We got to witness two incredible playoff games on Tuesday night as the Heat took a 1-0 lead on the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals and the Nuggets stunned the Clippers to advance to the Western Conference Finals against the Lakers. If you missed last night’s action because you were doing something fun, I’d suggest checking out Bam Adebayo’s block, Jimmy Butler’s go-ahead ‘And 1” and highlight reels from Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. What a night of bubble hoops!
Heat 117, Celtics 114 overtime – Heat lead ECF 1-0 – I’m not really sure what to even say about this game, as it was a pretty epic Game 1 in the Eastern Conference Finals. Bam Adebayo blocked Jayson Tatum’s dunk attempt with his left hand with 2.5 seconds left in overtime in what is being called one of the best blocks in NBA history. I told my son, immediately, that it was the best block I’ve ever seen, while Magic Johnson, Scott Van Pelt and Tim Legler, along with countless others, were also in agreement. The fact the right-handed Bam blocked a strong dunk attempt with his left hand is just incredible, and to see the two never even came close to making body-to-body contact was even more amazing. And when you look at Bam’s stat line of 18 points, six boards, nine assists, a steal and two blocks, he was easily the player of the game.
Jimmy Butler didn’t do much in the first half but turned it on in the fourth quarter. He hit a huge 3-pointer to give the Heat a 106-105 lead with 22 seconds left and then hit a pretty incredible ‘And 1’ over Jayson Tatum to give the Heat a 116-114 lead with 12 seconds left, which turned out to be the game-winning shot just before Bam’s amazing block. Jimmy hasn’t been a DFS dynamo, but he’s come through in the clutch for the Heat, time and time again. Butler has scored just 20, 17, 17, 30 and 13 points in his last five playoff games. And the Heat have won four of those games.
Tyler Herro hit a couple huge 3-pointers late, cutting the Celtics’ lead to three points with three minutes to go with one of them, and then cutting their lead to 105-103 with just a minute remaining with another one. Herro finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and two 3-pointers in 40 minutes off the bench, and the only disappointing thing about his line is that he didn’t get the last assist for the triple-double. Duncan Robinson started but played just 17 minutes, hitting 2-of-7 shots, so Herro stepped up and made things happen for the Heat.
Jae Crowder went off for 22 points, five rebounds, a steal, two blocks and five 3-pointers on 7-of-11 shooting. One of his 3-pointers came at a key moment and he also had a huge block on Kemba Walker that changed the game. Crowder doesn’t get a lot of love, but he’s a huge part of what the Heat are doing and looks like a fine DFS value play every night.
Goran Dragic went off for 29 points, seven boards, four assists, a block and three 3-pointers to lead the Heat in scoring and I can’t say enough about how good he’s been in these playoffs. He’s a free agent when this is over, but he’s as important to the Heat as any player right now. I play him every time the Heat are playing.
The Heat play as a true team, just like the Nuggets and the Celtics. The Clippers were upended because of chemistry issues, and the Lakers may have similar issues, but the Heat, Nuggets and Celtics are firing on all teamwork cylinders right now.
The Celtics got 30 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, three steals, two blocks and four 3-pointers from Jayson Tatum on 10-of-24 shooting, but he had an airball from downtown with the game on the line, had his game-tying dunk attempt blocked by Adebayo and missed the game-tying 3-pointer on the game’s final play. Tatum might be the best two-way player in the league right now, but he’s probably going to have to find a way to get his teammates more involved down the stretch going forward.
Marcus Smart went off for 26 points and six triples in 43 minutes as his streaky play continues. He’s been very good over his last three games, but Gordon Hayward (ankle) is close to a return, which could negatively impact Smart in DFS. Either way, Smart has been fun to use in fantasy over the last few games and I’m not really afraid to use him, even if Hayward is back.
Jaylen Brown was dealing with a groin injury, but still hit 6-of-14 shots for 17 points, five boards, two assists, a steal and three 3-pointers in the loss. He looked fine and should be ready to roll in Game 2.
And Kemba Walker was 2-of-11 for nine points through the first three quarters but woke up for the fourth and overtime to hit 4-of-8 shots for 10 points in the loss. He’ll need to play better from the start in the next one. Walker finished with 19 points, three boards, six assists, a block and a 3-pointer on 6-of-19 shooting, but the Celtics wouldn’t have been as close as they were to winning this game without his late heroics.
The Heat are now 9-1 in these playoffs and are playing with incredible team chemistry. This series is going to be a war.
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Nuggets 104, Clippers 89 – Nuggets to face Lakers in Western Conference Finals – The Nuggets became the first team to ever come back from being down 3-1 in two series in the same playoffs and remarkably came back from double-digit deficits in five of their six elimination games. They’re another team that plays with incredible chemistry and Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have really stepped up in the playoffs. The Clippers are 0-8 lifetime with a chance to go to the Western Conference Finals, Doc Rivers has eight Game 7 losses to his credit, more than any other coach, and the Lakers are 6-0 in the postseason against the Nuggets. Additionally, Jamal Murray, who had 40 last night, became the second youngest player to score 40 in a Game 7 behind LeBron James. Interesting, right?
Murray had 40 points, four rebounds, five assists, a steal and six 3-pointers on 15-of-26 shooting as his dream playoffs breakout continues. He survived facing very tough defense against the Clippers and should have a field day against the Lakers. Ride him hard in DFS and look for him to be a bit overvalued heading into next season. He’s boosted his average draft position by a couple rounds with this high-profile postseason performance.
Nikola Jokic has been ridiculous and had his first triple-double in these playoffs with 16 points, 22 rebounds, 13 assists, two steals and three blocks on just 5-of-13 shooting in Tuesday’s win. The rebounds were a season high and the assists tied his season high, but he missed all four of his 3-point attempts. The Lakers haven’t really used a center much this postseason, mainly because they didn’t need to, but JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard are about to come into play against Jokic. Put them on your DFS radar.
While Jokic and Murray were all the rage on Tuesday, Jerami Grant and Gary Harris each had 14 points and the Nuggets are going to need both of them to keep stepping up against the Lakers. Michael Porter Jr. disappeared in Game 7 with two points and seven rebounds, but he’s been playing at a high level and should get back on track against the Lakers. Paul Millsap played 32 minutes but scored just six points with three rebounds on 2-of-6 shooting but should also play a bigger role against the Lakers. Any way you slice it, it was the Murray/Jokic show on Tuesday night and that’s going to continue against the Lake show.
Kawhi Leonard was 6-of-22 from the floor and Paul George was 4-of-16, including 2-of-11 from downtown. In the end, Kawhi and PG-13 were outscored and outshot by Jamal Murray to the tune of 40 to 24 and 15-of-26 shooting to 10-of-38 by Murray alone. Montrezl Harrell was really the only Clipper to show up, hitting 7-of-10 shots for 20 points and three rebounds, but the Nuggets put the Clippers away with a 19-9 run to start the third quarter and never looked back. The Nuggets came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Clippers, just like they did against the Jazz, making history in the process.
There are no games on Wednesday, so sit back, play with your fantasy football rosters and watch some baseball. The Heat-Celtics series will start on Thursday and then play every other day, while the Nuggets-Lakers series will start on Friday, also playing every other day. These Conference Finals series should be fun, and I can’t wait to see what happens. I still think this is the ‘Year of the Mamba’ and have the Lakers winning it all, but the reality is that all four of these teams have a chance to win a ring in the bubble. Let’s Go!