Oh how quickly a headline can change. The Pacers looked like they had a huge comeback win thanks to a Victor Oladipo eruption in the fourth, but that all changed when Bojan Bogdanovic made one of the biggest no-no moves in basketball when he lobbed a pass to Oladipo. That pass was picked off by Terry Rozier and led to a game-winning dunk with two seconds left. Here’s the video in case you missed it as it led to a thrilling 112-111 win for the first-place Celtics.
Thanks to 30 points in the second half, Oladipo finished with 38 points, five rebounds, one assist, three steals, one block and two 3-pointers in 35 minutes. There’s really nothing else to say about VO and you have to buy him as a possible first-round player going forward. In case you missed it last week, I went in depth on ‘Dipo so bang it here if you want to know why you should buy him.
The other big story for the Pacers was Myles Turner flopping with two points, four rebounds and two steals in 27 minutes. He didn’t play in the final 10 minutes and maybe his thigh injury was why — he was questionable to play. Turner was starting to heat up over his previous 10 games with averages of 16.1 points, 6.5 boards, 2.1 assists, 2.3 blocks and 1.0 treys on 51.7 percent from the field. Maybe he’ll heal up before Wednesday against the Hawks and his owners shouldn’t worry too much about the league’s leading shot blocker.
On the flip side of Turner was Domantas Sabonis, playing 29 minutes with 18 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and four turnovers. Over the last 10 games, Sabonis has played just 54 minutes next to Turner, but they do have a +7.4 net rating. He’s holding up just fine as a backup.
As per usual, Kyrie Irving was outstanding, finishing with 30 points, one rebound, four assists and five 3-pointers. He scored eight points in the final three minutes in clutch time, including two huge treys in the last minute. That’s no surprise because Kyrie has been stupid good in the last three minutes of clutch time this season. With less than three minutes left and a game within five, Irving has a 68.2 true shooting percentage (TS%) and a 58.9 usage rate. Yes, that’s high. Simply put, he’s an MVP candidate and he should continue to flirt with first-round value. To be clear, James Harden should be MVP to this point.
Jayson Tatum was ridiculous on efficiency again, making 6-of-8 from the field and all three from the line for 16 points with five rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer. Not only is he on pace to be one of the most efficient higher-volume rookies of all time, he’s one of the best scorers in the NBA with his 1.17 points per possession coming in at 95th percentile. Here’s what his Synergy play types look like:
He could be the most un-rookie rookie of all time and his owners can pencil him in for early-round value the rest of the way.
Marcus Smart was also very good with efficiency, making 5-of-6 from the field for 15 points with four rebounds, five assists, one steal and four 3-pointers. Although, his seven turnovers were a career high. Smart is what he is as he’s been able to rack up the stats while he’s still one of the worst players for field goal percentage. Al Horford just missed a triple-double with 14 points, 10 boards, nine dimes, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers. He’s been wonderful all year and he’s been remarkably consistent as an early-round value.
Hawks 110, Heat 104
The Heat were extremely shorthanded today as coach Erik Spoelstra basically went with a seven-man rotation. Goran Dragic injured his elbow in the last minute on Saturday and tried to warmup for this one, but he couldn’t give it a go. Despite the 110-104 loss to the NBA’s worst team, Josh Richardson went off yet again with 26 points, four rebounds, three dimes, three steals, two blocks and two 3-pointers. He just had a career-high 28 on Saturday and he has just been special over his last 11, averaging 16.7 points, 3.3 boards, 1.7 dimes, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks and 2.5 treys on 54.8 percent from the field and 81.8 percent from the line. He’s been a top-30 player per game over that 11-game span and his patient fantasy owners have to be loving J-Rich these days.
Tyler Johnson also had to start and fared well stats wise, scoring 19 points with three rebounds, two assists, two steals and four turnovers in 40 minutes. He’ll get a slight bump while the Dragon recovers and the same goes for Dion Waiters with his 23 points and five dimes in 36 minutes.
As for the frontcourt, Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo started with Olynyk struggling with his line of seven points, five boards, five dimes and two steals on 1-of-8 from the field. Bam was a little better with 11 points, 10 boards, one dime, one steal and two blocks. Both guys should have some value this week with four games. Jordan Mickey was also productive with nine points, 10 rebounds, one assist, one block and one 3-pointer in 24 minutes. As long as Hassan Whiteside (knee) and Justise Winslow (knee) are out, this trio should have a good chance to produce.
Another slow starter like J-Rich was Taurean Prince, but he busted out matching a career-high 24 points with seven rebounds, three assists, three blocks and four 3-pointers in 37 minutes. His December is pretty close to what he had projections wise with 14.7 points, 6.0 boards, 2.8 assists, 0.8 blocks, 0.6 steals and 2.1 treys on 49.5 percent from the field and 84.0 percent from the line. His percentages won’t be that good, but his defensive numbers should be better. He needs to be owned everywhere.
Besides Kent Bazemore missing a lot of shots this season, he’s been pretty solid in the counting stats. He put up one of his best lines of the year on Monday with 16 points, five rebounds, seven assists, five steals and two blocks. Baze was playing some power forward and he’s been every bit of a value pick, especially if you’re punting FG%. John Collins still has a minutes limit, scoring nine points with six rebounds and one assist in 18 minutes. He’ll probably be starting in the very near future, which means more stats are coming.
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Bulls 117, 76ers 115
Just give Nikola Mirotic the MVP already. The Bulls won their sixth straight with Mirotic exploding for 22 points, 13 boards, two assists, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers in 26 minutes. The Bulls had lost 10 straight before Mirotic debuted and now they’re 6-0 in one of the crazier plot twists of the season. It’s also worth a mention that he played next to Lauri Markkanen down the stretch as the PF-C combo, so it’s pretty clear these two can coexist. We’ll see if Mirotic gets traded, but he has to be owned. Also props to him for learning Greek, so now he’s fluent in Greek, Spanish, Serbian and English.
Bobby Portis also played really well with another double-double, scoring 12 points with 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal, one block and one 3-pointer in 22 minutes. Robin Lopez probably isn’t going to play 30 minutes per game all season and he dropped to just 22 on Monday with six points. Portis is still worth holding, but I’d bet he’ll have some consistency issues.
Justin Holiday has a neon green light and he was very good again with 20 points, two rebounds, three assists, one steal, two blocks and five 3-pointers He racks up the stats and he should continue to hold plenty of value. Plus, Zach LaVine is dealing with back spasms, so it’s probably going to be a while before he’s out there. That’s also good news for David Nwaba, who guarded Ben Simmons a lot and finished with 10 points, one rebound and two assists in 26 minutes. He’s said he likes to come off the bench, so don’t worry about him not leapfrogging Denzel Valentine. Nwaba should continue to close games and has some value in standard leagues. Kris Dunn has been great with another gem, scoring 22 points with four rebounds, six assists, two steals and two 3-pointers.
Joel Embiid still isn’t cleared for back-to-back sets yet, so he did not play after playing 49 minutes against the Thunder on Friday. He’ll be ready to roll for Tuesday against the Kangz. It was Amir Johnson starting the game with his four-point, two-board game, but Richaun Holmes stated the second half and turned in a solid game with 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one steal in just 23 minutes. Holmes does get some PF minutes at times and he’s still one of the best handcuffs in fantasy.
Ben Simmons is not a jump shooter. In fact, you’d probably be surprised how many regular “jump shots” he’s made of his 405 attempts from the field this season. 20? Nope. 10? Almost. It’s seven! Seven jumpers on 54 attempts for just 13.0 percent, which is just crazy. Besides that massive hole in his game, Simmons just missed a triple-double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, four blocks and three turnovers. He also made just 1-of-5 from the line, which dropped him to 54.6 percent on the season. His fantasy owners can’t really complain as he just racks up the stats.
The Homie Dario Saric also went off with 27 points, eight rebounds, one assist, two steals and three 3-pointers. His per-36 minutes without Embiid on the floor are pretty good at 17.5 points, 8.7 boards, 2.8 assists and 2.3 treys. Keep that in mind for DFS the next time The Process has to rest.
Wolves 108, Blazers 107
So much for a back injury on Jimmy Butler, who went off with 37 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and two 3-pointers. That slow start is way behind him as he’s shaping up to be a first-round player going forward. Jamal Crawford was also busy, scoring a season-high 23 points. His minutes are expected to be closer to the teens, but props to him for helping the Wolves pull off a comeback thanks to their 32-22 win in the fourth.
Not much going on for the Blazers, but they didn’t shoot a free throw in the second half. Not good. Coach Terry Stotts continues to use Zach Collins as a backup four and he’s played next to Al-Farouq Aminu, as well. Collins doesn’t have much value right now, but he’d probably be a big winner if Aminu got hurt. Jusuf Nurkic saw his minutes limit get lifted with 20 points, seven boards, one assist and three blocks.
Hornets 109, Knicks 91
The Knicks didn’t have the Melo magic in this loss with really just Michael Beasley showing up, scoring 23 points with nine rebounds, one assist, two blocks and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes. Kristaps Porzingis was ruled out before warmups, so it’s possible he misses additional time. Not much analysis needed here because Michael Beasley continues to soak up the usage. He’ll continue to have value while KP is out. Courtney Lee struggled with just two points and Willy Hernangomez isn’t getting power forward minutes.
Before Monday, Frank Kaminsky was awful this month, averaging 7.3 points, 3.3 boards, 1.1 assists, 0.3 blocks and 0.7 treys on 35.7 percent from the field. However, he busted out for a career-high 24 points with five rebounds, two assists, two blocks and four 3-pointers. We’ll need to see him do it again before declaring him a pickup. Jeremy Lamb also has been underwhelming and he’s a drop candidate in shallower leagues. Kemba Walker had another tough game with nine points, so hopefully this isn’t because of his shoulder injury from Friday.
Rockets 120, Jazz 99
The Rockets are just insane. Chris Paul still hasn’t lost and he went off again with 18 points, nine boards, 10 dimes, one steal, two blocks and three 3-pointers. He continues to be incredible without Harden, posting a +32.8 net rating without Harden. His per-36 averages are 28.6 points, 6.7 boards, 14.6 assists, 4.0 steals and 4.7 treys on 52.9 percent from the field and 94.1 from the line. Yep, that’s a 68.3 TS%. Crazy. James Harden is going to be playing through a knee injury, but that didn’t affect him too much with 26 points, six rebounds, six assists, two steals, one block and four 3-pointers. He’s not bad.
Oh and Clint Capela wasn’t bad either with 24 points, 20 boards, three assists and two blocks. Not bad for a guy with a heel issue and he continues to be an early-round player. Eric Gordon erupted for 33 points with seven treys. He has kind of struggled lately, so I would try to sell high off this explosion. Ryan Anderson also didn’t score and he continues to be only a borderline guy to hold in shallower leagues.
Not much else going on with the Jazz. Rodney Hood continues to be outstanding when he’s healthy, scoring 26 points with three rebounds, four assists, two steals and five 3-pointers. Ekpe Udoh battled foul trouble and scored just three points with five rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in 27 minutes. It’s been bad news for Alec Burks with only 16 minutes on Monday and 10 on Saturday, so he looks like a drop candidate. Joe Johnson is probably worth a look in deep leagues with his 12 points in 29 minutes.
Thunder 95, Nuggets 94
Russell Westbrook had one of his best games of the season with 38 points, nine rebounds, six assists, three steals, one block and one 3-pointer on 16-of-28 from the field. There’s really no analysis needed here as he will have his big lines to go with some brutal ones due to his inefficient ways.
Both Carmelo Anthony and Paul George struggled with Melo scoring only four and George scoring eight. However, PG did fill it up with six rebounds, three steals and two blocks, and those defensive stats have been his saving grace. As for Melo, it really makes a lot of sense to bring him off the bench. When PG and Westy are on the court together without Melo, they have a +9.1 net rating in those 196 minutes. With all three, it’s +3.3. Of course, Melo probably isn’t open to moving to the bench. I’d be worried about Melo, but not so much on PG. Dakari Johnson got another start with Steven Adams out, scoring eight points with three rebounds, one steal and one block. Pat Patterson only scored two points and OKC went with a lot of no-C lineups with Jerami Gran scoring eight in 25 minutes.
Torrey Craig is the new deep league target as coach Mike Malone trusts him a ton as he had him on Russell Westbrook a lot in this game. In his second start, Craig had 14 points, two rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block and three 3-pointers on 5-of-5 from the field in 30 minutes. He benefits from the Emmanuel Mudiay injury because Will Barton has to slide over to the one. Nikola Jokic may still have a limit, scoring 13 points with nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and one turnover in 25 minutes. He'll be going off soon enough. Trey Lyles continues to show he's earning minutes with 15 points, nine rebounds, one assist and three 3-pointers. He should still have value even when Jokic is healthy, assuming he plays well.
Spurs 109, Clippers 91
Not much analysis needed in the Clippers vs. Spurs game here. Kawhi Leonard is going to have a lot of limitations and played just 16 minutes with seven points, four rebounds, one assist and one 3-pointer. Bryn Forbes and Dejounte Murray also benefit while Danny Green is on the shelf, but it doesn’t sound like he’ll be out long.
The Clippers missed Lou Williams and they continue to be one of the most banged-up teams in the NBA. Besides Milos Teodosic, this is a situation you’ll want to avoid unless you’re using Jawun Evans in DFS. Austin Rivers also returned while C.J. Williams and Jamil Wilson saw extra minutes because of no Wes Johnson. This team is a mess.
Suns 97, Mavs 91
It looks like Alex Len has finally put Greg Monroe on the pine for good. Len went off for the second straight game with 14 points, 14 boards, four dimes and one block. He needs to be owned everywhere. Isaiah Canaan has also been big time in the last two games with a line of 17 points, four rebounds, six assists, three steals and two 3-pointers in 27 minutes. Devin Booker did some on-court work today, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens when he’s back because Canaan was added via the hardship exception. Adding Canaan isn’t a bad idea in a 14-team league. It’s become almost impossible to defend Marquese Chriss with Dragan Bender having another really good game — he played some five, too.
Maxi Kleber continues to show out and had another well-rounded line with six points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block. He’s certainly worth a look in 16-team leagues. Dennis Smith Jr. is getting close, so it’s probably time to drop Yogi Ferrell after his line of 13 points, six rebounds, five assists and one 3-pointer.
Warriors 116, Lakers 114
As for the game, Brook Lopez went down with an ankle sprain and needed some help off the court. It was Larry Nance starting the third quarter at center while Kyle Kuzma moved into the first unit. Julius Randle should also benefit while Lopez is out, so all three of these guys should be owned. Don't forget Kentavious Caldwell-Pope isn't going to play on Wednesday, so Josh Hart looks like a nice DFS punt. Nance straight up baptized KD here, too.
Brandon Ingram did have a cheek contusion, but he returned, looked fine and finished with 19 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals, two blocks and one turnover. He's heating up lately. You could say the same for Lonzo Ball with his line of 16 points, six rebounds, six assists, one steal, two blocks and three 3-pointers. He's still going to have a tough time meeting his ADP, but he could shed the fantasy bust label.
The Warriors are the Warriors and KD is not nice as he hit a game-winning jumper to cap his line of 36 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks, one steal and four 3-pointers in 41 minutes. He did struggle with his shot at just 10-of-29 from the field, but he made up for it at the line with his 12-of-13. Klay Thompson also struggled with his shot, making 6-of-24 from the field for 17 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and four 3-pointers. Of course, these two should have some big games on the horizon with Stephen Curry (ankle) out for a little while longer. Jordan Bell also pops on tape and he had another solid line of six points, one board, two assists and four blocks in 24 minutes.
The Warriors did also go no PG late with their closing lineup in regulation of Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson, Omri Casspi, Kevin Durant and Kevon Looney. They did close OT with Patrick McCaw, Klay, KD, Iggy and Bell before Bell fouled out.
Monday News and Notes
More bad news for the Grizzlies with Mike Conley (Achilles) out for at least two more weeks. The Grizzlies have won just two games since Conley went down back on Nov. 15 and they’re down to 9-21 in the standings. With him out, Tyreke Evans will continue to run the offense, assuming he can keep his hip healthy. Mario Chalmers has been brutal lately, making just 34.4 percent from the field this month.
Coach Kenny Atkinson wants Jahlil Okafor to get in shape before he earns regular playing time. Okafor has only played 48 minutes this season, but his plus-minus is among the worst in the league with a -39.3 net rating (88.0 O, 127.3 D). If you’re stashing, it might be a couple weeks before he has value.
Jabari Parker was assigned to the G League, so he's starting to ramp up. The BUcks will be very careful with him, so he probably won't be putting up value until March.
Carlos Boozer announced his retirement. Perhaps no player shouted “and one” more than Boozer in NBA history.