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Scores and ATS Results
New York 101 – Orlando 90 (New York +2.5)
Washington 105 – Toronto 96 (Washington +4.5)
Dallas 95 – Atlanta 100 (Dallas +6)
Philadelphia 98 – Miami 125 (Miami +9.5)
Denver 110 – Milwaukee 98 (Denver +4.5)
Detroit 86 – New Orleans 109 (New Orleans -2.5)
Cleveland 99 – Boston 103 (Boston -2)
Indiana 99 – San Antonio 100 (Indiana +9.5)
Minnesota 107 – Utah 80 (Utah -6.5)
Brooklyn 109 – Sacramento 100 (Brooklyn +2.5)
Houston 122 – LA Clippers 103 (Houston +2)
Have A Night Isaiah Thomas
Isaiah Thomas gets the honor, but that whole C’s team had a night last night.
Can Boston beat Cleveland in a series? Eh, probably not. Playoff Lebron, Playoff Kyrie, and a locked-in Cleveland team is still winning that series – with or without Kevin Love at full health.
But Boston showed a lot last night. That’s a team full of dudes who are in no way scared of the Cavaliers. Isaiah, Bradley, Crowder, Smart, shit, even Jaylen Brown. Those are five guys who 1) raise their game when it matters, and 2) aren’t afraid to be on the court against Cleveland. Defensively they’ve got three guys to throw at Lebron at any given time, and the only player in the league in Bradley capable of at least containing Kyrie come crunch time. And offensively those are four guys who will take and make threes in crunch time created by Isaiah’s penetration.
Rebounding will still be a massive issue for Boston come May, especially if Love is healthy. Horford, despite a near triple double last night, has been mostly horrendous against these Cavs teams. And there’s not much in the way of front court depth in Boston to help him out.
But those five guys mentioned above? They can give Cleveland problems. It’s one game. And Boston is still just 3-7 against Cleveland, Toronto, and Washington this season. But that game showed something. I don’t know if Boston can beat Toronto or Washington. But in a weird way, they’re probably the toughest matchup of the three for this Cleveland roster.
Two other notes from the night:
1) Ty Lue experimenting with a Kyrie – Deron Williams – Korver – Derrick Williams – Lebron lineup was really interesting. Assuming Durant is healthy come June, that could potentially be a really interesting lineup to throw at the Warriors Death Star unit. It’s more likely that Tristan Thompson is there in the Derrick Williams role, making it a little more traditional. But they could also use Jefferson in that role with Lebron as the defacto Center matched up with Draymond. Either way, the super-small two point guard lineup (three if you count Lebron) with Korver hidden on Igoudala is at least interesting. And they have a team in Boston to really test that lineup on leading into it.
2) Deron Williams is gonna miss ohhhh so many big shots in the playoffs. The whole “clutch” argument is usually pretty stupid after getting beaten to death by the Skips of the world. But Deron Williams is so spectacularly un-clutch that it can’t be overlooked. Lebron’s pass to him was absolutely preposterous. A cross-court bullet right in his shooting pocket. And D-Will threw up a brick. As much as Williams can help them over the next few months, that’s a dude you just don’t want on the court in the last two minutes.
Have A Night Bojan Bogdanov
You’re goddamn right I said Bojan Bogdanovic. 27 points on 6/7 shooting from three. A team-high (+16) with him on the court.
As hidden as he was these last few years on Brookyln these last few years, that dude gets buckets. He can get out there for 24/25 minutes, move without the ball, space the floor, and
Depth was the major concern for the Wizards over the last few months. As great as their starting five (and Oubre off the bench) had been, that’s all there was to carry the team. Flash forward a few weeks and now look at them. All of a sudden that’s a really substantial, dangerous five man bench unit. You’ve got Oubre and Bogdanovic to carry the scoring load. A healthy, while still wildly overpaid, Ian Mahimni. Satoransky with a few months under his belt, now being asked to do a lot less. And now Brandon Jennings as a veteran point guard at the helm with the ability to still push the pace.
I said yesterday that until the Washington bench guys could prove themselves, Toronto probably had a higher ceiling in the East. And if Kyle Lowry does return healthy, that could still be the case. But Washington absolutely obliterated them last night, in Toronto, to the point that I’m ready to change my mind.
The matchups will dictate a lot of how the top four shake out in the east. But if Washington gets Toronto in round 2 and Cleveland has to slug through a Boston series full of games like last night, the Wizards could honestly be a Kyrie injury away from the Finals
Have A Night Kristaps Porzingis
I want my Knicks to lose. I want to lose and lose and lose their way into the top to draft to draft my new favorite college player of the last five years in Malik Monk. That dude is awesome, and I’ve dreamt sweet dreams of #MonkZingis pick and popping the Eastern Conference to death over the next decade and a half. But to make those dreams come true, I need my Knicks to lose.
You know what doesn’t help that dream come true? Beating all of the teams above them. In just the last five days the Knicks have now beat Philly and Orlando and continued to widen the gap between them. And in a draft with four potential superstars at the top (Fultz, Ball, Jackson, Monk) and then a noticeable drop off to the Dennis Smith, Jonathan Isaac, Jayson Tatum, Lauri Markkanen group, that’s not good. Kristaps is only going to get better, which means this could be the last chance for the Knicks to draft a superstar at the top of the draft. I need the Knicks to lose more.
But then again, I can’t hate Kristaps for nights like last night. After such an awesome first two months things have been a disaster. He’s in and out of the lineup. He’s constantly hurt but wants to play through it. He’s getting less and less shots. It’s sucked. So to see one of those really nice games like last night. One of those “oh yeah, we still have this superstar, it’s not all that bad” games. It’s great.
But seriously, if Kristaps gets shut down for the year so we can lose again I’m very much here for it.
Have A Night Kawhi Leonard
Super freaking star performance from Kawhi last night. Absolutely awesome. And all, again, against another superstar in Paul George.
Let’s say, for a second, that Durant isn’t healthy. Let’s imagine he’s out. Which, while the reports suggest he’ll be good to go by the playoffs, is not that far of a stretch. You have to consider San Antonio the west favorites at that point right? Even over Golden State. Yes, Curry and Draymond and Klay are still there. But the depth isn’t. There’s no Bogut, no Ezeli, no Barbosa, no Barnes. Compare that to the Spurs depth and infrastructure, and all of a sudden that’s much more even of a series.
Kawhi is the third best player in the world. Better than Curry. Better than Harden. Better than Russ. The strides he’s made offensively are simply outrageous. And he’s still the best defender in the world. One player to build around for a year… One player to have for a series… I’m taking Kawhi over everyone not named Lebron and Durant.
You take Durant out of that series and it goes from Golden State in five to a seven game slugfest. Kawhi, Mills, and Green are as strong a defensive perimeter as anyone in the game. You put out a lineup of Mills, Manu, Green, Kawhi, LaMarcus in crunch time, that’s a really tough matchup for Golden State without Durant.
We’re a ways off. But Kawhi has shown enough now that I genuinely think he can beat a Durant-less Warriors team.
Schedule for Thursday, March 2nd
Golden State – Chicago (+7) 8:00 TNT
Charlotte – Phoenix (+3.5) 9:00
Oklahoma City – Portland (-1.5) 10:30 TNT