It is officially NBA Finals Gameday as Game 1 will tip off Thursday night at 9:00 pm Eastern Time from Golden State. The two teams split the regular-season series, with each winning on the road, and both have been excellent on the defensive side of the ball all season long. Boston ranked as the best defense in the NBA with Golden State finishing right behind them in the regular season in defensive efficiency. The entire series will be broadcast on ABC so you shouldn’t have any difficulty watching it on your television. For those who want a comprehensive breakdown of the series to come, be sure to tune into our very own Brad Stonebreaker’s finals preview right here.
There were a few injury updates on Wednesday that will have implications on Thursday's Game 1, so let’s run through those before we move on to some other nuggets from around the league that you might have missed.
We’ll start with the home team in The Bay as Steve Kerr’s squad got some good news on Wednesday afternoon. Andre Iguodala (neck), Gary Payton II (elbow), and Otto Porter (foot) were all able to practice in full on Wednesday. They participated in Monday’s practice but were not able to scrimmage. They also participated on Tuesday, but it was a light day. Wednesday was the first day that the trio was able to scrimmage, which is a good sign for the Warriors. Their status for Game 1 will likely depend on how they recover, and if they can continue to improve as we head towards Thursday’s 9 pm tip-off. If the Warriors can get all three back, this would do wonders for their defense, especially with the addition of Payton II into the lineup, but getting any of the three back would be great for their depth off the bench.
For Boston, the big focus is on Robert Williams (left knee soreness) and Marcus Smart (left ankle sprain) but Sam Hauser has also been dealing with some right shoulder instability. The good news is that Smart and Hauser were not listed on the injury report as Wednesday came to a close, so those two should be available for Game 1. For Williams, things are a bit dicier as he continues to deal with pain in his left knee. Celtics coach Ime Udoka said that Williams will be day-to-day for the remainder of the postseason so don’t be surprised if he misses a game or two during this series. His status will continue to be determined by how he recovers after games, but The Timelord did say that he is beginning to get into a rhythm in terms of the things that he has to do to get himself ready to play. With three days off in between games, it is fair to assume that he should be ready for Game 1 on Thursday, but we will not know for sure until closer to tip-off so be sure to check back with us throughout the day.
NBA Draft Decisions
Wednesday was NBA Draft deadline day, where college players had to decide whether they would keep their names in the draft or if they were going to return to college next season. There were some big-name guys that decided to stay in school such as Gonzaga’s Drew Timme, who will likely be the preseason Player of the Year next season, Max Abmas, who was the star of Oral Roberts’ Sweet 16 run in 2021 and will try to repeat history in 2023, and Marcus Sasser, who could be the National Player of the Year at Houston by the time March rolls around. On the flip side, there were also a ton of players who decided it was time to make the jump to the NBA.
UCLA’s Jules Bernard was the last player to announce his decision on Wednesday, but he joined the likes of Duke’s Trevor Keels, Northern Iowa’s AJ Green, Georgetown’s Aminu Mohammed, Florida State’s John Butler, Colorado State’s David Roddy, and Michigan’s freshman duo of Moussa Diabate and Caleb Houstan, who all decided to remain in the 2022 NBA Draft. None of these guys are expected to be impact fantasy guys next season, but at some point in their careers, a few of these guys will be.
Other News and Notes:
- Nets defer 2022 first-round pick to 2023- The Brooklyn Nets chose to defer the acquisition of the Philadelphia 76ers’ first-round pick to the 2023 NBA Draft according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. They acquired the pick in the same deal that landed them Ben Simmons and sent James Harden to Philadelphia. This means that the Sixers will now have a first-round pick (No. 23) in this year’s draft that they weren’t planning on having. The Nets can also move the pick starting on the night of the draft, or if they choose to keep it, they will hope that the pick will move up the board depending on the success of the Sixers next season.
- Mavericks GM says team will acquire a center this summer- Dallas started Dwight Powell at center this postseason and they also played Maxi Kleber a lot at the five after the team traded Kristaps Porzingis to the Wizards at the trade deadline. As a result, the team was extremely lacking at the center spot, and it showed in the postseason. If the Mavericks are able to solidify a formidable center this summer, Powell’s fantasy value will disappear and Kleber’s value will also take a huge hit, so stay tuned for this summer in Dallas.
- Quin Snyder’s future in Utah unclear- This was the big news that dropped on Tuesday night, and things have been kept on the hush ever since. Snyder currently has one year remaining on his contract plus his option for the 2023-2024 season. Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the two sides are working through some philosophical issues and how they can work together moving forward to continue to build a championship-contending team. There is no timetable to reach a decision and talks are expected to continue, according to Wojnarowski. We will continue to monitor the situation as we get more information.
- Luke Walton joining Cavaliers as assistant coach- Former Kings and Lakers head coach Luke Walton has agreed to a deal to join J.B. Bickerstaff’s staff in Cleveland, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Walton was fired by the Kings in November and he will now get the chance to get back on the sidelines and re-invent himself with the hopes of one day being a head coach again.
- Joel Embiid undergoes successful thumb surgery- Sixers star Joel Embiid underwent successful surgery on Monday to repair a torn ligament in his right thumb as well as a procedure to fix his left index finger. According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, he is expected to be ready to go for training camp and the start of next season, which is great news for Philly fans. The big fella was fighting through a multitude of injuries this postseason, but if he is healthy entering next year, there is no reason that he can’t have another dominant season for the Sixers.