THE BIG CAT WINS
The problem with playing Philly in fantasy leagues is that sometimes things get out of hand too quickly, and your once extremely favorable matchup turns into a dud. That was the case for Kemba Walker (eight points, five assists), who was only needed for 20 minutes in the Bobcats’ 30-point win against the Sixers.
Al Jefferson made sure to do his damage quickly, though he did log 31 minutes without playing in the fourth quarter, finishing with 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting and 10 rebounds. He did not have a steal or block and owners have to hope he doesn’t lose focus on that end carrying so much of the offensive load. It’s also somewhat concerning that the Bobcats have a two-game deficit behind the No. 6 Wizards and no real shot of dropping out of the No. 7 slot. It won’t take much for them to see their playoff status finalized and that would be a key time for them to rest their MVP before the playoffs.
Josh McRoberts (ankle) was a late scratch and a game against the Sixers is a great spot to get a guy rest, so it’s unclear how serious the issue is. He was rolling prior to last night’s game and is worth a pickup if he was dropped, though owners will want to keep their ears to the ground about the injury, obviously. Gerald Henderson scored 14 points with four assists, one steal and a three to hang onto his low-end value, and owners can write off performances from the entire bench unit in garbage time.
After a feel-good set of games against the Pistons (win) and Hawks (loss), the Universe regained its balance and the Sixers became the worst NBA team in modern history once again. Michael Carter-Williams was the lone bright spot for fantasy owners, scoring 22 points on 10-of-18 shooting with seven rebounds, three assists and a block, while Thaddeus Young (11 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals, 4-of-13 FGs) and Henry Sims (15 points, six rebounds, one steal) did enough to get by.
James Anderson (zero points, three rebounds, two assists, 0-for-4 FGs, 25 minutes) and Tony Wroten (eight points, 2-of-8 FGs, four assists, 21 minutes) disappeared. Anderson has a two-week sample at just low-end value in 14-team leagues, heavily depressed by his recent slump, and Wroten hasn’t cracked the top-200 in a few weeks. Both profile to be late-round guys if they’re playing somewhat well, and both have a bit of upside if they get hot, but anything goes right now for a team this bad.
NO REST FOR THE WEARY
The Nets got run by the Knicks in the SEGABABA and fell behind the Bulls and Raptors by 2.5 games in the chase for a home court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. They also sit just 1.5 games ahead of Washington at No. 6, so there will be no rest for the weary veteran-clad team heading into the weekend. GM Billy King said that the Nets expect Kevin Garnett to return on Friday or Saturday, but it’s hard to project much for the future Hall of Famer beyond 15-20 minutes per game when he returns.
Losing by 29 points will leave a mark, and all owners of Deron Williams (12 points, zero assists, two threes, one steal), Shaun Livingston (four points, three boards, three assists, two steals) and Paul Pierce (eight points, four rebounds, one steal) can do is shake it off. The Nets have four games next week and nobody is getting dropped from lineups barring news of a potential absence, which may become a possibility if the Nets find themselves on an island in the No. 5 slot.
Owners should continue to watch Mason Plumlee (five points, four rebounds, one steal, 23 minutes) to see if he can hold low-end value as a schedule play, and the same goes for Andray Blatche after a miserable three-point, two-rebound night. Marcus Thornton (eight points, two threes, 21 minutes) got back on the floor last night after dealing with a back injury, but I’m not sure the schedule can help him without some help via those same potential absences.
MOVIN ON UP
The Knicks moved percentage points ahead of the Hawks with their win last night (and Atlanta loss), but their real threat is the Cavs who are two games back. Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points with 10 boards, two steals and one block, J.R. Smith went big with 24 points on 9-of-16 shooting, six threes, eight rebounds, six assists and a steal, and Tyson Chandler chipped in with one steal and two blocks to go with four points and five boards.
Raymond Felton left the game with a rib injury but returned during the fourth quarter with the game easily in hand, and his five points, three assists and one 3-pointer were yet another dagger to his value. Amare Stoudemire returned to action after a game off and scored 13 points with six rebounds and two blocks. With no more back-to-backs until the finale he should be locked into lineups this week.
The Knicks have just two games next week so owners need to consider benching or dropping anybody but Melo depending on format. Tim Hardaway Jr. (ankle) surprisingly played and had a great night, scoring 17 points with three treys. That’s all he’s good for on a good night so plan accordingly. Iman Shumpert had five steals to go with 10 points, three rebounds and two assists in 24 minutes, and he’ll need to make more noise before he gets any fantasy consideration around here.
THEY WENT TO JARED
Brad Stevens didn’t like what he was getting from most of his starters last night so he yanked them, but one way or another the Celtics didn’t have nearly enough push to push the Wizards. Rajon Rondo turned over the ball seven times and ended up with an otherwise fine 13 points, seven rebounds, six assists and one block. Jerryd Bayless was pulled after playing just 21 minutes, finishing with two points on 1-of-6 shooting, zero rebounds, one assist and three steals. Those are the breaks for a declining player on a bad team, and he’ll still be worth a look while Avery Bradley figures his ankle out.
Jared Sullinger was the winner of the Boston big man raffle, scoring 25 points on 8-of-15 shooting (1-of-2 3PTs, 8-of-10 FTs) with four rebounds and one steal. His fantasy deficiencies are well-chronicled this year, so Sully essentially needs to go on a big hot streak to be worth plugging into lineups.
It was hard to see how the Gilbert Arenas stained franchise was going to turn the page, but the Wizards have done exactly that behind the quietly elite play of John Wall and they’re finally back in the playoffs. Wall scored 13 points with three rebounds, 10 assists and two steals in their clinching win over the Celtics, but it was Marcin Gortat’s 22 and eight with three steals and one block that brought the hammer down on Boston last night.
Trevor Ariza scored 18 points with three treys, seven boards and one steal to keep owners happy, and Bradley Beal hit 7-of-8 shots for 19 points, one three, one steal and a perfect four freebies to cap off a very efficient night. Drew Gooden had just two points on 1-of-5 shooting with two rebounds and one block in 18 minutes, and though his two-week sample is good enough for low-end status in 12-14 team leagues he could be at the end of his run. Nene could return at anytime and this past week has been pretty brutal.
With the Wizards within two games of their neighbors above them and below them in the standings, generally speaking owners don’t have to be on DNP watch for at least a few games.
THE TEAM NOBODY WANTS TO PLAY IN THE EAST
The Bulls and Hawks game went pretty much as expected as Chicago easily dispatched an openly tanking team. D.J. Augustin (23 points, four threes, five assists, two steals) is rewarding the patient from a few weeks back, and Kirk Hinrich even got back on the wagon with 17 points, six assists, two steals and a three. We need to see more out of Captain Kirk before recommending him as a desperation spot play. Jimmy Butler scored 17 points with three treys and three steals, Joakim Noah went for a standard 10 and 10 with six assists and two steals, and Taj Gibson had two steals and two blocks to go with his 10 and seven. Mike Dunleavy hit two threes and had two steals to offset an eight-point night, and he’s still worth owning in 12-team formats.
PLAYOFFS? YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT PLAYOFFS? NO, REALLY, STOP TALKING ABOUT THE PLAYOFFS
Just like the Bulls, the Hawks fell into normal production patterns in their loss, with Paul Millsap (22 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, one block, one three) leading the way and Jeff Teague (21 points, three triples, eight assists, two steals) trying to make up for a lackluster year. DeMarre Carroll (eight points, six rebounds, three assists) has slowed down recently but owners have to hold with four games on the slate next week and a bounceback likely on the way. Elton Brand survived in a bad matchup with eight points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block, and he’s a must-add player if you need a big man in weekly leagues. Kyle Korver hit four 3-pointers for 12 points and four rebounds, and Pero Antic (10 minutes) disappeared along with Mike Scott (11 minutes) once again.
SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE
The Bucks had no shot against the Heat last night but everybody besides Khris Middleton (four points, 2-of-10 FGs, four rebounds, one steal), Giannis Antetokounmpo (five points, one three, 22 minutes), and John Henson (10 points, one rebound) was useful to fantasy owners. Ramon Sessions kept plugging away with 19 points, three rebounds, six assists, and one steal, Brandon Knight scored just 11 points with two threes and five boards but had a steal and block, and Jeff Adrien chipped in with 14 points, seven rebounds and a block.
Zaza Pachulia kept the good times rolling with eight points, 16 rebounds and four assists, but he’ll have a much harder time against the Bulls on Friday. On a busy 14-game night the only must-start player is Knight, and Sessions has been hot enough to get strong consideration. Middleton has been bad enough to be dropped but a bounceback wouldn’t be surprising after a seven-game stretch hitting just 34.6 percent of his shots. A date with the Heat certainly didn’t help matters last night.
GIMME OF THE NIGHT
The Heat rested Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen last night, and everybody’s numbers were down as they coasted to an easy win in Milwaukee. LeBron James scored 17 points with four rebounds, eight assists, one steal and one block, but best of all he continues to talk like a guy that wants to play most of the remaining games.
Chris Bosh scored 15 points with a steal, block and three but had no rebounds, and Mario Chalmers scored 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting with two threes, four rebounds, three assists and two steals to be the big winner of the night on that side of the box. Chris Andersen scored eight points with seven rebounds, one steal and two blocks, and he has been a mid-round value over the past two weeks while playing in a bunch of four-game weeks. He shouldn’t be on any waiver wires despite some risk of rest in the next two weeks.
The Pacers turned the tide tonight with their win against the Pistons, at least for one night, and the two teams remain tied in the standings. The Heat care less about home court, but they surely recognize the chance to step on a key opponent’s throat. That bodes well for everybody’s chances of playing just a little more than they would have if this wasn’t the case.
DUCK DUCK GOOSE
The Grizzlies are definitely laboring as they head down the stretch run, with Marc Gasol (18 points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal) not so far removed from knee and ankle injuries, Mike Conley (seven points, 3-of-15 FGs, eight assists) playing on an ankle he deemed 75 percent going forward, and every game seemingly a must-win situation. They fell into a three-way tie for the last two playoff slots in the West with their loss to the Wolves last night, though they probably have the best schedule between themselves, the Mavs and the Suns.
Zach Randolph was stifled to the tune of four points on 1-of-8 shooting, five boards, three assists and a block, and Courtney Lee showed signs that his recent uptick deserves at least a little bit of attention with 14 points, two threes, six rebounds and a steal.
SO NOW YOU WANT TO PLAY
The Wolves decided to play with some effort in last night’s win over the Grizzlies, and they enjoyed success across the box score with Kevin Love’s 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting, two threes, 16 boards, 10 assists, one steal and one block leading the way. Games like this might go a long way toward keeping him interested in playing out the slate. Ricky Rubio tweaked his ankle but returned to the game and finished with 14 points, three rebounds, seven assists, three steals and a three – which should be a pretty good indicator of where Memphis’ defense was at. Owners will want to make sure that he’s set to play on Friday, but so far there has been no talk out of Minny that he could miss that one.
Ronny Turiaf (11 points, seven rebounds, three blocks, 22 minutes) returned to dampen the mood surrounding Gorgui Dieng, who started and put up eight points, nine boards, one steal and one block in 26 minutes. Obvious situational decisions aside, I can’t see dropping Dieng when this is his nightly floor, and Turiaf is a night-to-night injury or shutdown risk. That said, Turiaf can be an interesting piece for owners looking for last-second blocks and boards so they could both end up helping owners down the stretch. Corey Brewer was quiet but logged 34 minutes en route to a pedestrian six points, one steal and one block. The minutes are more important than the production as the Wolves play four games next week and he should be able to justify a spot in weekly lineups as long as he doesn’t fall off a cliff.