Here is what we know:
• All 16 teams that will be going to the playoffs. With Memphis beating a resilient Suns team on the field is set in both the East and West.
• Indiana (1) vs. Atlanta (8). With the Heat resting LeBron James and Chris Bosh then promptly losing to the Wizards the top two spots in the East are set. The Hawks were already locked into the 8 seed. This is great for Indiana in the same way Florida State’s football home opener is against the Citadel — it’s a tune up round where they can work out the kinks.
• Houston Rockets (4) vs. Portland Trail Blazers (5). Out west the middle of the field is set (as are the Spurs in the top slot), but everything else is up for grabs. This is a pretty interesting series. Can Portland slow the James Harden train with Nicolas Batum? Do you play more Jeremy Lin to exploit the “defense” of Damian Lillard or do you need Patrick Beverley on the court to try and slow Lillard on offense? How does Houston match up with LaMarcus Aldridge?
Aside that, pretty much everything is still up in the air.
In the East, Monday night’s win by the Wizards over the Heat not only set Miami as the second seed, it kept the dream of the Wizards slim chance of getting to the five seed alive. That Wizards win also kept Charlotte one game back in the battle not to be the seven seed and avoiding Miami in the first round. If the Wizards beat Boston on Wednesday they can finish no lower than 6th. The Bulls and Raptors both won on Monday keeping Toronto as the three seed. If Toronto beats the Knicks on Wednesday they are the three seed, if they lose and Chicago beats Charlotte then the Bulls are the three seed.
Out West, the Clippers slim hopes of the two seed are alive but they need to win their last two games then hope Oklahoma City loses to Detroit on Wednesday. Good luck with that. Locked in out West are the Spurs at No. 1, the Rockets at No. 4, the Trail Blazers at No. 6 and the Warriors at No. 6. Winner of the Dallas/Memphis game Wednesday is No. 7, loser is No. 8.
There are just two games on Tuesday night’s board but both have playoff Implications.
If the Nets beat the Knicks, the Nets become locked in as the five seed in the East.
If the Clippers beat the Nuggets, their slim hopes of being the two seed are still alive, lose and they are locked in as the three.
MILWAUKEE (AP) The Milwaukee Bucks say Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful for Friday night’s game against the Chicago Bulls with a sprained right ankle.
The All-Star forward got hurt in the second quarter of a 127-120 loss on Wednesday to the Los Angeles Clippers when he appeared to trip over teammate Shabazz Muhammad under the Bucks’ basket.
Antetokounmpo is fourth in the league in scoring at 27.3 points a game.
Anfernee Simons spent the last year playing high school basketball. But because he did so as a fifth-year prep after technically graduating from high school last year and turns 19 in June, he’s eligible for the NBA draft.
Following a path taken by Thon Maker and considered by Jonathan Isaac, Simons – as expected – is turning pro.
Jonathan Givony of ESPN:
Anfernee Simons will forgo his collegiate eligibility and declare for the 2018 NBA draft, he informed ESPN.
Simons informed ESPN that he will sign with agent Bobby Petriella of Rosenhaus Sports Representation
Simons looks like a mid-first-rounder, though his range is quite wide considering how large of a jump he’s making. Teams can learn relatively more about him in workouts and interviews.
A 6-foot-4 shooting guard who specializes in scoring, Simons is quick on his feet with a quick release off the dribble – with range from beyond the 3-point arc to an impressive floater game. Those floaters will be important, because Simons isn’t nearly strong enough for the NBA. He’s also a lackluster passer, though because of physicality concerns, no team will count on Simons to run an offense anytime soon, anyway. He’ll have time to develop as a distributor.
By signing with agents, Simons loses his college eligibility. Drew Rosenhaus, a big-name football agent, isn’t certified with the National Basketball Players Association. Petriella’s only NBA client has been Diamond Stone, a 2016 second-rounder who’s out of the league. They’re all in this bold venture together now.
As the NBA considers changing its draft rules for young prospects, Simons will be an interesting case study. He obviously meets the draft-eligibility requirements in the one-and-done era, but he’s also jumping from prep-school competition to the NBA. The league’s strength and nutrition programs should serve him well. His overall development could influence the wider debate.
In the midst of his historic 32-point, 30-rebound game, Dwight Howard picked up a technical foul for arguing about an uncalled foul when his shot was blocked.
Charlotte Hornets center Dwight Howard has been suspended one game without pay for receiving his 16th technical foul of the 2017-18 season, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.
Five players have been suspended 11 times under NBA’s current technical-foul policy, which went into effect before the 2005-06 season and suspends players one game for their 16th technical and another game for every other subsequent tech each season.
The full list of suspensions:
- Rasheed Wallace 2006-07
- Rasheed Wallace 2006-07
- Stephen Jackson 2008-09
- Dwight Howard 2010-11
- Dwight Howard 2010-11
- DeMarcus Cousins 2013-14
- Blake Griffin 2013-14
- DeMarcus Cousins 2015-16
- DeMarcus Cousins 2016-17
- DeMarcus Cousins 2016-17
- Dwight Howard 2017-18
The Hornets are already out of the playoff race, and Howard will serve the suspension against the tanking Grizzlies tonight. He loses $162,069 in salary, but the effects of this suspension are relatively minimal.
However, Howard will miss his first game this season. Playing all 82 games would have been quite an accomplishment at this stage of his career.
The Spurs reportedly held a players-only meeting to implore Kawhi Leonard to play. He reportedly defended his missing games due to injury. Even if his teammates believed his extended absence was justified, they surely wanted to know when it would end.
Apparently, they didn’t get an answer.
Jabari Young of the San Antonio Express-News:
According to sources, Leonard, who was caught off guard by the meeting, stood his ground. He spoke up telling his teammates that a return was still the goal. But Leonard offered no set date or guarantee about a return this season.
Leonard did receive support from some teammates, urging him not to return until he feels healthy enough, sources told the Express-News.
The meeting lasted roughly five to 10 minutes with no clear update on Leonard’s plans.
Leonard previously told teammates he planned to return to play, according to Danny Green (who, incidentally, denied the ESPN report). Later, Leonard said he planned to play soon. But despite reportedly targeting a return a week ago, he remains out.
No matter how hard anyone pushes, nobody can seem to get a straight answer – which only adds frustration.
Some teammates are apparently more understanding than others, though. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN characterized the meeting as “tense and emotional at times” with teammates “expressing frustration and confusion.” Young adds Leonard “did receive support from some teammates, urging him not to return until he feels healthy enough.”
I’m sure everyone wants Leonard back only once he’s healthy enough, but that’s a vague standard. The Spurs have reportedly cleared him. Leonard and his own medical team haven’t. It wouldn’t be surprising if his teammates are also divided on whether or not Leonard should play.
When will he deem himself ready? If this meeting didn’t yield an answer, I don’t know what will.