Jonas Nader

Basketball Daily Dose

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Dose: ECF Game 2 Preview

Friday, May 19, 2017


There was no NBA action on Thursday, so I spent some time with my newborn daughter, played an unhealthy amount of FIFA 17, binge-watched The Office and continued to scout the top NBA prospects in the country. The draft isn’t until June 22, so it’s just a matter of time before I will start pumping out some new content. As for this article, let’s take a quick look at a preview for Game 2 between the Celtics and Cavaliers on Friday. The NBA also announced which players made the All-NBA First, Second and Third teams, so I’ll discuss why fans of the Jazz and Pacers should be very nervous. For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here!

 

 

Game 2 Preview: Celtics vs. Cavaliers in Boston (Cavaliers winning 1-0)

 

The Celtics didn’t really stand a chance in Game 1 vs. the well-rested defending champs, but I’m expecting a much closer Game 2 when coach Brad Stevens inevitably makes some tweaks to his rotation. One of those changes I’m expecting is a lot more of impressive rookie Jaylen Brown, as he was a +4 in the 13-point loss. One does not simply stop LeBron James (Boromir voice), but Brown is Boston’s only hope in that regard and did an outstanding job in Game 1, playing some incredible defense on LeBron and finishing with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting, nine rebounds and one assist in 20 minutes. In fact, It’s not crazy to think that Brown could start in Game 2 alongside Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Al Horford, shifting Amir Johnson to the bench. Double-teaming LeBron may not be the best option because of how many lethal 3-point shooters the Cavs have, so Brown may have to shadow him for most of the game. 

 

Moving Brown into the first unit would also give the Celtics more athleticism and floor spacing, and his ability to switch onto any player on the perimeter could make a huge difference. “It’s very evident that athletically he's just a special athlete,” Stevens said of Brown. “He can do things that other guys can't do, whether it's offensive rebounding or getting to the basket or whatever the case may be. We need some of those things, so I would expect him to continue to play a large role for us in this series.” The Celtics should be able to contain Kyrie Irving with Avery Bradley and Marcus Smarts taking defensive shifts against the PG and he only had 11 points and six assists in Game 1, so if they find an answer for LeBron in Jaylen Brown, that could make this a very interesting series. 

 

Coach Stevens said he may also give Jonas Jerebko some run in Game 2, but he’s looking at a handful of minutes at best because the Celtics need defense and rebounding more than they do 3-point shooting.  The Celtics got some nice production on offense from Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley as the duo combined for 42 points, but Thomas was the missing piece of the puzzle, making 7-of-19 shots with two 3-pointers for 17 points, 10 assists, one rebound, one steal and four turnovers. He wasn’t in attack mode and the Cavaliers were trapping him at every turn, so expect Thomas to come out firing in Game 2 and give his teammates some belief in the process. ”We can't panic. It's only one game," Thomas said. "One game. They took care of business, and we just gotta take care of business in Game 2. I believe in these guys,” he added. “We're not scared of Cleveland. They're not the Monstars. They’re not on 'Space Jam (h/t Chris Forsberg of ESPN).’” On a side note, this is the best thing you will see on the internet all week (link).

 

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As for Cleveland, they looked comfortable in the 117-104 win, but LeBron said he didn’t even think they played “that great.” LeBron, who just passed Michael Jordan in being named to his 11th All-NBA first team Thursday, went off for 38 points (14-of-24 FGs, 9-of-11 FTs), nine rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one 3-pointer in 42 minutes in the Game 1 win and has averaged more points against Boston than any other team for his career, so he might be the top play in all of DFS the rest of the way. The Cavaliers will want to find a way to get Kyrie Irving going after he was held to 11 points in Game 1, but at least they don’t have to worry about Kevin Love like they did last season. Love went off for a playoff career-high 32 points, making 9-of-16 FGs and 8-of-9 FTs with six 3-pointers, 12 rebounds, one steal and one block in 34 minutes. 

 

"We want the mentality of Kevin from Minnesota, but his usage rate don't have to be as high as Minnesota," LeBron said. "Obviously, we all know that he was a featured guy pretty much every possession going down the floor, and here that's changed a little bit because we have other guys.” Love has accepted his role and it fluctuates based on matchups, but it’s obvious that his perimeter shooting is going to be key in this series with Boston’s defense collapsing on LeBron. Coach Tyronn Lue said he wanted to “feature” Love and made a slight tweak to the rotation by giving him more run with the second unit as the “alpha dog,” and it’s obvious that the move payed dividends (h/t Dave McMenamin of ESPN). 

 

The Cavaliers have won 12 straight postseason games dating back to Game 5 of the 2016 Finals which is one short of the NBA record, so I still consider them the favorites to take Game 2. 

 

 

2017 All-NBA Teams Announced:

 


2016-17 All-NBA First Team

 

James Harden

Russell Westbrook

LeBron James

Kawhi Leonard

Anthony Davis

 

2016-17 All-NBA Second Team

 

Stephen Curry

Isaiah Thomas

Kevin Durant

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Rudy Gobert

 

2016-17 All-NBA Third Team

 

John Wall

DeMar DeRozan

Jimmy Butler

Draymond Green

DeAndre Jordan


Like any other year, there were some notable snubs like Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, Nikola Jokic, and Karl-Anthony Towns, but guys like Paul George and Gordon Hayward also have a case and actually had a lot riding on these votes. George and Hayward would've both been eligible for the designated player veteran extension had they made one of the All-NBA teams, but since they didn't, their teams won't have as much leverage in trying to retain them in free agency (Hayward is a FA this summer and George in 2018). The Pacers can now only offer George a four-year extension which means he lost out on about $70 million, while Hayward will miss out on about $50 million. The Jazz can still offer Hayward a five-year deal since he's opting out of the final year of his deal and hitting the open market this summer, though. With rumors of George's interest in the Lakers and the Celtics expected to make a max offer to Hayward, fans of the Pacers and Jazz have every reason to be nervous. 


Quick Notes:


Kawhi Leonard (ankle) "didn't do much, if anything, on the court" at Thursday's practice according to Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News. San Antonio is one of the least transparent teams in the NBA when it comes to injuries, so don't expect a real update until Saturday. Pau Gasol hinted pretty strongly that Leonard sat out of most of the practice when he jokingly said he was "sitting nicely on the sideline," but he did add that the two-way superstar is progressing. The Spurs have been cautious in the past with their franchise players, so it's anybody's guess if Leonard will be ready in time for Game 3. If he sits, fire up Jonathon Simmons in all fantasy formats -- he started Game 2 and scored a team-high 22 points on 8-of-17 shooting with three rebounds, three assists and two 3-pointers.


Zaza Pachulia (heel) went through parts of practice on Thursday, and while an MRI came back clean, he's still considered questionable for Game 3. The San Antonio crowd is going to destroy him for his cheap shot on Kawhi Leonard in Game 1 which changed the momentum of this series, so maybe it's in his best interest to sit this one out -- a Spurs fan went as far as to file a lawsuit on Pachulia... NBA fans are the best. Expect more small-ball lineups if he sits with a few more minutes going to JaVale McGee and David West


Andre Iguodala (knee) went through a full light practice on Thursday, but coach Mike Brown still called him questionable for Game 3. He gets another day off on Friday, but we'll have a better idea of his status on Friday night. If he's out, Patrick McCaw appears to be the big winner after scoring 16 points on 6-of-8 from the field with five assists, three rebounds, three steals and three triples in 27 minutes in Game 2. With that said, it's hard to take anything away from that massacre of a game. 






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