Mon Sep 21 11:35am ET
By BRIAN MAHONEY
AP Basketball Writer
Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James (23) celebrates with teammate Anthony Davis (3) after an NBA conference final playoff basketball game against the Denver Nuggets Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Lakers won 105-103. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis (3) celebrates after an NBA conference final playoff basketball game against the Denver Nuggets Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Lakers won 105-103. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis shoots over Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic (15) and Torrey Craig, right, during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Lakers won 105-103. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis fights for a loose ball with Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic (15) and Paul Millsap (4) during the second half of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Lakers won 105-103. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Los Angeles Lakers' Anthony Davis (3) shoots a 3-point basket over Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic (15) at the end of an NBA conference final playoff basketball game Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Lakers won 105-103. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Anthony Davis caught the ball deep on the left side with the Lakers losing and time about to run out.
The shot Davis made to win Game 2 of the Western Conference finals was from nearly the same spot and situation as one he attempted in his team's last game before the NBA season was suspended.
He missed that one, sending the Lakers to a 104-102 loss to Brooklyn on March 10, and was bummed about it for a few days.
Not LeBron James, though. That moment just reinforced what he already believed about the All-Star forward the Lakers had acquired to play alongside him.
''You're not going to make them all, but the belief to just take it and live with the results is what it's all about,'' James said.
Davis has been making plenty so far in the deepest postseason run of his career.
He has been the dominant player in this series, where the Lakers have a 2-0 lead with Game 3 scheduled for Tuesday night. Davis followed his 37 points in Game 1 with 31 more on Sunday, including the Lakers' last 10.
The No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, Davis had long been one of the NBA's best players by the time he got to Los Angeles last July. But it's one thing to be performing quietly in New Orleans, where just winning a postseason round made it a good season.
It's another thing to be playing with James, where not winning a championship makes it feel like a lost season.
''When I left, I just wanted to be able to compete for a championship, and I know that moments like this comes with it. Especially being in L.A., the biggest market in basketball,'' Davis said after the 105-103 victory on Sunday.
''I know the quote-unquote pressure is going to be on us, going to be on me, especially the first year with everything that happened last year, and then also playing alongside Bron,'' Davis said. ''I know he gets criticized more than any basketball player ever.''
So Davis felt he let down his superstar teammate on that shot against Brooklyn, when James drove into the lane and passed to him near the sideline. Davis had a wry smile on his face after the shot bounced off the rim, but it hid the disappointment he felt inside.
''LeBron will tell you. I mean, the first probably like four days, I was talking to him like, `Damn, I should have made that shot. I've got to make that shot,''' Davis said. ''He's like, `You're fine, you're fine.'''
Davis had never made a buzzer-beating shot in the postseason and had only one in his entire career. Now he's on a list of Lakers that have done it in the playoffs, a group that includes Hall of Famers such as Kobe Bryant, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor, along with noted clutch postseason performers Derek Fisher and Robert Horry.
''Just because his teams haven't been good enough to reach this moment doesn't mean that he's not that caliber of player,'' Lakers coach Frank Vogel said.
Without Davis' shot, the Nuggets would have been celebrating another comeback victory. They trailed by 16 points and had already erased deficits of 15 or more against Utah and the Clippers in the first two rounds, on their way to overcoming 3-1 deficits in both.
So even though they are down, they don't feel out.
''They had to rely on a great shot by a great player to beat us at the buzzer,'' coach Michael Malone said. ''But as long as we're putting ourselves in position to win games, that's all you can ask for.
''One thing I know about our group, even though we are disappointed, frustrated, angry, we'll use that motivation to come out and try to take Game 3.''
Those comebacks weren't against teams as good as the Lakers, who are 10-2 in the playoffs and have won six straight. With James controlling the first half of Game 2 before Davis took over in the second, they had the look of a championship team.
''When they're both going at the same time,'' Vogel said, ''we're near impossible to stop.''
Cleveland Cavaliers center Andre Drummond doesn't sound like he'll be signing a long term deal with the organization anytime soon. There was reportedly mutual interest in June, but it seems that the two sides aren't close anymore. There is a good chance Drummond plays out his final year in Cleveland and hits free agency in 2021. His market value hasn't been great, but he'll have extra motivation this season. Tristan Thompson is expected to sign elsewhere, so Drummond's value could be on the rise.
Boston Celtics center Daniel Theis (knee) underwent an arthroscopic procedure to remove loose bodies in his left knee. The team has not released an official timetable for Theis, but it was a fairly minor procedure. He is fully expected to be ready in time for training camp. Last season, Theis had some low-end value, but he probably won't be a favorable target on draft day in most formats. It really depends on how the Celtics decide to use Robert Williams going forward.
Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins mentioned that he is shifting his focus to improving his playmaking ability this offseason. "The next level is to start getting others involved and create more shots for myself or have the ability to do different things," Collins said. Last season, Collins increased both his block rate and his percentage from beyond the arc. Collins could end up being the whole package if he's able to improve his playmaking ability. He could be quickly climbing up draft boards.
Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) was doubtful for Sunday's NBA Finals Game 6 against the Lakers, but intends to play and is listed as active. Playing with a plantar fascia tear seems like a bad idea, but Dragic reportedly has been told he won't reinjure himself by playing. Dragic won't be near 100 percent and will likely be on a minutes limit, so you shouldn't give him heavy consideration for your DFS lineups. Kendrick Nunn will likely see fewer minutes with Dragic playing, though there's also the possibility that Dragic tries to play and the pain is too much. It's a complicated situation in a must-win Game 6.
Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) is listed as doubtful for Sunday's Game 6 against the Los Angeles Lakers. Dragic has been listed as doubtful each game since suffering the injury in Game 1. It sounds like Dragic will test out his foot pregame, but it's highly unlikely that he suits up here. Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn will gain the most fantasy value from the absence of Dragic. Herro is the better option between the two.
Los Angeles Lakers center Anthony Davis (heel) is listed as probable for Sunday's Game 6 contest against the Miami Heat. However, Davis mentioned on Saturday that he'd be fine for Sunday's contest. He is fully expected to play through the issue and should see his normal workload. LeBron James (groin) and Danny Green (finger) are listed as probable as well, but are expected to take the court on Sunday. The Lakers are a little banged up, but will play through the pain.
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (groin) and guard Danny Green (finger) are listed as probable for Sunday's Game 6 against the Miami Heat. Both players have been listed as probable throughout the series, but continue to play. Green was limited earlier in the series, but played 24 minutes during Game 5. James and Green are expected to see a full workload here.
Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney is expected to have a bigger role on the team next season. Head coach Steve Kerr mentioned that Looney is looking at 20-25 minutes per game for the 2020-2021 campaign. That is a fairly significant increase, but won't make a huge impact on his fantasy value. Looney has been unable to stay healthy and isn't a great option in Golden State. He could have deep league value, but probably not worth a look in 12-team leagues on draft day.
Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen is hopeful that he can prove the doubters wrong next season. "My expectations are even higher than ever now, just going back to my fourth year and performing at a high level," said Markkanen. Former head coach Jim Boylen failed to get much out of his young core during his time in Chicago. It sounds like Markkanen is already hitting it off with new head coach Billy Donovan. Markkanen has plenty of talent and should have a significant role on the team going forward. Fantasy owners could look at Markkanen as a sleeper player for next season.
Phoenix Suns center Aron Baynes could be headed elsewhere this offseason. The veteran was non-committal when asked about his future with the team. I loved my time in Phoenix, Baynes said. I knew what it was coming in here and I was able to go out there and take advantage of the role that was given to me throughout a number of different situations." Baynes will hit free agency after posting career highs in multiple categories. He could very well land a significant role on another organization. His fantasy value will be dependent on where he signs in free agency.
Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) won't suit up for Tuesday's Game 4 matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers. He tried to get up some shots pregame, but it was too painful. It doesn't look good for Dragic's chances of playing in this series, but consider him questionable for Game 5. Tyler Herro is expected to join the starting five, while Kendrick Nunn gets more minutes as well. Herro is the better fantasy option between the two.
Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (neck) is officially back in the starting five for Tuesday's Game 4 matchup against the Los Angeles Lakers. He has been sidelined since Game 1, so this is a big lift for Miami. It's unclear whether or not Adebayo will be limited, which makes him a risky DFS option. Kelly Olynyk will see his minutes and playing time decrease here. Meyers Leonard might fall out of the rotation completely.
Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (neck) is planning to make his return for Game 4 of the 2020 NBA Finals against the Lakers on Tuesday night, according to sources. Adebayo missed the previous two games of the series due to a neck strain that he suffered in Game 1, forcing the 23-year-old to exit during the second half of the contest. Adebayo's potential return to the lineup will be encouraging news for the Heat, who may be forced to play without guard Goran Dragic (foot) for the remainder of the series as he is without a timetable for a potential return. Adebayo will serve as a solid DFS option for Tuesday's game if he ends up making his return.
Los Angeles Lakers guard Danny Green (hip) was limited during the Game 2 victory over the Miami Heat. He took a hard fall during the second quarter and appeared to have injured his hip. J.R. Smith saw a few minutes after Green checked out, but it doesn't sound like Green will miss time. However, Green was awful during Game 2, so fantasy owners should not expect a bounce back performance out of him.
Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (neck) is listed as doubtful for Sunday's Game 3 against the Los Angeles Lakers. He was unable to play in Game 2 due to a neck sprain. Meyers Leonard drew the start, but only played nine minutes. Kelly Olynyk ended up benefiting the most by dropping 24 points in 37 minutes of play. He's looking like a solid DFS option, assuming Adebayo is sidelined again.
Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) is listed as doubtful for Sunday's Game 3 against the Los Angeles Lakers. He suffered a left plantar fascia tear and the Heat are not optimistic that Dragic will be able to suit up. Tyler Herro should remain in the starting five, while Kendrick Nunn will see more minutes coming his way. Both players could be interesting DFS options without Dragic on the court.
Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler (ankle) will suit up for Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. He sprained his left ankle during the first half of Game 1 on Wednesday. It was going to take a lot to keep Butler off the court for this game. Sadly, they will be without Goran Dragic (foot) and Bam Adebayo (neck) on Friday. Butler is going to be asked to do just about everything on offense for Miami.
Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (neck) has been ruled out for Friday's Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers. This is a huge blow to the Heat who are already without Goran Dragic (foot) for this game. Kelly Olynyk, Derrick Jones, and Meyers Leonard are expected to see more playing time on Friday. Jae Crowder could see more action as well, but it'll be hard to fill the void left by Adebayo. None of these players are great DFS options. Jimmy Butler is going to be asked to carry the load on offense.
Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) has been ruled out for Friday's Game 2 against the Los Angeles Lakers. He is still dealing with a foot issue that he suffered during the first game of the series. Kendrick Nunn is expected to join the starting five, while Tyler Herro gets more minutes as well. Both sound like appealing DFS options with the Heat roster banged up.
Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic (foot) could be in danger of missing Game 2 versus the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday. The veteran guard suffered a torn plantar fascia during the first half of Wednesday's contest. The team is going to continue to evaluate Dragic before deciding what to do. It sounds like his status for Friday's game is doubtful, but we'll wait and see. Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn would see a boost in fantasy value, assuming Dragic is out.