Warriors at Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ latest meltdown comes just as the team is preparing to host the rival Golden State Warriors on national TV on Monday. The Cavaliers will try to put their internal griping aside and get some stops on the defensive end against the Warriors, who are enjoying a string of 12 straight road wins.

The Cavaliers were blasted by a total of 62 points in losses at Minnesota and Toronto before going into Indiana on Friday and building a 22-point lead in the first quarter only to fall 97-95. “We have enough talent here to get over that hump and make good things happen,” forward Kevin Love told reporters. “But right now it’s just tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel but it is there and, this being my fourth year here, we will get out of it and we will get better.” The Warriors, who beat the Cavaliers 99-92 on Christmas Day, are battling through their own rough stretch of schedule and nearly squandered a 27-point halftime lead at Toronto on Saturday before holding on to earn a 127-125 win on the second night of a back-to-back. “Obviously, we wanted to extend that, keep that lead, but they’re a good team, and it’s hard to win on the road in the NBA,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson told ESPN.com. “It doesn’t matter who you play, and they have a great home crowd. A win is a win, especially on a back-to-back.”

TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT

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ABOUT THE WARRIORS (35-9): Golden State got point guard Stephen Curry (ankle) back from a two-game absence on Saturday and watched him collect 24 points, nine assists and six rebounds. Curry, who sat out the meeting with the Cavaliers on Christmas with an ankle injury, was the only player that might have been well-rested in Toronto, which marked the Warriors’ third game in four nights and seventh in 11 days. Kevin Durant played in each of the last three games but is not showing any fatigue while shooting 64.3 percent from the floor and 58 percent from 3-point range in that span.

ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (26-16): Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue cryptically talked to reporters about the need to get rid of “agendas” on the team after a 133-99 loss in Toronto on Thursday but was trying to look at the positives after the loss in Indiana. “It was a great effort,” Lue told reporters. “With (Dwyane Wade) out and (Isaiah Thomas) out. Guys may have been a little tired, but I thought we fought and played with the right purpose, defensively especially. We’ve just got to continue to build off that.” Thomas, who is sitting out back-to-backs after coming off a hip injury, is expected to play on Monday and is hoping for a better performance after going 2-of-15 for four points at Toronto.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Cavaliers SG JR Smith is 4-of-22 from the floor, including 1-of-12 from 3-point range, in the last three games.

2. Warriors SF Omri Casspi (back) sat out the last two games and is day-to-day.

3. Golden State took six of the last seven from Cleveland, including a five-game win in the NBA Finals last spring.

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Posted in NBA

Clippers at Warriors

Stephen Curry is ripping through opponents since coming back from an ankle injury but saved his best for the Los Angeles Clippers while dropping 45 points over three quarters in a 121-105 road win on Saturday. Curry will get another chance to torment the Clippers when they visit the Warriors on Wednesday.

Curry followed that 45-point effort with 32 in a 124-114 win over Denver on Monday and is averaging 35.2 points on 57.4 percent shooting, including 53.2 percent from beyond the arc, in five games since returning from an 11-game absence. “He’s been so brilliant since he’s been back, and even on a night when he’s not at his best, he’s still dominating the game in parts,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr told reporters after Monday’s win. “He hit the big shots that created the separation for us.” The Clippers lost star power forward Blake Griffin to a concussion in the loss to the Warriors on Saturday but managed to avoid a three-game slide when C.J. Williams knocked down a 3-pointer with nine seconds left in a 108-107 win over Atlanta on Monday. “I’ve made that shot before,” Williams told reporters. “Just a rhythm dribble to my left, and once we got that offensive rebound, I felt the momentum and the excitement of the moment.”

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, FS Prime Ticket (Los Angeles), NBCS Bay Area (Golden State)

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ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (18-21): DeAndre Jordan is the only starter remaining from the team’s opening day starting unit and continues to put up big numbers with 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting and 18 rebounds in Monday’s win. The veteran center recorded 15 points and 11 boards in only 29 minutes against Golden State on Saturday as the game got out of hand early but is averaging an NBA-best 15.1 rebounds while ranking second in the league in shooting percentage (.661). Veteran shooting guard Lou Williams was brought in to be the sixth man but is starting due to all the injuries and is averaging 31.2 points over the last five games.

ABOUT THE WARRIORS (33-8): Golden State managed to thrash the Clippers on Saturday despite being without star forward Kevin Durant, who could return on Wednesday after sitting out the last three games with a right calf strain. Durant, who helped the team go 9-2 while Curry was out and is averaging 25.9 points, 7.1 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.3 blocks, is considered probable and will be evaluated after Wednesday morning’s shootaround. Giving Curry a big hand in the absence of Durant has been forward Draymond Green, who recorded a triple-double in Thursday’s win at Houston and collected 23 points and 10 assists in Monday’s triumph over the Nuggets.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Warriors PF David West played in his 1,000th career game on Monday.

2. Clippers PG Milos Teodosic (plantar fasciitis) is questionable for Wednesday.

3. Golden State ran its winning streak in the series to 12 straight with Saturday’s triumph.

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Posted in NBA

Warriors versus Spurs Preview

The Golden State Warriors took a little while at the start of the season but finally found their championship form in a dominating win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.  The Warriors versus Spurs will be broadcast at 8pm on TNT. Play this game as part of Thursday GoW cross sports contest starting at 8pm ET.

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The San Antonio Spurs, who were swept in the Western Conference finals by the Warriors last spring and host the first rematch on Thursday, are not exactly at their best after dropping the last three games. They won their first four games behind power forward LaMarcus Aldridge but the absence of Kawhi Leonard (quad) and Tony Parker (quad) was apparent as the team averaged 91.7 points in three losses. Leonard, who was knocked out of the Western Conference finals in Game 1 when he sprained an ankle after landing on the foot of Golden State center Zaza Pachulia, has yet to play this season. The Warriors had yet to find their highest gear while dropping three of their first seven games but finally put it all together in a 141-113 trouncing at the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.

ABOUT THE WARRIORS (5-3)

Golden State looked to be turning things around by following losses in two of the first three games with a three-game winning streak, but a 26-turnover performance at home in a loss to the Detroit Pistons on Sunday brought them back down to earth. The Warriors, who committed at least 16 turnovers in each of their first seven games, cut that number down to 12 against the Clippers.

ABOUT THE SPURS (4-3)

San Antonio is searching for scorers to take some of the pressure off Aldridge and may have found one in rookie shooting guard Brandon Paul, who came off the bench on Monday and delivered a season-high 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting in 30 minutes. Paul, 26, did not get off the bench in the first two games and totaled 18 points in the next four before getting an extended run against the Celtics. Kyle Anderson is starting in Leonard’s spot at small forward and is averaging 7.9 points on 42.3 percent shooting after going 2-of-8 from the floor against Boston.

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Posted in NBA

MNF Games of the Week

It’s the last chance game to put your NFL Week 7 bets in. Select your fantasy draft picks from Monday Night Football Cross Sports Game of the Week between the Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles. Finish off your remaining selections with some NBA action. A total of three games to choose from. Check out our Redskins versus Eagles preview along with all other Monday’s 8:30pm start time NBA games below and join the action for cash prize!!!   >>>Click here to join the game<<<

Washington Redskins vs Philadelphia Eagles

When the Philadelphia Eagles step onto the field for Monday’s prime-time clash against the visiting Washington Redskins (8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN), they will own the best record in the NFL and have a chance to take total control of the NFC East. The Eagles have ripped off four consecutive victories to open a two-game lead on the Redskins as they vie for a sweep of the season series.

Philadelphia won its first three games last season under rookie quarterback Carson Wentz before going into a tailspin, but the team seems better equipped to continue its success this time around. Washington, which won five straight in the series before dropping a 30-17 decision to the Eagles in the season opener, held on for a 26-24 victory over winless San Francisco last weekend after building an early 17-point lead. The Redskins’ only other loss was a 29-20 setback at then-unbeaten Kansas City, which also handed Philadelphia its only defeat.

Teams Breakdown

Quarterback Kirk Cousins had his worst performance in the season opener, but he is coming off a strong three-game stretch and leads the NFC with a 106.4 passer rating. Running back Rob Kelley is dealing with an ankle injury, which could mean the bulk of playing time will go to rookie Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson, who already has recorded two 100-yard receiving performances and made four catches for 52 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. With wideouts Terrelle Pryor and Jamison Crowder continuing to struggle, the tight-end tandem of Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis has combined for 29 catches. Linebacker Preston Smith has registered 4.5 of the team’s 15 sacks, including one in the season opener.

Wentz entered the weekend fifth in passing yards (1,584) with 13 touchdowns and three interceptions, and during the four-game winning streak has thrown nine scoring passes against only one pick. Moving to the slot has provided a boost for third-year wideout Nelson Agholor, who has recorded four catches and a TD reception in each of the last two games. However, Wentz’s top target is tight end Zach Ertz, who hauled in a pair of touchdown passes last week and has been a nemesis for the Redskins – evidenced by an eight-catch, 93-yard performance in Week 1. Philadelphia ranks No. 1 in the league against the run, allowing an average of 65.7 yards, but is surrendering a generous 273.5 passing yards.

Golden State Warriors vs Dallas Mavericks

The Golden State Warriors came into the season with almost unreal expectations and are having some trouble meeting them in the first week of the season. The Warriors will try to keep their cool and even their record when they visit the Dallas Mavericks on Monday (8:30 p.m. ET on NBCS-Bay Area (Golden State)).

Golden State stars Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant were both ejected in the final minute of Saturday’s 111-101 loss at Memphis after Curry – protesting a no-call on a drive to the basket – tossed his mouthpiece near a referee and Durant came to his defense. Curry and Durant are both off to strong starts offensively but Golden State is struggling on the defensive end and with turnovers.

The Mavericks are struggling out of the gate as well and are about to face their second straight title contender after falling 107-91 at Houston on Saturday.  Dallas isn’t expected to do much this season but does have some hope for the future in point guard Dennis Smith Jr., who collected 16 points and 10 assists in his NBA debut on Wednesday. Smith, who had left knee surgery in 2015, sat out the last two games with swelling in that knee, but the issue is not believed to be serious and he could return as soon as Monday. Yogi Ferrell started at point guard in the last two games and averaged 16.5 points and four assists.

Toronto Raptors vs San Antonio Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs played the first two games without former Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard but still had little trouble shutting down their opponents. The Spurs will try to make it three straight strong performances with Leonard sidelined when they host the Toronto Raptors on Monday (8:30 p.m. ET on NBATV).

San Antonio is leaning on power forward LaMarcus Aldridge in Leonard’s absence, and Aldridge delivered an average of 26.5 points and 10 rebounds in the first two contests while totaling four blocked shots. Aldridge helped hold the Minnesota Timberwolves to 43.5 percent from the floor in a win in the season opener and anchored an even better effort on Saturday, when his team held the Chicago Bulls to 37.8 percent from the field in an 87-77 triumph. The Spurs should have a much tougher time defending the Raptors, who exploded out of the gates with an average of 122.5 points in the first two games, capped by a 128-94 thrashing of the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

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Posted in NBA, NFL

2017 NBA Finals Preview

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors

If it feels like we’ve been waiting for Warriors-Cavaliers III all season, you’re right. One of the most anticipated clashes in NBA history is almost here and FanPicks.com will provide the NBA finals daily fantasy basketball contests all week. After trading championships the last two years, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers meet again to settle their difference in the NBA Finals. The Dubs have run through the postseason undefeated, while the Cavs have only dropped one game.

Where LeBron James might have been able to take breaks in the past against Harrison Barnes, he now has to stay locked and loaded at all times opposite Kevin Durant. The big guy setting screens and going goon for Golden State is no longer a leaping Australian (Andrew Bogut) but rather a ground-bound Georgian (Zaza Pachulia). The scrappy Cavs second unit of old has been supercharged with aging All-Stars in Kyle Korver and Deron Williams.

Heads-2-Heads

Starting Point Guard: Stephen Curry vs. Kyrie Irving

This is what you’re likely thinking:

Stephen Curry is the two-time defending MVP. He’s probably the greatest shooter of all time. He might be one of the best ball-handlers and passers the NBA has ever seen. This is no contest!

That may be true for most point guards opposite Curry, but not for Kyrie Irving. To whatever extent the former has dominated during the regular season, the latter has been more reliable (if not more impactful) in the postseason matchups. Over their eight previous Finals games against one another, Irving has scored more points, shot better from the field, made more defensive plays—including eight blocks at Curry’s expense—and turned the ball over far less frequently while notching nearly as many rebounds and assists as Curry has.

For all that Steph has done to separate himself from the competition through the bulk of the last three seasons, his signature explosiveness has yet to truly translate to the sport’s grandest stage. They’ve each scored 30 points or more three times in the Finals, but only Irving has topped 40—and hit a game-winner, at that. Keep in mind, too, that Curry has scored fewer than 20 points in a Finals game five times to Irving’s one. Granted, the Cavs don’t lean nearly as heavily on Irving as the Dubs have on Curry. Both have also been beset by injuries; Irving’s busted kneecap in Game 1 of the 2015 Finals knocked him out of the rest of that showdown, while Curry’s leg and ankle issues appeared to limit him throughout last year’s series.

Starting Shooting Guard: Klay Thompson vs. J.R. Smith

In broad strokes, Klay Thompson and J.R. Smith aren’t all that different on the court. They both stand in the 6’6″, 6’7″ range, carrying between 215 and 225 pounds on their expansive frames. They’re both streaky shooters who can turn a quarter, a half or a game with a few flicks of the wrist. Smith, to his credit, has in recent years shown both an ability and a desire to lock down his opponents the way Thompson has throughout his own rise to stardom.

Thompson is a more consistent defender than Smith, and though he’s been cold throughout these playoffs (14.4 points on 38.3 percent shooting, 36.4 percent from three), Thompson’s track record of explosive success suggests he’s the better bet of the two to be a bona fide game-breaker. But if there’s any area in which Smith may prevail, it’s in taking (and making) difficult shots—the sort that, with proper timing and placement, can swing a series.

Starting Small Forward: Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James

It’s been five years since Kevin Durant, then with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and LeBron James, then with the Miami Heat, faced off in the Finals. Back then, Durant outshot and outscored James, but lost the series in five while LeBron dominated in rebounds, assists and supporting cast. Much has changed for these two all-timers since their last championship showdown. No longer need Durant work so hard to create shots in isolation, now that he’s a cog in the Warriors’ finely tuned scoring machine. As was the case during the regular season, his playoff scoring is down from his OKC days, but his shooting percentages are through the roof.

James, too, has been a picture of efficiency during Cleveland’s postseason run. His 32.5 points per game are the second-highest mark of his career, and his attendant field-goal percentages (56.6 percent overall, 42.1 percent from three) would both be personal bests. He has done just that, with 8.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.2 steals and 1.4 blocks to boot. Durant is no slouch beyond scoring (7.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.9 combined steals and blocks), but for all his otherworldly ability, his command of the court still pales in comparison to James’ iron-fisted jurisdiction.

Starting Power Forward: Draymond Green vs. Kevin Love

Kevin Love isn’t exactly Superman for the Cavaliers, but Draymond Green may be his Kryptonite. Last year, Love nearly averaged a double-double while shooting 44.6 percent from three during Cleveland’s romp through the East. This time around, his numbers were remarkably similar across the board.

Against the Warriors, though, Love may be the closest thing Cleveland has to an Achilles heel. During the 2016 Finals, Golden State, with Green at power forward, held the Cavaliers’ stretch 4 to 8.5 points on 36.2 percent shooting (26.3 percent from three) and 6.8 rebounds while picking on him for his poor pick-and-roll defense. If not for Cleveland’s squeaker-of-a-win in Game 7—and the importance of Love’s 14 rebounds and late-game defense on Curry therein—we might be talking about a different third wheel playing with James and Irving right now.

Once upon a time, Green could’ve been trade bait for Love. Now, he’s not only one of the NBA’s premier defenders, but also arguably the most irreplaceable Warrior. He’s continued his run as Golden State’s primary playmaker (7.2 assists), rebounder (8.7 boards), shot-blocker (2.1 blocks) and thief (1.9 steals) while stunningly emerging from a season-long shooting slumber to lead his team—which also employs Curry, Thompson and Durant, in case you’ve forgotten—in three-point accuracy (47.2 percent). This time around, Green won’t be saddled with the sort of baggage (i.e., technical fouls) that dragged down him and the Dubs during the previous Finals. Then again, neither is Love guaranteed to miss a game (and be at all limited thereafter) by a concussion the same way he was last June.

Starting Center: Zaza Pachulia vs. Tristan Thompson

Salaries and national origins aside, Zaza Pachulia and Tristan Thompson aren’t so different. They’re both screen setters and rebounders, finishers and mixer-uppers, bigs who do the dirty work so their superstar teammates can thrive on the strength of their skills.

Both have also drawn unwanted attention in these playoffs for seemingly unsavory play—Pachulia for his hard closeout on San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard, Thompson for his Olynyk-esque yank on the arm and shoulder of Boston’s Amir Johnson. Pachulia, though, is more interchangeable than indispensible. The 33-year-old, who missed Games 3 and 4 against the Spurs with a right heel contusion, has averaged 6.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in 14.5 minutes per game while splitting duties at center with David West, JaVale McGee and Draymond Green.

In the East, Thompson has been nothing short of beastly. With Khloe Kardashian reportedly out of the picture, the 26-year-old has terrorized opposing frontcourts to the tune of 9.2 points on 60.0 percent shooting with 9.3 rebounds (4.2 on the offensive end)—not including the countless other loose balls he’s gotten his hands on in some capacity. Size-wise, Pachulia has about two inches and 30 pounds on his Cleveland counterpart. But what Thompson lacks in height and bulk, he more than makes up for in superior speed, agility, hops and, above all, durability.

Wild Card: Ian Clark vs. Channing Frye

At some point in this series, at least one of the head coaches—be he Tyronn Lue in Cleveland or Steve Kerr’s interim replacement Mike Brown in Golden State—will have to dig deep into his bench for reinforcements. In Golden State’s case, Ian Clark has been that secret weapon. The Belmont University grad has shot at a 50/40/90 clip—52.4 percent from the field, 40.0 percent from three and 93.3 percent from the free-throw line, to be exact. He’s played in each of the Warriors’ 12 games, scoring 7.5 points in 14.6 minutes, but hasn’t played any high-leverage minutes.

Neither has Channing Frye, who’s contributed 7.8 points in 13.0 minutes by draining 52.6 percent of his 3.5 three-point attempts per game. But Frye didn’t appear in Games 3 and 4 against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, and probably wouldn’t have set foot in Game 5 had it not been a blowout from the beginning. Nor is he likely to feature much in the Finals against the Warriors. He certainly didn’t last June, when he earned three straight DNPs in Games 5 through 7 after getting gouged across the board by Golden State in the first four meetings.

Odds are, the Dubs haven’t forgotten how to exploit the 34-year-old Frye, even if Steve Kerr isn’t the one pulling strings from the sideline. The Cavs can take their chances with him if they so choose. The Warriors, on the other hand, won’t have to sweat it if they need Clark to sop up minutes, say, when Steph Curry encounters foul trouble.

Posted in NBA

Playoffs 2017

NBA Conference Finals Preview

In the end, the top two teams from the East and the top two from the West punched their way into the final four still vying for that golden trophy. The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers could make history by facing each other in the NBA finals for the third straight year. Only the San Antonio Spurs and Boston Celtics can spoil that outcome. The Spurs and Warriors already met for Game 1 of their conference final with Golden State recording the victory. They are set to square off Tuesday night and FanPicks offers this fantasy basketball contest right here. Here is the NBA conference finals preview:

 San Antonio Spurs (61-21) vs. Golden State Warriors (67-15) 

Season matchups (2-1 SAS)

The San Antonio Spurs were on their way to a shocking win in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals until star small forward Kawhi Leonard went down with a sprained left ankle in the third quarter and the Golden State Warriors responded with a big rally. Leonard will be on the sidelines for Game 2.

The Spurs led by as much as 25 points and were up 23 when Leonard landed on Golden State center Zaza Pachulia’s foot after attempting a jump shot with 7:53 left in the third quarter, forcing him out of the game for good. Leonard scored 26 points in 24 minutes before leaving the opener.  The Warriors immediately went on an 18-0 run and outscored San Antonio 58-33 after Leonard’s exit en route to a 113-111 triumph. Power forward LaMarcus Aldridge tried to pick up the slack while posting 28 points but missed a tying 3-point attempt in the final seconds. The Spurs can look to recent history when starting a game without Leonard after crushing the Houston Rockets 114-75 with the star on the bench in the clinching game of the conference semifinals.

 

 Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31)  vs. Boston Celtics (53-29) 

Season matchups (3-1 CLE)

Powering to a pair of sweeps in the first two rounds, the Cavaliers meet a Celtics team that had to go the distance against Washington to reach the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2012. James is in this round for the seventh straight time, having last been stopped short of the NBA’s final four when the Celtics beat the Cavs in the 2010 East semifinals. Love has averaged a quiet 13.8 points in the post-season but should be eager to pick it up against a Celtics team that knocked him out of the 2015 playoffs when he became tangled with Olynyk and dislocated his shoulder. Horford is averaging 16.1 points on 64 per cent shooting, while Olynyk scored a playoff career-high 26 in the Game 7 clincher Monday.

Cleveland rang up 116.3 points per game against Boston this season. LeBron James led the Cavs with 29.3 points per game in the 4 matchups between the two teams. The first three games were decided by six or fewer before the Cavaliers rolled to a 114-91 victory in Boston on April 5, a win that at the time had the defending champions in the driver’s seat for the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage. But the Celtics did manage to rebound and earn the top seed in the East. Isaiah Thomas averaged 29.5 points for the Celtics vs. the Cavaliers.

Posted in NBA

NBA Playoffs 2017

Second Round Preview

Round number 2 is already under way, so lets get to it (Play now).

 Washington Wizards (49-33) vs. Boston Celtics (53-29) 

Season matchups (2-2 Tie)

The backcourt in this semifinal takes center stage in perhaps the most interesting of the four second round series in these NBA playoffs. Talk about this year’s Boston squad begins with Isaiah Thomas, who punches far above his weight class and has been stellar all season long. That will present a big challenge for the Wizards, who have a pretty similar makeup thanks to their All-Star backcourt. John Wall rightfully gets all of the headlines in D.C. but don’t discount the x-factor his wingman Bradley Beal plays each game in terms of scoring and defending. While both the Wizards and the Celtics had a few early stumbles initially in the playoffs, they quickly righted the ship to close out tough first round opponents and move forward to this one.

It seems highly unlikely that either Wall or Thomas wind up with this year’s MVP but they’ve had the kind of seasons where their candidacy should rightfully be taken quite seriously. Now we get to see the pair face off in what should be a meeting of two of the best backcourts in the league. If you’re looking for scoring in bunches, big-time transition three-pointers and some underrated play down in the paint, this is certainly the series for you.

 Houston Rockets (55-27) vs. San Antonio Spurs (61-21) 

Season matchups (3-1 SAS)

The consensus seems to be that the MVP race in the NBA came down to Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook and Houston Rockets point guard James Harden, but San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard might be the best player in the Western Conference playoffs. Leonard averaged 31.2 points on 54.8 percent shooting, six rebounds and two steals in the six-game win over the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round and consistently attacked the basket, leading to a 59-of-61 effort from the free-throw line.

Harden’s Rockets ousted Westbrook’s Thunder in the first round, but it’ll get more challenging now against Greg Popovich’s squad and system. But there’s no doubt about it that MVP favorite Harden is the focal point for the Rockets to win against the Spurs. He averaged 33.2 points, seven assists and 6.4 rebounds in the five-game, first-round win over the Thunder but went 13-of-41 from the floor over the final two contests while dealing with an ankle injury.

 Toronto Raptors (51-31) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31) 

Season matchups (3-1 CLE)

The Toronto Raptors took the Cleveland Cavaliers to the sixth game of the Eastern Conference finals last spring and get another crack at the defending champs one round earlier this spring. The second-seeded Cavaliers breezed to a four-game sweep of the Indiana Pacers in the first round while the third-seeded Raptors needed six to turn away the Milwaukee Bucks. The Raptors developed a stronger defensive identity with the acquisitions of P.J. Tucker and Serge Ibaka during the regular season and limited the Bucks to an average of 86 points while winning the final three games of the first-round series. The Cavaliers are not as strong on the defensive end and became the first team since the 1995 Houston Rockets to sweep a first-round series while allowing their opponent to score 100 or more points in each game.

 Utah Jazz (51-31) vs. Golden State Warriors (67-15) 

Season matchups (2-1 GSW)

The Warriors swept Portland 4-0 and have been waiting since Wednesday to find out their next opponent. They now have their answer in the Utah Jazz. Throughout the season, the play of the Jazz has been one of the welcome developments in the Western Conference, which has been dominated by the Warriors and Spurs as of late but have seen the door squeak open a tad thanks to a host of intriguing contenders. While Utah has been labeled a dark horse by some this postseason, a series win over the Clippers in which it overcame a number of issues has proven that this young team is firmly in the mix to make some noise in the second round.

Unfortunately the Jazz draw Golden State, who has been dealing with its own issues left and right but remain the best team in basketball by a good margin. Health has kept the Warriors from being the juggernaut everybody expected when the team was first being assembled, but make no mistake, they’re the prohibitive favorite in this series and this postseason for a reason. While many want to concentrate on the high-flying ways of their MVPs or the deadly shooting from the outside, this is a complete team that competes on both ends of the court to turn the occasional close game into a blowout.

Posted in NBA

Battle for Los Angeles

NBA Rundown

Here is the NBA rundown. All of Tuesday Fantasy Basketball matchups to get you ready for your cash drafts. Play at FanPicks now!

Chicago Bulls (33-37) vs Toronto Raptors (41-29)

Just when it seems like the Chicago Bulls are ready to pack it in and fall out of the postseason race completely, they pull off an impressive upset against a top-four team from the Western Conference. The Raptors are winners of back-to-back games and are putting themselves in a position to win with their work on the defensive end.

Detroit Pistons (34-36) vs Brooklyn Nets (13-56)

The Detroit Pistons are clinging to the No. 8 spot in the Eastern Conference and are hoping a win over the Phoenix Suns on Sunday was what the team needed to shake out of an offensive malaise that resulted in a three-game slide last week. The Nets may be eliminated from postseason contention but will still put up a challenge against Detroit, just as they have in tight losses the last two games against Boston and Dallas.

Phoenix Suns (22-48) vs Miami Heat (34-36)

The Miami Heat used a tremendous surge to jump back into playoff contention in the Eastern Conference but are finding it more difficult to hang onto one of the top eight spots. hoenix lost its last four games and is leaving veterans like Tyson Chandler, Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight on the sidelines while the younger players try to prove they can be building blocks.

Memphis Grizzlies (40-30) vs New Orleans Pelicans (29-41)

The Memphis Grizzlies are part of a three-team competition for the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference. They have won four consecutive games to put heat on the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder. New Orleans is playing well with four victories in its last five games.

Golden State Warriors (56-14) vs Dallas Mavericks (30-39)

Golden State endured a three-game losing skid prior to bouncing back with the winning streak and was sharp while rolling to a 111-95 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. Dallas is opening a pivotal four-game homestand as it attempts to chase down the Denver Nuggets for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

San Antonio Spurs (53-16) vs Minnesota Timberwolves (28-41)

The San Antonio Spurs own Minnesota and look to make it 11 straight victories in the series. San Antonio won this season’s previous three previous meetings by an average of 9.7 points behind the heroics of All-Star small forward Kawhi Leonard.  The Timberwolves are sliding out of contention for the final playoff spot in the West after losing three straight road games.

Milwaukee Bucks (34-35) vs Portland Trail Blazers (32-37)

The Portland Trail Blazers and the Milwaukee Bucks are both trying to secure a spot in the top eight of their respective conferences, and both are facing some stiff competition. The Trail Blazers will go for their fourth straight win and try to close the gap on the eighth-place Denver Nuggets in the West.  The Bucks dropped to 2-2 on their six-game road trip.

Los Angeles Clippers (42-29) vs Los Angles Lakers (20-50)

The Los Angeles Clippers are closing in on the fourth-place Utah Jazz in the Western Conference playoff chase.  The Lakers have lost five straight games during their fourth consecutive 50-loss campaign as they limp to the finish line.

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Monday NBA Late Games Preview

Here is an NBA rundown of Monday’s Late Night Fantasy Basketball matchups to get you ready for your cash drafts. Play at FanPicks now!

Denver Nuggets (33-36) vs Houston Rockets (48-22)

The Denver Nuggets could not figure out a way to slow James Harden on Saturday and ended up with a 109-105 home loss. The Nuggets will get another chance against Harden and the Houston Rockets for the back end of a home-and-home set.

Harden recorded his 19th triple-double of the season and NBA-record seventh with at least 40 points when he went for 40 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists at Denver on Saturday. The triple-double was the fourth straight and second in a row with at least 40 points for the MVP candidate, who has his team comfortably in the No. 3 spot in the Western Conference. The Nuggets are less secure in their standing and occupy the No. 8 spot with the Portland Trail Blazers just 1 1/2 games back – one in the loss column – entering play on Sunday. Saturday’s setback snapped a four-game winning streak for Denver, which plays nine of its final 13 games on the road beginning with Monday’s tilt.

Golden State Warriors (55-14) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (40-29)

The atmosphere won’t be nearly as hostile with Kevin Durant sidelined by a knee injury. The NBA-best Warriors only recently look like they’ve figured out how to win without Durant and will try to find a way to stop Thunder star Russell Westbrook. Durant tilted the balance of power in the NBA when he decided to leave Oklahoma City and head to Golden State last summer, and the Thunder fans expressed their displeasure when the Warriors visited the first time on February 11. Golden State breezed to a 130-114 win in that game and took each of the first three meetings this season by double digits, with Durant averaging 37.7 points.

The Warriors are a different team without Durant in the lineup, however, and Oklahoma City enters the Monday meeting playing some of its best basketball of the season with five straight wins sparked by averages of 26.6 points, 14.4 assists and 10.8 rebounds from Westbrook in that span. Golden State dropped five of seven games after Durant went down but has since won three in a row while Stephen Curry slowly regained his MVP form.

New York Knicks (27-42) vs Los Angeles Clippers (41-29)

The Los Angeles Clippers are trying to fight off the Oklahoma City Thunder in the battle for the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference and got some outside assistance in that quest when the Cleveland Cavaliers decided to take it easy on Saturday. The Clippers will try to turn that momentum into back-to-back wins when versus the New York Knicks. Los Angeles dropped three in a row before the Cavaliers came to town and decided to leave LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love on the bench, leading to an easy 108-78 win for the Clippers.

The Clippers could be in for another easy one against the Knicks, who dropped four of their last five games and count star forward Kristaps Porzingis as day-to-day due to a thigh contusion. New York has been off since suffering a 121-110 home loss to the NBA-worst Brooklyn Nets on Thursday which clinched the franchise’s fourth straight losing season.

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NBA Rundown

Thursday Fantasy Basketball Preview

The NBA rundown examines Thursday Fantasy Basketball matchups (Enter contest) to get you ready for your cash drafts.

Lakers vs Wizards

The Los Angeles Lakers solved some of their offensive issues on Tuesday, just in time to take on a team operating at the top of its game. The Lakers will try to come up with enough points to challenge one of the hottest teams in the East.

Los Angeles shot 52.8 percent from the floor in a 120-116 win over the Denver Nuggets. Prior to that, they lossed their last three road games with an average of 86.3 points. Los Angeles is going to need plenty of communication on the defensive end against the Wizards, who won 12 of their last 14 games and are averaging 111 points in that span. Washington shot 55.7 percent from the floor and placed six scorers in double figures, led by Bradley Beal’s 28 points on 12-of-18 shooting, in Tuesday’s 117-101 triumph over the New York Knicks.

Hawks vs Rockets

The reception for Dwight Howard figures to be rather chilly in Houston on Thursday night. Howard spent the past three seasons in Houston and it didn’t end well amid constant turmoil that included chatter that star guard James Harden didn’t like playing with Howard.

Howard signed a three-year, $70.5 million free-agent deal with the Hawks and excelled against the Rockets earlier this season when he recorded 20 points and 15 rebounds in Atlanta’s 112-97 home victory on November 5. He already has 31 double-doubles this season after having 38 in his final season with Houston. The Rockets rolled to a 105-83 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday in the opener of a four-game homestand and are hopeful they are about to regain their earlier form. Houston won 20 of 22 games during an electrifying stretch earlier this season but had lost seven of 11 contests before easily beating the Kings.

76ers vs Spurs

The San Antonio Spurs look to continue their mastery of Philadelphia. They’ve won the past 10 meetings against the 76er and outright annihilated them in last season’s final meeting when they prevailed 119-68.

The Spurs halted a rare two-game losing streak with a 108-94 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday and All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard was again superb with 36 points and eight rebounds. Leonard averaged 28.6 points and scored 30 or more points seven times in January, including a career-best 41-point performance against the Cleveland Cavaliers on January 21. Philadelphia will be without star center Joel Embiid (knee) for the sixth time in seven games and is looking to recover from Wednesday’s 113-95 loss against the Dallas Mavericks. Second-year pro Jahlil Okafor scored 16 points in place of Embiid but is averaging just 2.8 rebounds over his past four outings.

Warriors vs Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers were steamrolled by Golden State just five nights ago. Clippers coach Doc Rivers had the players watch the entire replay of the game Monday to remind them how badly they were whipped in the 144-98 defeat.

Golden State shot 62 percent from the field and made 17 3-pointers Saturday while defeating Los Angeles for the eighth consecutive time. Point guard Stephen Curry scored 43 points and made nine 3-pointers versus Los Angles and he was solid again Wednesday when he drained 11 3-pointers while scoring 39 points during a 126-111 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. The Clippers bounced back from their trouncing by posting a 124-114 road win over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. Forward Blake Griffin produced 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting against Phoenix in his third game since returning from knee surgery.

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NBA Rundown

Wednesday Fantasy Basketball Previews

The NBA rundown examines Wednesday Fantasy Basketball matchups (Enter contest) to get you ready for your cash drafts.

Pacers vs Magic

The Indiana Pacers ripped off three wins in four days to close out last week and are starting to show improvement on the defensive end. They are aiming for a fourth straight victory.

Timberwolves vs Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers just finished off LeBron James’ first losing month since 2006 with a 7-8 January and are searching for answers after dropping a 104-97 decision at the Dallas Mavericks on Monday.

Raptors vs Celtics

The teams enter February separated by a half-game in the East and within shouting distance of first-place Cleveland, but they aren’t necessarily trending in the same direction. The Celtics have the chance to achieve their first five-game winning streak of the season.

Knicks vs Nets

The New York Knicks hope to have star forward Kristaps Porzingis back in the lineup. Porzingis (illness) was a late scratch prior to Tuesday’s 117-101 loss at Washington, joining guard Derrick Rose (ankle) among the sidelined New York starters.

Hawks vs Heat

The Atlanta Hawks caught a break in the schedule with a much-needed two days off after batting to a 142-139 victory over the New York Knicks in four overtimes on Sunday. The Miami Heat are the hottest team in the Eastern Conference having won their last eight games.

Pelicans vs Pistons

The Detroit Pistons are struggling to put together a 48-minute effort at both ends of the court. They have dropped three games in a row, including a 113-109 setback at Boston on Monday in which they allowed Isaiah Thomas to score 24 points in the fourth quarter.

76ers vs Mavericks

It no longer matters if star rookie Joel Embiid is in the lineup, the Philadelphia 76ers believe they can win no matter who is on the court. Embiid is dealing with a left knee contusion and is not expected to join the 76ers on their two-game road trip this week, which begins against the Dallas Mavericks.

Grizzlies vs Nuggets

Mike Conley is fresh off the highest-scoring game of his career and the point guard looks to post another stellar outing. He poured in a career-best 38 points as Memphis improved to 2-1 on its six-game road trip with a 115-96 rout of the Phoenix Suns on Monday.

Bucks vs Jazz

The Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz will both be trying to emerge out of their respective slumps when they meet in Salt Lake City. The Jazz followed up a six-game winning streak with losses in three of the last four games, including a 102-95 setback against Memphis on Saturday in the team’s sixth game in nine days.

Clippers vs Suns

The Carmelo Anthony trade rumors keep lurking around the Los Angeles Clippers and their recent swoon isn’t going to do anything to halt the speculation. The Clippers dropped four of their last five games. The latest loss was an embarrassing 144-98 beat down at the hands of the Golden State Warriors.

Bulls vs Thunder

The Chicago Bulls have experienced plenty of tension over the past few weeks and now will spend tons of time with one another on the road. All-Star Jimmy Butler and veteran Dwyane Wade scorched their teammates after one poor effort last week, only to have Rajon Rondo chastise the duo for a lack of leadership in an Instagram post.

Hornets vs Warriors

The Golden State Warriors hope to see All-Star point guard Stephen Curry back on the court versus the Charlotte Hornets. Curry is recovering from a bout with the stomach flu that caused him to miss Sunday’s game against Portland and he is listed as questionable to play against the Hornets.

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NBA Rundown

Wednesday Fantasy Basketball

FanPicks.com has an NBA  rundown to get you ready for live fantasy basketball contests.

Kings vs Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers are mired in a funk and LeBron James is getting mighty antsy about it. Cleveland dropped five of its last seven games, including Monday’s 124-122 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Rockets vs Celtics

The Rockets have been exchanging wins and losses for the past seven games (3-4) and five of the results have been decided by at least 13 points.

Heat vs Nets

The Miami Heat picked up a signature win and found a third star to compliment Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside in a 105-102 triumph over the NBA-best Golden State Warriors on Monday. The Heat will try to push their season-best winning streak to five straight against the Brooklyn Nets.

Hawks vs Bulls

The Atlanta Hawks steamrolled over the Chicago Bulls for three quarters on Friday. They are now set to meet for a third time this season. Chicago’s reserves played a dominating fourth quarter to significantly close the gap as Atlanta claimed a 102-93 decision.

76ers vs Bucks

The Philadelphia 76ers continue to make stunning strides and look to lasso their 10th victory in 13 contests versus the Milwaukee Bucks. The 76ers will be without star center Joel Embiid (knee) for the second straight night, but his absence didn’t prevent the club from posting a 121-110 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.

Raptors vs Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies have had plenty of time to stew over their most lopsided home loss of the season. Legs should be fresh for their matchup with the Toronto Raptors. The Canadian team is coming off a 108-106 home loss to San Antonio on Tuesday and have lost three straight on the second half of back-to-backs.

Thunder vs Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans managed to earn a win without All-Star forward Anthony Davis on Monday but would prefer to have their best player available on Wednesday. Davis would serve as the last line of defense against Russell Westbrook’s drives to the basket.

Warriors vs Hornets

The Golden State Warriors haven’t dropped back-to-back regular-season games since April 2015 and will put that streak on the line against the Charlotte Hornets. The Warriors had their latest winning streak end at seven straight in a 105-102 setback at Miami on Monday.

Knicks vs Mavericks

The New York Knicks finally managed to pull out a close game on Monday, though it probably never should have gotten tight at the end in the first place. The Knicks will try to build a lead and maintain it throughout the fourth quarter this time versus the Dallas Mavericks.

Lakers vs Trail Blazers

The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off the worst loss in franchise history. They were routed 122-73 by the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, and the 49-point margin of defeat marked their second 40-point loss during a stretch in which they have suffered six defeats in the last seven games.

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NBA Rundown

Friday Night Fantasy NBA Preview

FanPicks.com has all of Friday’s basketball matchup ready for live Fantasy NBA contests.

Trail Blazers vs 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers are surging up the standings and continue to redefine the organization’s expectations for this season and the near future. The 76ers will try to match their longest winning streak of the season at three in a row and pick up their eighth victory in 10 games against the struggling Portland Trail Blazers.

Raptors vs Hornets

The Toronto Raptors scored at least 114 points in six consecutive games before running into the upstart Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday and failing to reach 90. The Raptors will try to find their offensive spark and earn a fifth win in six games in Charlotte.

Bucks vs Magic

The Orlando Magic did not fare well on their just-completed six-game road trip, going 1-5 while allowing an average of 113.7 points, and hope a return home can swing the momentum. The Bucks dropped three straight to fall below .500.

Kings vs Grizzlies

The Sacramento Kings are scuffling after a 1-6 homestand and the finale was the worst of the bunch as the team blew a 22-point lead and lost small forward Rudy Gay for the rest of the season. Gay tore his left Achilles’ tendon on a drive toward the basket during Wednesday’s 106-100 loss to the Indiana Pacers.

Nets vs Pelicans

The New Orleans Pelicans’ current six-game homestand is about to get much more difficult. The Pelicans hope to breeze past the Brooklyn Nets before the degree of difficulty increases dramatically.

Warriors vs Rockets

The Golden State Warriors had no trouble turning away a pair of playoff contenders in their last two games and are winners of five straight after sweeping a four-game homestand. The Warriors will try to keep that momentum going and avenge one of their few losses when they open a road-heavy portion of the schedule with a visit to the Houston Rockets.

Bulls vs Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks have experienced a lot of recent success against the visiting Chicago Bulls and look to post their sixth consecutive win in the series. The Hawks have been a hot squad but were derailed badly on Wednesday, when they suffered a 118-95 road loss against the Detroit Pistons.

Jazz vs Mavericks

The Utah Jazz are playing solid basketball as they shoot for their fifth consecutive victory versus the Dallas Mavericks. Utah is averaging 107.5 points during its winning streak, which began with an impressive triumph over Cleveland and includes a 33-point thrashing of Detroit.

Pacers vs Lakers

The Indiana Pacers are playing their best basketball of the season. They’ve recovered from a 22-point first-half deficit to record a 106-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday in the opener of a three-game road trip.The Lakers are sliding in the wrong direction with five consecutive losses.

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