Christmas and the NBA just seem to mix now, and unlike fantasy football owners basketball GMs can sit back and enjoy the action at a not-so-critical juncture of the fantasy season.
I hope you all got a chance to spend time with your family and friends, stuff yourself full of food and/or your beverage of choice, and get some much-needed rest and relaxation before we march toward the new year.
There were five games yesterday, and I’m going to give some quick hits and we’ll get the board set for Wednesday when it’s back to work.
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The Celtics rolled over the overrated Nets yesterday which led to some good but not great lines. Rajon Rondo scored 19 points with six rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two threes, Paul Pierce had just eight points but also had five boards and 10 assists, and Kevin Garnett scored eight points with 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Avery Bradley (shoulders) will not join the team on their upcoming three-game road trip, but he’ll be back to muddle things up soon enough. Jason Terry scored 11 points with three treys, four assists, and a steal and despite the ups and downs most owners should wait-and-see how he does when Bradley returns. J.J. Sullinger’s 16 and seven with a steal and block, as well as Jeff Green’s 15 points can be mostly disregarded in such a lopsided game.
Kris Humphries (ab strain) did not play and I suppose it gives some degree of explanation for his recent struggles, but this doesn’t really impact his fantasy value. He’s still a guy I have no interest in owning in most formats. Joe Johnson (12 points, three treys, 4-of-14 FGs) and Deron Williams (10 points, 3-of-7 FGs, six assists) look like a bad pairing, and Johnson’s contract is going to look hilarious in a few years. Give credit to Danny Ferry for getting out from under that shipwreck. Nobody stood out but disasters were averted, as Brooke Lopez went for 15 and eight with two blocks, and Gerald Wallace had 15 points, six rebounds and three steals in the loss.
Score One For The Old Guys
Don’t look now but the Lakers have won five in a row and things are starting to gel, which could be noteworthy when talking about Pau Gasol (13 points, eight rebounds, six assists, one steal, one block, one three). He is averaging 10.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.7 blocks in the three games since his return, playing 34 mpg during that span. He’s only posting late round value during that time because he is shooting 35 percent from the field and 64 percent from the line, but as he and his teammates get their collective feet underneath themselves there is a nice foundation for a return to early round value. Since the winning streak also corresponds with Pau’s return to action, the answer will likely be more Pau rather than less Pau and the buy low window is probably halfway open right now.
Steve Nash scored 16 points with six rebounds and 11 assists, Kobe Bryant scored 34 points on 14-of-24 shooting with five rebounds, one assist, and one block, and Metta World Peace scored 20 points on 6-of-11 shooting (including three treys) with seven rebounds and one steal. Jodie Meeks has not been living up to the hype, scoring just three points on 1-of-6 shooting in 22 minutes off the bench yesterday. Meeks was already going to have trouble even if Mike D’Antoni stole from Pau to give him time, since he’s a streaky player that is mostly one dimensional. I didn’t bid too heavy on Meeks for this very reason, and with Pau making his case effectively lately I probably won’t get hurt by the call.
Carmelo Anthony hit 13-of-23 shots for 34 points, and also added seven rebounds and three assists in the loss. J.R. Smith hit 10-of-23 shots for 25 points with three treys, five boards, and two steals, while Raymond Felton was also inefficient hitting just 5-of-19 shots for 10 points with six assists and two steals. Jason Kidd scored six points with six rebounds, seven assists, two steals, and two threes, and I’m fine with selling him high in advance of Iman Shumpert’s return.
The Heat beat the Thunder last night in a rematch of last year’s finals, and if LeBron James was playing with confidence last season then this year he has the look of a stone-cold killer out there. Confidence begets confidence, and he has the tools to will his team to a championship. I wouldn’t have put that crown on anybody’s head last season, and everybody else is just a cut below this season. James had 29 points, eight rebounds, nine assists, two steals, and one block, and Chris Bosh returned from an illness to post 16 points, six boards, and two assists with no steals or blocks. Mario Chalmers had a season-high 20 points with four treys, two assists, one steal, and one block, and it remains to be seen if this is a fluke or a sign that he’s getting a bit healthier. Dwyane Wade scored 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting with one three, five rebounds, three assists, and five turnovers with no steals or blocks, as he slowly rehabilitates his value after a brutal start.
The Thunder have been rolling through the NBA this season, but they get exposed when they can’t get the offense that they want and they make idiotic decisions to play guys like Kendrick Perkins (26 minutes, 1-of-5 FGs, four turnovers, five rebounds) heavy minutes. Russell Westbrook scored 21 points with 11 rebounds and two steals, but had just three assists and hit just 5-of-19 shots (10-of-12 FTs) to go with five turnovers. Of course, Kevin Durant hit 11-of-21 shots (2-of-4 3PTs, 9-of-11 FTs) for 33 points with seven rebounds and three assists to make Westbrook’s efficiency look silly, but this is not a Russell Westbrook issue. A properly trained point guard would be able to facilitate this far along in his career, but Scott Brooks’ inability and/or impotence in the teaching and playing time facets of the job are stunning. That there are basketball professionals floating his name as a Coach of the Year is the most recent testament to the ridiculousness of that award. Serge Ibaka scored 15 points with six rebounds and one block in 37 minutes, and Kevin Martin returned from his quad injury and scored 15 points with two threes and a steal in 35 minutes.
Rockets Dismantle Chicago
The Rockets made easy work of the Bulls last night, with four starters clearing 20 points each and combining to hit 33-of-53 shots from the field. In that group, James Harden scored 26 points with five rebounds, six assists, two steals, and one block, Jeremy Lin had 20 points with 11 assists, one steal, and one block, Omer Asik went nuts with 20 points, 18 boards, and three blocks in Chicago against his old team, and Chandler Parsons scored 23 points with four treys, five boards, two assists, and two steals in the win. Marcus Morris scored 10 points on 3-of-9 shooting with two treys, five boards, and a steal in 28 minutes, which is more or less par for the course for him lately. Carlos Delfino scored seven points with four boards, two steals, and one three, as he continues to wobble between good and bad games with no end in sight. Owners taking a flier on Greg Smith in the Rockets’ four-game week were disappointed, as the big man scored just four points with two boards in 10 minutes off the bench. Terrence Jones was sent to the D-League, so that removes one fringe player from the equation when considering Patrick Patterson’s foot injury.
The Bulls’ box score was a wreck, with just three players scoring in double figures in the 23-point loss. Marco Belinelli (15 points, two threes, three assists) has not been high on my list and he has showed why lately, with yet another slow one-dimensional game. Kirk Hinrich (four points, four assists) shouldn’t smell rosters in most 8- and 9-cat leagues, and the rest of the roster other than Nate Robinson posted pedestrian numbers. Joakim Noah scored eight points with nine rebounds, four assists, one steal, and two blocks, Luol Deng kept traveling through the meat grinder en route to 14 points, five rebounds, and two assists with 5-of-14 FGs, and Carlos Boozer scored six points on 3-of-11 shooting with three rebounds, three assists, and a steal. Robinson scored 27 points on 9-of-16 shooting with four threes, four rebounds, three assists, and one steal, and I’ll admit it’s been hard to justify my recommendations to hold the guy due to Hinrich’s general misery. Even though this outing came in garbage time, it’s good to know he has the capability to go off. We hadn’t seen that recently. Deng added an ankle injury to his shoulder issue, which means that Tom Thibodeau will likely play him 48 minutes per game for the next week and everybody will continue to wonder why Bulls players are always hurt. He’s a game-time call tonight against the Pacers.