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There were only two games on the schedule Monday night, with one team managing to extend its series and another moving one win closer to the second round. There was also some big injury news, with Philadelphia and Washington both losing starters and the Lakers and Celtics both having some injury concerns heading into Tuesday’s games.
Wizards 122, 76ers 114: Supporting cast steps up for Washington
Washington’s season was on the line Monday night, and their odds didn’t appear to be all that good. Ask most fans what would happen if Russell Westbrook shot 3-of-19 from the field, and Bradley Beal wasn’t much better at 9-of-23, and they’d likely assume that the Wizards were done. But thanks to the team’s supporting cast, Washington managed to stave off elimination for at least one more game. Beal (27/4/4/1/2 with two 3-pointers and seven turnovers) was the leading scorer while Westbrook (19/21/14/2) posted his 12th career playoff triple-double, and seven Wizards finished the game in double figures.
Rui Hachimura (20/13/2/1/1 with three 3-pointers) established a new career-high in rebounds, while the center tandem of Daniel Gafford (12/4/0/1/5) and Robin Lopez (16/5/0/0/2) played well with Joel Embiid sitting for most of the game due to a sore right knee. Embiid fell hard on his back late in the first quarter. And with the big man missing time earlier this season due to a back injury, the assumption was that he may have aggravated it. However that wasn’t the case, with the right knee being the concern, and now the question is whether or not Embiid will be able to play Wednesday night. Whether or not he plays, the Wizards’ lineup change paid dividends as Gafford (26 minutes) and Lopez (19) were both productive.
Alex Len checked into the game after Gafford landed in early foul trouble, but he played jut one minute and picked up two fouls before being replaced in the lineup by Lopez. At this point, Len may be a “break in case of emergency” player for the Wizards. Washington also has an injury concern ahead of Game 5, as Davis Bertans (15/4/0/0/1 with three 3-pointers) checked out during the third quarter due to a strained right calf. Should he either be limited or ruled out for Game 5, Raul Neto (11/3/0/1 with one 3-pointer) would be of even greater importance to the rotation. As for who would fill that void in the starting lineup, Neto appears to be the best available option.
As noted above Philadelphia played most of this game without Embiid, which ultimately meant more “small” lineups. Mike Scott (two rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block) played 17 minutes and missed all four of his shot attempts, and could be in line for a rotation spot Wednesday night if Embiid can’t go. Even with his poor offensive showing. Dwight Howard (1/4/2) played just 14 minutes, and it’s safe to assume that his playing time wouldn’t increase all that much if the MVP finalist is ruled out for Game 5.
Philadelphia managed to work its way back into the game in the fourth quarter thanks in large part to its bench, which was led by Tyrese Maxey (15/1/2/1/1 with two 3-pointers) and George Hill (14/1/2 with three 3-pointers). Both played 22 minutes Monday night, with Maxey doing so after getting just 11 minutes of run in Game 3. Tobias Harris (21/13/5/0/1 with one 3-pointer) had a tough night shooting the ball, as he was just 8-of-24 from the field, so that percentage did fantasy players no favors. Ben Simmons (13/12/3/1) posted a double-double but his struggles from the foul line continue. After going 0-of-9 in the first three games, his 5-of-11 effort Monday night actually qualifies as an improvement. Look for Washington to once again employ the “hack-a-Shaq” strategy in Game 5.
Jazz 120, Grizzlies 113: Utah holds on, takes 3-1 lead
With regard to playoff experience Utah has the edge, and that was quite apparent in both games in Memphis. Once again the Jazz executed better down the stretch, and as a result they’re taking a 3-1 series lead back to Salt Lake City. Donovan Mitchell shot just 8-of-22 from the field, but thanks to a 12-of-13 night from the foul line he finished with 30 points to go along with two rebounds, eight assists, two steals, one block and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes. His playing time has increased in each of the three games that he’s played in since returning from a sprained right ankle, and there have been no lingering issues with the injury.
Also big for the Jazz were Jordan Clarkson (24 points, six rebounds and four 3-pointers) and Rudy Gobert (17/8/1/0/2), with the latter scoring 16 points in the second half. And while Mike Conley didn’t have the most impressive night he posted a full line, finishing with 11 points, three rebounds, seven assists, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers. The former Grizzly made some big plays down the stretch, ultimately proving to be one of the biggest differences between the two teams.
Memphis’ problem down the stretch was ball security, as multiple possessions ended with a turnover rather than a shot attempt. Ja Morant (23/6/12/1 with one 3-pointer), Dillon Brooks (21/4/3/1) and Jaren Jackson Jr. (21/6/1/1 with three 3-pointers) led the way offensively for the Grizzlies, but their best performer in the fourth quarter was De’Anthony Melton. He scored all 15 of his points in the final frame, and also accounted for five rebounds, two assists, one block and three 3-pointers in 23 minutes. Melton, Grayson Allen (8/3/0/1/1 with two 3-pointers) and Desmond Bane (7/3/2/1/1 with one 3-pointer) all remain in the rotation, which essentially shrunk to eight Monday night.
Tyus Jones played just five minutes as the Grizzlies relied even more on Morant, as they were playing catch-up for most of the night. The combination of having just one day off and playing at altitude may get Jones a couple more minutes Wednesday night, but that won’t be enough to make him worthy of DFS consideration. Jonas Valanciunas (14/12/1/1/1) posted another double-double in his 35 minutes, shooting 6-of-10 from the field. After going 14-of-26 in the first two games of the series, Valanciunas was 11-of-19 in Games 3 and 4. This has coincided with the aforementioned Jackson Jr. seeing his shot attempts increase, as he has put up 29 (making 12) in Memphis’ last two games. Achieving a better balance between their two big men may be the key for the Grizzlies if they’re to get the series back to Memphis.
Lakers’ Davis, KCP both questionable for Game 5
The Lakers have two question marks ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Suns, as Anthony Davis (strained left groin) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (left knee contusion) were both listed as questionable on Monday’s final injury report. It was reported by Shams Charania of The Athletic that Davis was not expected to be available Tuesday night, but he’s officially listed as questionable. Should he not be able to play, Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris are the two players who will need to step up.
As for Caldwell-Pope, he said that his knee was feeling “much better” after sitting out Sunday’s Game 4 defeat. KCP would move back into the starting lineup if cleared, with Wesley Matthews (who isn’t a worthwhile DFS play, regardless of role) returning to the bench. For Phoenix, Chris Paul (right shoulder contusion) was listed as probable. Given how he looked in Game 4, Suns fans shouldn’t be all too concerned about him. And if there’s any trouble, Cameron Payne would be the player whose opportunities would increase the most.
Celtics’ Walker, Williams doubtful to play
Boston needs a win in order to extend its series with the Nets, and they could once again be down two rotation players for Tuesday’s Game 5. Kemba Walker (left knee bone bruise) and Robert Williams (sprained left ankle) were both listed as doubtful on the injury report, so unless something changes Tuesday afternoon they appear unlikely to play. With Walker sitting Romeo Langford started Sunday night, playing 26 minutes and finishing with a line of nine points, one rebound, one assist and one 3-pointer. Rookie Aaron Nesmith (11 points, two rebounds and three 3-pointers in Game 4) would also be in line for an increase in minutes.
Boston’s going to lean heavily on Jayson Tatum, with Marcus Smart and Evan Fournier also in line for increased touches, if Walker is ruled out. As for Williams, Grant Williams and Jabari Parker would figure more prominently in the rotation if the Time Lord is ruled out. In addition to the sprained ankle, he’s dealing with a case of turf toe that’s been problematic for quite some time. And that’s an injury that won’t truly be healed until Williams can get a few weeks’ rest. Nothing has changed for Brooklyn injury-wise, with Jeff Green (left plantar fascia strain), Alize Johnson (sprained left ankle) and Spencer Dinwiddie (partially torn right ACL) all ruled out.