Jared Johnson

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: Onward King James

Saturday, May 6, 2017


Cleveland 115, Toronto 94 (Cavs lead series 3-0)

 

LeBron James helped the Cavs take a commanding 3-0 lead in their second-round series with the Raptors on Friday, registering 35 points, eight boards, seven dimes, two triples, one steal and five turnovers through 41 minutes of floor time. He basically got whatever he wanted all game long, going 9-of-16 from the field and 15-of-16 from the charity stripe for a sterling true shooting percentage of 76.0, and he took over during the fourth quarter, scoring 13 of his 35 points while posting a usage rate of 38.7. Kevin Love was also solid in the win, recording a 16-point, 13-board double-double to go with one 3-pointer, one block and four turnovers; and Kyle Korver hit some clutch shots down the stretch, finishing with 14 points, four treys, three rebounds and two blocks in 21 minutes off the bench.

 

As for the Raptors, Kyle Lowry (ankle) dressed, but didn’t actually step foot on the court, which resulted in Cory Joseph moving into the starting five although he was only able to contribute four points on 2-of-12 shooting to go with three boards, six assists, one steal and one block in 33 minutes. Norman Powell briefly exited the game after tweaking his left ankle, but he played through it and finished with 13 points, three boards, two assists, two steals, one 3-pointer and two turnovers in 36 minutes. The ankle injury occurred during the first quarter, so considering he was still able to log 36 minutes, I seriously doubt this will be an issue that requires him to spend any time on the sidelines.

 

DeMar DeRozan led the charge offensively, posting a playoff career-high 37 points on 12-of-23 shooting (13-of-13 from the stripe) to go with two rebounds, three assists, three steals and zero turnovers while recording a 33.6 usage rate, but he was only able to score one point (0-of-2 FGs, 1-of-1 FTs) through the entire fourth quarter of action. If Lowry can’t give it a go for Game 4 on Sunday, DeRozan will again be tasked with the heavy lifting on offense, and he’ll need to be even better for the Raptors to have any chance of avoiding a sweep by King James and the Cavs. Considering that no team in NBA history has ever overcome a 0-3 deficit, it’s safe to say that this series is essentially over.

 

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San Antonio 103, Houston 92 (Spurs lead series 2-1)

 

The Spurs locked in defensively during Friday’s Game 3 win in Houston, taking back home court advantage while holding Houston to 36.4 percent shooting.

 

In case you missed it, Tony Parker ruptured his left quadriceps tendon during San Antonio’s Game 2 win, and he will miss the remainder of the postseason. With Parker on the sidelines, Dejounte Murray moved into the starting five, but he was only on the court for a total of 14 minutes, going 1-of-5 from the field on his way to two points, two rebounds, one steal and two turnovers. Patty Mills, however, was able to earn 30 minutes off the bench sans Parker and he put up 15 points, two triples, five boards, two assists, two steals and three turnovers. Murray should continue to start for San Antonio the rest of the way, but Mills is going to be the primary beneficiary with Parker out of commission.

 

Doug Collins really tried to hype up the whole “Spurs weren’t supposed to win without Parker” narrative during the broadcast, but I think he really overstated how much that loss will impact San Antonio’s chances of coming out on top in this second-round series. Sure, Parker is bound to be a first ballot Hall of Famer once he retires, but he’s also well past his prime, turned in some of his worst numbers since his rookie year this season, and was only averaging 24.3 minutes a game against the Rockets. Also, Kawhi Leonard’s usage rate spikes to 35.2 with Parker off the floor, which is the opposite of a good thing for the Rockets.

 

Speaking of Kawhi, he was fabulous during the win, tallying 26 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, two 3-pointers, one steal and three turnovers in 41 minutes; and both he and Danny Green did an excellent job of making things difficult for James Harden. LaMarcus Aldridge was also solid, going 12-of-20 from the field and 2-of-3 from the stripe on his way to 26 points, seven rebounds, two assists, four blocks and one turnover in 38 minutes; and Pau Gasol did a little bit of everything with 12 points, nine boards, four dimes, one triple, two blocks and four turnovers in 31 minutes.

 

As previously stated, the Spurs did a phenomenal job on the defensive end, holding Ryan Anderson (0-of-4), Patrick Beverley (3-of-13), Nene (0-of-5), Eric Gordon (3-of-10) and Lou Williams (0-of-4) to a combined 20 points on 16.7 percent shooting; but I’d expect most of these guys to bounce back in Game 4 on Sunday.

 

James Harden posted a gaudy 40.8 usage rate as he did all he could to try and secure the win for Houston, going 14-of-28 from the field and 10-of-12 from the line on his way to 43 points five trey-bombs, five dimes, two rebounds, three steals and five turnovers in 40 minutes. Trevor Ariza was the Rockets’ second-leading scorer, draining five triples on his way to 17 points, five boards, five assists, one steal and two turnovers; and Clint Capela double-doubled with 12 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, five swats and one turnover in 32 minutes.

 

It’s unfortunate that Houston dropped their first game back at home, but this series is far from over, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see it go a full seven games. Lou Williams tends to be Houston’s X-factor in wins, as he’s averaging 17.0 points on 45.0 percent shooting in wins, but just 8.7 points on 42.3 percent shooting in losses, so he’ll need to be much better in Game 4. Anderson will also need to step his game up, as he obviously cannot attempt just four shots for the Rockets to have a chance at winning.



A hoops fanatic, Jared Johnson has been a member of the Rotoworld team since 2013. Follow him on Twitter @JaredJ831, and feel free to send him your questions regarding trades, draft strategies and all things fantasy basketball.
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