There were only two games on the schedule for Monday night, and neither was all that close. While there was some early excitement in Denver thanks to “Logo Lillard,” Denver ultimately pulled away. As for Milwaukee’s win over Miami? That one was done by the first media timeout, with the Bucks now taking a 2-0 lead on the road. Below is a look that many of the day’s major storylines, including the first major individual award being handed out.
Chris Paul (right shoulder) not on Suns injury report
Phoenix’s point guard struggled through 36 minutes in Sunday’s Game 1 win over the Lakers after suffering a right shoulder contusion during the second quarter. On Monday it was reported that the Suns determined the injury, which was suffered when Paul collided with teammate Cameron Johnson, was a stinger. The All-Star point guard felt better the day after said injury, and he was not present on the injury report released by the Suns Monday night. So, playoff fantasy/DFS players should proceed as they normally would when it comes to Paul.
The Lakers did list Anthony Davis (sprained right shoulder) and LeBron James (sprained right ankle) on their report, but both are considered to be probable for Tuesday night. Those who have played fantasy the last couple of years have certainly gotten used to those two being listed as “probable” on a consistent basis, so you know to expect both to be on the court in their usual roles as the Lakers look to even the series.
Donovan Mitchell (right ankle) cleared for Game 2
There was some controversy Sunday night as, despite his appearing to be ready to return to action in the days leading up to Game 1 against Memphis, Mitchell was held out by Utah’s training staff. It was reported that Mitchell was none too thrilled with the decision, which is certainly understandable. Monday afternoon the Jazz took the step of announcing that he will be available for Game 2, which won’t be played until Wednesday night. No word of any kind of minutes restriction for Mitchell, but it feels safe to assume that at the very least he’ll be in the starting lineup. That would move Joe Ingles back to the bench, giving him more time on the ball as a result.
Jordan Clarkson wins Sixth Man of the Year
Also making news for the Jazz was Clarkson who, to the surprise of no one, was officially named the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year. He beat out Ingles and Knicks guard Derrick Rose, who finished second and third in the voting, respectively. Clarkson (407 points) received 65 of a possible 100 first-place votes, with Ingles (272 points) getting 34 and Rose (77 points) one. Rounding out the top five were Mavericks guards Jalen Brunson and Tim Hardaway Jr., with the former accumulating 67 points and the latter 24.
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Bucks 132, Heat 92: Milwaukee rolls to 2-0 series lead
Saturday’s series opener between the Heat and Bucks was close, with Khris Middleton‘s jumper with nine-tenths of a second remaining in overtime being the difference. There was no such drama Monday night, as Milwaukee scored 15 of the game’s first 17 points and never trailed. Giannis Antetokounmpo (31/13/6/3/1 with one 3-pointer) was more efficient than he was in the opener, shooting 12-of-23 from the field and 6-of-7 from the foul line. Meanwhile, Khris Middleton (17/2/3 with three 3-pointers) attempted just five field goals, making four.
And it didn’t matter because of the contributions of reserves Bryn Forbes (22 points, five rebounds and six 3-pointers) and Pat Connaughton (15/3/1 with five 3-pointers), who shot a combined 11-of-18 from three. As a team the Bucks shot 22-of-53 from deep, outscoring Miami by a 66-24 margin. Jrue Holiday (11/7/15/2 with one 3-pointer) fell one assist shy of the Bucks’ single-game playoff record, while Bobby Portis (11/5/0/1/1 with two 3-pointers) also gave Milwaukee quality minutes off the bench.
It’s worth asking whether or not Antetokounmpo’s impact on the defensive end has been the bigger key for Milwaukee, as Jimmy Butler wasn’t been able to do much of anything in the first two games of this series. After going 4-of-22 on Saturday, Jimmy Buckets shot the ball better (4-of-10 FGs) but failed to have much of an impact on the action. He finished with a line of 10 points, two rebounds, four assists and two steals in 32 minutes. The same can be said for Bam Adebayo, who tallied 16 points, three rebounds and four assists. While this line was better than what he produced in Game 1, Adebayo really didn’t have the impact that he’s capable of. This will have to change for both he and Butler if the Heat are to turn things around in Miami.
The Heat’s most productive players in Game 2: reserves Dewayne Dedmon (19/9/2 with one 3-pointer in 21 minutes) and Goran Dragic (18/2/4 with one 3-pointer in 24 minutes). Dragic being that productive doesn’t come as a surprise, but Dedmon? The 19 points are the most that he’s scored since signing with the Heat in early April. While things did get a bit chippy in the second half, neither team lost any players due to either injury or ejection, so everyone should be good to go for Game 3 Thursday night.
Nuggets 128, Trail Blazers 109: Denver withstands “Logo Lillard”
Portland not having an answer for Nikola Jokic comes as no surprise; there really isn’t a team in the NBA that has managed to slow down the man who’s considered the favorite to win the MVP award. He had another big night in Monday’s Game 2 victory, recording a line of 38 points (15-of-20 FGs, 6-of-6 FTs), eight rebounds, five assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes. The difference when compared to Game 1 for Denver, which managed to even the series at a game apiece: other players stepped up.
Michael Porter Jr. (18/4/1/2 with three 3-pointers), Paul Millsap (15/7/3/1), Aaron Gordon (13/6/2 with two 3-pointers), Facundo Campazzo (12/3/6/3/1 with two 3-pointers) and Monte Morris (12/1/7/2/1) all scored in double figures for the Nuggets, who shot nearly 53% from the field and 43% from three on the night. While Denver received balanced contributions from its supporting cast, Damian Lillard did not have as much help on his big night. Lillard shot 11-of-24 from the field and 11-of-13 from the foul line, tallying 42 points, four rebounds, 10 assists, one block and nine 3-pointers in 42 minutes.
Eight of those triples were made during the first half, but Denver did a much better job of defending Lillard in the second. Aaron Gordon was shifted onto Lillard, and with his size he was able to keep Lillard from getting clean looks from deep. Denver also called upon Shaquille Harrison, who did not play at all in the series opener. While Harrison was on the court for just 10 minutes, he did record two steals and gave the Nuggets another defender with size who’s capable of sticking with Portland’s guards. There’s hope that Will Barton will be back at some point, but Harrison may have earned himself another shot at rotation minutes with his showing Monday night.
While Denver finished the game with six double-digit scorers Portland had just three, with C.J. McCollum (21/6/2 with two 3-pointers) and Norman Powell (15 points, two blocks) joining Lillard. Jusuf Nurkic (7/13/1/0/1 with one 3-pointer) and Enes Kanter (4/5/0/0/1) both struggled defensively, with the former fouling out after playing just 25 minutes. And Carmelo Anthony, who scored 15 points in the first half of Game 1, was limited to just five, shooting 1-of-5 from the field. While this wasn’t a “must-win” for Denver, they could ill-afford to hit the road in an 0-2 hole. That fate was avoided, thanks to both Jokic and a supporting cast that managed to redeem itself after failing to have much of an impact in Game 1. Game 3 is scheduled for Thursday night in Portland.