Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) Kevin Love, Cavaliers get knocked around by Heat. Less than two minutes into Tuesday night’s game in Miami, Kevin Love slid over to try to draw a charge as Heat center Jordan Mickey went through him to try to finish at the rim. Because he got there late, Love was called for the blocking foul, but that was the least of Love’s problems.
On the play, Love took an inadvertent elbow to the face that left him with a loose tooth and bloody mouth, which sent him to the locker room. While he came back out and played in the second quarter, concussion symptoms from the blow had him out for the entire second half.
Without an effective Love for most of the game, the Cavaliers just looked flat. Defensively they were disinterested (like most nights), Jeff Green was off (2-of-10 shooting), George Hill wasn’t making an impact, Rodney Hood couldn’t fill Love’s shoes, and LeBron James was reminded Dwyane Wade is the greatest shot blocking guard the NBA has ever seen.
The loss was a reminder that the Cavaliers still stink on defense, and that unless LeBron is playing at an MVP level and lifting up their offense they struggle. Tuesday night the Cavaliers looked like a flawed team heading into the playoffs.
Tuesday’s defeat leaves the Cavaliers tied in the loss column with the Sixers for the third seed in the East (a race Toronto and Boston care about as both would like to avoid the Cavaliers for as long as possible). Wednesday night Cleveland faces a Charlotte team that has won four straight (all against tanking teams, but Kemba Walker has played well), while the Sixers tip-off against the Knicks. The Cavaliers have a tougher schedule the rest of the way, and the two teams play on April 6 in what could be a crucial matchup.
2) Damian Lillard drops 41 then bolts to be with wife for the birth of his child. The Trail Blazers tightened their grip on the third seed in the West Tuesday night beating the New Orleans Pelicans.
They did it because Damian Lillard went off before he took off. Lillard dropped 20 points on 8-of-14 shooting — in the fourth quarter. New Orleans put a quality defender on him in Jrue Holiday for most of that, but it didn’t matter, it was Lillard time and he was taking over. He finished the night with 41 points.
After the game, Lillard bolted from the team to get to his girlfriend for the birth of their son — which he said will be named Damian Jr. Lillard will not be in uniform when the Blazers take on the Grizzlies Wednesday night in a back-to-back.
Also after the game, the Blazers announced that Maurice Harkless will miss some time because he has to get his left knee scoped due to recurring pain. From the press release:
Portland Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless will undergo an arthroscopy Wednesday in Portland to remove a loose body in his left knee, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.
The timetable for his return will be determined after the surgery. Harkless gives the Blazers a solid 20 minutes a night off the bench.
3) LaMarcus Aldridge leaves Spurs’ game with a knee contusion, to have MRI. Spurs fall without him. Hopefully, this is nothing, just a bruised knee. The Spurs have more than paid their price in injured stars this season, maybe the basketball gods could give them a break.
All-Star center LaMarcus Aldridge left Tuesday night’s Spurs game in the second quarter with a bruised knee, and without him the Spurs could generate no offense and fell to a Wizards team without John Wall (or getting a big night out of Bradley Beal, it was the Washington bench that most impacted the game).
Aldridge will have an MRI Wednesday and then we will see how long he will be out. The Spurs can’t afford him to be out long, without him they struggle mightily to create good looks on offense.
The Spurs are currently tied for the 5/6 seed in the West with the Pelicans, and the Jazz are just half-a-game back and tied with those two in the loss column, however, the Spurs have the toughest schedule of the three the rest of the way. That includes Oklahoma City Thursday and the red-hot Rockets over the weekend. We’ll see if Aldridge will be available for those contests.