Thu Mar 23 7:40pm ET
Field Level Media
The Philadelphia 76ers hope to have Joel Embiid and James Harden back in the lineup when they take on a resurgent Golden State Warriors club Friday night in San Francisco.
The 76ers blitzed the host Chicago Bulls 116-91 on Wednesday night despite Harden sitting out with left Achilles soreness and giving Embiid the second half off due to tightness in his right calf.
With Embiid's benching coming after the 76ers had built a 28-point halftime lead, Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers found himself spending more time explaining Harden's status moving forward than his star center's availability for Friday's second stop on a four-game trip.
"We don't want him playing if it's sore," Rivers said of Harden, who also missed last Saturday's game against Indiana before returning to play 47 minutes Monday in a double-overtime home loss to the Bulls.
"If it's sore enough, we still won't play him on Friday," said Rivers. "We've gone into the playoffs two years in a row with injuries. We all learned, we all know that you don't win in the playoffs if your key guys aren't healthy. Period. So we're going to do whatever we can to be healthy."
Harden had 27 points and Embiid a game-high 34 when the 76ers beat a short-handed Warriors team 118-106 at home on Dec. 16. Golden State was missing Stephen Curry (dislocated left shoulder), Draymond Green (bruised right quad) and Andrew Wiggins (strained right adductor) that night.
Golden State remains without Wiggins (personal matters) but managed to string together consecutive road wins for just the second time this season when it defeated the Houston Rockets 121-108 and Dallas Mavericks 127-125 on Monday and Wednesday, respectively, to cap a 2-3 trip.
The Warriors (38-36) now get four straight at home as they attempt to move up from the sixth spot in the Western playoff standings.
The win over the Mavericks, who have protested the game over a third-quarter miscommunication with the officials, was particularly big. Had the Warriors lost, they'd have fallen below Dallas and into a Western play-in spot with just eight games remaining.
Golden State got a boost from reserve Jonathan Kuminga in the two wins this week. Taking advantage of playing time that might otherwise have gone to Wiggins, the second-year player had 17 points at Houston, then 22 at Dallas, making 16 of his 20 shots.
"He's turned a corner," veteran Draymond Green said. "Just for him to continue to build the confidence like he's been doing has been great. He's defending using his God-given abilities. It's huge and it's helped us a lot."
The Warriors have given no indication when Wiggins might return, but the club issued a statement Thursday indicating that Gary Payton II, who has not played since being acquired from Portland last month due to core-muscles issues, has been cleared to practice Saturday leading into Sunday's game against Minnesota.
Like the Warriors, every contest matters for the 76ers (49-23), who enter the final 10 games of their season tied in the loss column with the Boston Celtics (50-23) as they wrestle for the No. 2 seeding in the East.
Philadelphia will also face the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets to complete its critical four-game trip before heading east for a home-heavy stretch in which the 76ers will host the Celtics on April 4.
Boston Celtics guard Derrick White had a good 18-point outing in Monday's Game 7 loss to Miami. 13 of his points came in the third quarter, and White even scored eight straight for Boston at one point to keep the team in the game before things fully unraveled in the fourth frame. The 28-year-old finished with 5-for-12 shooting from the field and went 2-for-9 from deep with a 6-for-7 record at the line. Boston's season finished with a big disappointment, but White should be happy with his contributions throughout the campaign, as he took another step forward in his development and even earned himself a spot on the All-Defensive Second Team.
Boston Celtics guard/forward Jaylen Brown was the team's leading scorer in Monday's Game 7 against Miami, but he also committed eight turnovers, which was one more than the Heat starters combined. Brown gave away the ball three times already in the first quarter and turnovers ended up escorting him throughout the game. He also had a poor shooting night, going 8-for-23 from the field and 1-for-9 from downtown during his 19-point effort. With Jayson Tatum hurting his ankle right at the start of the game, Boston needed Brown to step up and produce a special performance, but he fell well short of it and the summer could now be full of speculation surrounding Brown's future in Beantown.
Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum struggled to make an impact in Game 7 against Miami Monday after getting hurt on the very first play of the game. He rolled his left ankle and was seen grimacing in pain throughout the contest after that. Tatum had only 13 shot attempts and finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and one steal. It was a very disappointing finish to an otherwise outstanding campaign. Tatum's scoring numbers dropped during the postseason, but he was a double-double machine in the playoffs, averaging 27.2 points and 10.5 rebounds.
Miami Heat point guard Kyle Lowry logged very good minutes off the bench in Monday's Game 7 victory over the Celtics, scoring seven points with seven rebounds and five assists. He was a game-best plus-26 for the contest in just 24 minutes of action. It was a very up-and-down series for the veteran point guard, but he came up big when it mattered the most, and luckily for the Heat, Gabe Vincent had a great series. Lowry is averaging 8.8 points per game with 3.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists this spring on his quest to win his second NBA championship ring.
Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo continued to struggle from the field against Boston in Monday's Game 7, but he was still one of the key figures in a dominating win, finishing with 12 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and one block. Adebayo shot 4-for-10 from the field, but he was plus-22 across 43 minutes of action, which was the best mark among all starters. The two-time All-Star has hit only eight field goals with 26 attempts across the past two games and definitely needs to do better for Miami to have a chance of beating Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets in the Finals.
Miami Heat forward Caleb Martin wrapped up the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston with a 26-point effort, making history in the process. The 27-year-old broke John Starks' record from 1994 for most points in a Conference or NBA Finals. He had 135 points across the seven-game series, averaging 19.3 points a night with 60.2 percent shooting. On Monday, Martin shot 11-for-16 from the field with a 4-for-6 record from deep and had his third double-double of the postseason by finishing with 10 rebounds. In a game-high 45 minutes on the court, he also handed out three assists and recorded one steal. It's been a great story with Martin in these playoffs, and it would be even more special if he can keep his performance levels up and the Heat win one more series.
Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler scored a game-high 28 points and had seven rebounds with six assists and three steals as the team beat Boston in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals Monday. Butler again struggled from the field, shooting 12-for-28, but he had a nice 3-for-7 record from deep and made some very timely baskets. The Heat star ended up being voted the Eastern Conference MVP after averaging 24.7 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2.6 steals in the series. It's been a phenomenal playoff run by Butler and his team, and Miami is now only four wins away from glory.
Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine might be headed elsewhere sooner than expected. Insider K.C. Johnson is skeptical that the Bulls are committed to LaVine for the full length of his contract. The two sides agreed to a massive extension that keeps LaVine in Chicago through the 2025-2026 season. However, the Bulls could be headed in a right direction soon, which might mean they'd be willing to move LaVine. This core roster isn't getting any younger and LaVine is the best trade piece that the Bulls have right now. There is no word from the organization about trading LaVine, but it wouldn't be shocking to see it happen if things continue to go in the wrong direction.
Dallas Mavericks guard Kyrie Irving is set to become a free agent this summer. The superstar guard recently mentioned that he's in no rush to sign a new deal. It sounds like the 31-year-old is going to take his time before deciding where his next home is going to be. There have been rumors that the Mavs could do a sign-and-trade with Irving this offseason. One obvious designation would be the Los Angeles Lakers, so Irving can be reunited with LeBron James again. However, the Lakers don't have much to offer in exchange for Irving. There have been rumors that they'd do a sign-and-trade for Irving with D'Angelo Russell as the centerpiece of the trade. The Mavs have made it clear that won't be happening. It seems like the Mavs would be open to moving Irving, but they likely want a superstar in return.
Boston Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon (forearm) is expected to suit up for Monday's Game 7 against the Miami Heat. Brogdon only played eight minutes during Game 5 due to a right forearm strain. The 30-year-old was held out of Saturday's Game 6 victory due to the issue. His absence allowed more minutes for Derrick White and Marcus Smart in the rotation. It appears Brogdon will be ready for Monday's win-or-go-home matchup. The expectation is that he'll resume his role as the sixth-man off the bench.
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr seemingly confirmed Jordan Poole would be back next season. However, it appears others aren't so sure. With the Warriors looking to cut costs this offseason to avoid a hefty tax bill, John Hollinger of the Athletic believes the team may look to trade Poole ahead of the 2023-24 campaign. The 23-year-old averaged a career-high 20.4 points during the regular season while playing all 82 games. Yet, he shot 33.6% from deep, a dip from the previous year, and averaged only 10.3 points in the postseason. Without question, Poole could turn things around this season. But he may be a more efficient fantasy option by being the preferred scoring option for a new team.
According to Dan Bernstein of WSCR, many within the Bulls organization believe Lonzo Ball (knee) may never play again. The 25-year-old has been sidelined since January 2022 because of a right knee injury and eventually missed the entire 2022-23 campaign. There was hope he'd be back this year. However, he underwent a third surgery in March, a procedure that included cartilage being replaced. Nobody has ever returned from an injury of that magnitude. But dynasty managers should remain optimistic and keep the former UCLA Bruin on the roster until there is an official update on his future.
Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (shoulder) is available for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals versus Boston. He's been dealing with shoulder discomfort for a while, so his presence on the injury report isn't anything new. However, the 25-year-old has worn a compression shirt and played through it. Adebayo has averaged only 15.3 points versus the Celtics, his lowest in any series during the postseason. But he remains active on the glass and has a high upside, so DFS managers should never count him out.
Boston Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon (forearm) is questionable for Monday's Eastern Conference Finals finale against Miami. The 30-year-old is dealing with a forearm injury, which kept him off the floor for Saturday's win over the Heat. However, he's averaged only 6.8 points and shot 18.7% from deep during this series, so the injury is obviously negatively impacting his play. If he suits up, DFS managers should think twice before putting him in the starting lineup.
Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III isn't listed on the injury report for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals versus Miami. The 25-year-old briefly exited Game 6 on Saturday night after suffering a hand injury. However, DFS managers should plan on him being out there, considering a trip to the NBA Finals is on the line. Williams has averaged 9.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks during this series, making him an excellent fantasy option for those looking for value on Monday evening.
Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent (ankle) is questionable for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics. The 26-year-old didn't suit up in Game 5 because of a sprained ankle. However, he returned on Saturday night, finishing with 15 points in 41 minutes. It would be surprising if Vincent isn't available on Monday night, considering the Heat are hoping to earn a trip to the NBA Finals. But if he isn't, Kyle Lowry should slide into the starting lineup.
Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro (hand) won't play in Monday's postseason matchup with the Celtics. The 23-year-old hasn't played since Game 1 of the series versus the Milwaukee Bucks. Although he was recently cleared for non-contact basketball injuries, he's nowhere near ready to return. However, there's a chance Herro could be back for the NBA Finals. But Miami will need to secure one more win on Monday night after dropping the last three games.
Miami Heat guard/forward Duncan Robinson played a big role off the bench in Saturday's Game 6 loss to Boston, scoring 13 points on 5-for-11 shooting. He was 3-for-6 with the three-ball and bagged a pair of assists with one rebound in 20 minutes. Unfortunately for the Heat, Robinson couldn't hit from deep when the team needed it the most, as the 29-year-old sniper had a pair of open looks late in the game. Robinson has averaged 11.7 points in the Eastern Conference Finals, and he's also impressed with his playmaking, dishing out nearly three assists per contest.
Miami Heat guard/forward Max Strus contributed 10 points in Saturday's 104-103 loss to the Celtics, shooting 3-for-8 from the field and 2-for-5 from downtown. This was a good bounce-back effort from Strus, who has combined for only 12 points in the previous two games. He wrapped up his line with one rebound and three assists in 25 minutes. The 27-year-old sniper is enjoying a decent postseason, having averaged 10.5 points per game with 3.2 rebounds.
Miami Heat guard Gabe Vincent returned from an ankle sprain with a 15-point performance in Saturday's Game 6 loss to Boston. He had a quiet opening to the game but suddenly sparked into life with back-to-back threes early in the second quarter and produced a solid 41 minutes for the team. Vincent shot 3-for-6 in total from deep and had a 6-for-18 record from the field with four rebounds and one block. The 26-year-old has been outstanding in the series, averaging 17.0 points with 50 percent shooting from deep.