There were only two games on the schedule Thursday with no in-game injuries to report, so this should be a breeze to fly through. For NBA news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here!
Wizards 111, Pacers 98
All-Star PG John Wall led the Wizards to their fourth straight win on Thursday, racking up 20 points with 12 assists, two boards, two blocks and a steal. He has scored 15 points with 10 assists in nine straight games, the longest streak in the NBA since Michael Adams in 1990. “I’ve never been even this close to winning this many games this early in my career,” Wall said. “We believe what we’re doing out there on the court,” (h/t Washington Post). Coming off surgeries to both knees over the offseason, Wall has never looked better.
Carmelo Anthony got the nod to replace Kevin Love at the All-Star game, so All-Star snubs Bradley Beal and Otto Porter made that decision even worse by combining to finish with 44 points and 10 3-pointers. According to my colleague Mike Gallagher, Porter is on pace to be the first qualifier ever to have 2+ 3-pointers a game, a true-shooting percentage above 64.0 and less than 1.0 turnover a game. Stud! The Wizards are 18-5 since the new year, so I just don’t get the Carmelo decision at all. OK, I’m done ranting.
Markieff Morris continued his strong run with 21 points, seven rebounds, two assists, two steals and three triples, while Marcin Gortat had an average night with 12 points, seven rebounds and a steal. The Wizards are one of just a few teams where every starter is worth owning in fantasy, but they don’t have a single player off their bench that is even close to being on the radar. That makes my life easier, so let’s move on.
I don’t understand the Pacers. They had a seven-game winning streak that ended on Feb. 8, and they’ve lost six games in a row since then. Paul George’s production has been all over the place, and he had his second poor outing in a row with 17 points on 6-of-19 shooting. “Just a spark,” George said after the game when asked what this team is missing. “Just more energy, more excitement. I think it’s like a cloud over us right now, a dark cloud where we’re just, we’re coming into the arena not expecting great things. And we gotta change that. I think, the second half of the season, that’s what we need to change.” Coach Nate McMillan hinted that George has refused to play as a small-ball four with Thaddeus Young (wrist) out, and as one of the most talented players in franchise history, PG-13 should shoulder most of the blame. Expect more after the break, assuming the Celtics don’t steal him at the deadline.
Thaddeus Young should be back after the break, so the good news is that I may not have to write about Lavoy Allen (knee) or Kevin Seraphin (nine points, five rebounds) again this season. Myles Turner looked great with 17 points, nine boards, two steals and a block, while Rodney Stuckey and Monta Ellis combined to score 21 points off the bench. C.J. Miles had an off night with six points in 27 minutes, but there are really only four Pacers worth owning right now and that’s George, Turner, Teague and Young in that order. Speaking of Teague, he had his second brutal game in the span of a week, scoring six points with five assists and three turnovers in 27 minutes. If you’re looking for a great buy-low target, Teague could be your guy.
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Bulls 104, Celtics 103
The Bulls were incredibly lucky to steal a win over Boston, as a terrible Marcus Smart foul call gave Jimmy Butler two free throws in the final moments to seal the win. Butler was playing in his second game in a row after returning from his heel injury (for the second time) and didn’t have restrictions, finishing with 29 points, seven assists, four rebounds, one block and two triples. Butler could be moved at the deadline and the Celtics are basically the only team that has been linked to him since the Wolves during the 2016 draft, so I can’t wait to see what happens. The Celtics are enamored with Butler and have the young assets and draft picks to put together an enticing package, so let’s see if Danny Ainge can work his magic.
Dwyane Wade missed this game due to an illness, so hopefully that means his sore right wrist won’t be an issue after the All-Star break. Michael Carter-Williams made another start in Wade’s place and was invisible with four points, six rebounds and three assists, but he secured a huge rebound late in the game that led to Jimmy Butler’s game-winning free throws. MCW isn’t a fantasy pickup. Rajon Rondo had such a Rajon Rondo line on Thursday, scoring zero points on 0-of-5 shooting with eight assists, seven rebounds and one assist in 20 minutes. If he’s not moved before the deadline, a buyout could be in his near future. Keep an eye on his Instagram…
Nikola Mirotic was a DNP-CD even though he was cleared to play from his recent back issues, but this likely means that Bobby Portis has potentially passed him in the rotation. Portis has looked solid in February and had one of his best games of the season against Boston, racking up 19 points with eight rebounds, one block and one triple. With both Mirotic and Taj Gibson’s (12 points, nine rebounds) expiring contract on the trade block, Portis is worth putting on your radar. Robin Lopez swung the position battle at center back in his favor with 15 points, eight rebounds and two blocks, while Cristiano Felicio finished with four points and five boards in 16 minutes.
Isaiah Thomas was basically the only starter that showed up for Boston apart from Amir Johnson (10 points in 17 minutes), as he racked up 29 points, seven assists and four 3-pointers. Thomas is scoring 29.2 points per game on the season, the highest scoring average by a Celtic in franchise history heading into the All-Star break. He also has 41 straight games with 20+ points, passing John Havlicek for the longest streak in franchise history per Elias. Meanwhile, Al Horford, Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart combined to score 19 points on 7-of-23 shooting. Yikes… Smart could lose a lot of value with Avery Bradley (Achilles) targeting a return after the break, but hold onto him just in case he’s moved at the deadline — Smart or Bradley would likely have to be included in any potential deal for Jimmy Butler.
Terry Rozier provided a nice spark off the bench with 11 points, three assists, three triples and a block, but hasn’t been consistent enough to deploy in most fantasy leagues. However, Kelly Olynyk has been on a heater and is absolutely worth owning right now. He finished with 17 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three triples on Thursday, giving him averages of 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.2 triples over his last five games. Ride him while he’s hot!