs. No other player scored more than six points and you don’t want to mess with anyone not mentioned above in playoff fantasy leagues. Starter J.R. Smith aggravated his surgically-repaired right thumb during the game and might have X-rays taken. The Cavs had been off since April 23 and showed few signs of rust, although they did blow an 18-point lead in the first half to let the Raptors stay in the game, but opened up a comfortable 62-48 lead by halftime. Irving looked much better in this one after compiling a grand total of 12 assists against the Pacers in a four-game sweep and the Cavs are now 16-1 at home against Eastern opponents in the playoffs over the last three years.

 

The Raptors are now 1-12 in series openers in the playoffs and have been blown out in Cleveland every time they’ve visited this season, with Game 2 set for Cleveland on Wednesday night. Jonas Valanciunas started and Norman Powell went back to the bench, but JV only managed six points, six boards and a block against Thompson. Kyle Lowry led the way with 20 points, 11 assists, a steal and two 3-pointers, DeMar DeRozan had 19 points and seven boards, and Serge Ibaka added 15 points, six boards, three assists and three 3-pointers in the loss. P.J. Tucker was nice off the bench with 13 points, 11 boards, a block and a 3-pointer, while Powell was good for 12 points, two steals and two 3-pointers, also off the bench. Powell had an interesting night, appearing to intentionally take a shot at Love’s groin, which will surely be reviewed by the league, making a one-game suspension possible. Powell also picked up a technical foul for getting into it with Dahntay Jones, who was ejected. Say what you want about the Cavaliers not looking as dominant as they should, but they swept the Pacers and crushed the Raptors in this one. The Raps will have to go back to the drawing board and you can bet there will be plenty of discussions surrounding whether to start JV or Powell, or even Tucker, going forward.

 

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Rockets 126, Spurs 99 – Rockets lead 1-0

 

The Rockets absolutely crushed the Spurs in San Antonio on Monday night behind 22 3-pointers, with Trevor Ariza leading the way with 23 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals and five 3-pointers. James Harden was also pretty great with 20 points, 14 assists, four steals and three 3-pointers in just 31 minutes, and center Clint Capela got it done with 20 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks, hitting 8-of-10 shots. Ryan Anderson added 14 points, six rebounds, two steals, a block and four 3-pointers, but hit just 4-of-12 shots. Eric Gordon (11 points, three 3-pointers) and Lou Williams (13 points, two 3-pointers) were also effective off the bench. The Rockets outscored the Spurs 34-23 in the first quarter and 35-16 in the second to take a 69-39 lead at halftime, when the game was essentially over. Nene had seven points and five boards in 16 minutes, but was ejected after grabbing Dewayne Dedmon by the throat. A suspension may be coming for Nene, not that it matters. The Rockets hit 22-of-50 from downtown and set a record for the most 3-pointers ever attempted against the Spurs in the postseason. Game 2 is Wednesday, back in San Antonio.

 

The Spurs were basically “straight garbage” (hat tip to my buddy Zach Whigham for that one) last night, were never in the game and suffered the worst loss in a series opener under coach Gregg Popovich. The fact it happened in San Antonio is stunning to me. Kawhi Leonard came through with 21 points, 11 boards, six assists, a block and three 3-pointers, but hit just 5-of-14 shots in 32 minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge scored a career playoff low with four points and six boards on 2-of-7 shooting in 25 minutes, and only Tony Parker (11 points, three assists, 3-of-9 shooting) and Jonathon Simmons (11 points on 4-of-11 shooting) also hit double figures for the Spurs. David Lee started and matched Aldridge with four points, missing both of his shots from the field, and Danny Green hit just 3-of-10 shots for eight points, two steals, two 3-pointers and four turnovers in the loss. The fact the Spurs got beaten this badly at home is going to leave a mark, and the Rockets simply are a really bad matchup for them.

 

Tuesday Night

 

Wizards @ Celtics on TNT at – Celtics lead 1-0

 

The Celtics looked great in Game 1 and will look for a repeat performance tonight. Isaiah Thomas, Al Horford, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk were the key players for the Celtics in Game 1. The Wizards got big stuff from Bradley Beal, John Wall, Marcin Gortat and Otto Porter Jr. in Game 1, but will need more from Markieff Morris tonight, if he can even play. Morris had just five points in 11 minutes on Sunday before leaving with a sprained left ankle, but says he plans on trying to go tonight. If he’s out, Kelly Oubre, who scored 12 points in Game 1, could get the call to start in Morris’ place.

 

Jazz @ Warriors on TNT at 10:30 – Game 1

 

The Warriors are heavy favorites here, as usual, and should have all hands on deck. Oh, and they’re also sad they’re playing Utah instead of the Clippers, as the nightlife in Salt Lake doesn’t really suit their needs. The Jazz will need solid contributions from Gordon Hayward, George Hill, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Rodney Hood, Joe Johnson and Joe Ingles if they’re going to have a chance in this series. Old man Favors may be the key to the Jazz avoiding being swept, but he’s a little iffy due to a sore back, while Gobert fouled out in just 13 minutes of Sunday’s Game 7 win over the Clippers.



Steve "Dr. A" Alexander is the senior editor for the NBA for Rotoworld.com and a contributor to NBCSports.com. The 2017-18 NBA season marks (at least) his 16th year of covering fantasy hoops for Rotoworld. Follow him on Twitter - @Docktora.
Email :Steve Alexander



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