Paul George is back.
Before we can get to the return of Young Trece, a 10-game Saturday saw the Celtics keep pushing the postseason envelope, the Nuggets losing not one but two point guards, and that Joe Johnson trade between the Nets and Hawks is sure looking better than ever, isn’t it?
Steve Kerr gets the record for most wins by a rookie head coach in NBA history, the Reggie Jackson-Andre Drummond connection looks unstoppable and Dallas still can’t figure out what it wants to be with the playoffs around the corner.
It’s the Sunday Dose.
Clippers 107, Nuggets 92
Another day, another 20-rebound game for DeAndre Jordan. The big fella had 14 points, 22 rebounds and three blocks on 3-of-6 shooting over 34 minutes of action, and despite DJ’s horrendous free-throw shooting, he’s been one of the best value picks in fantasy basketball this season.
Chris Paul, who absolutely deserves to be in the MVP conversation even if he won’t win the award, continued his torrid season of dominance with 23 points, five rebounds, nine assists, two steals and four triples on 6-of-10 shooting, including 7-of-8 from the free-throw line and just a single turnover. Simply remarkable. Blake Griffin added 13 points, four rebounds, seven assists and a steal, but he played just 26 minutes, so at least there is an explanation for his lackluster evening. J.J. Redick, who is the hottest player in the NBA that nobody talks about, continues to light the world on fire, and he had 25 points, four rebounds, three assists and four triples on 8-of-17 from the field in the 15-point win.
Ty Lawson was a last-second scratch due to a forearm injury that he sustained on Friday against the San Antonio Spurs, and perhaps owners could have seen this coming if the injury had been announced more than half an hour before the decision to sit Lawson was made. Regardless, Jameer Nelson started in his place, but he departed after just 12.5 minutes due to a hip injury, and he did not return. Considering Nelson’s hip has been an issue recently, he could also wind up missing multiple games, leaving Erick Green as the next man up, but he had just 11 points, three assists and two triples in 25 minutes. Randy Foye’s playing time should increase if Lawson and Nelson both continue to sit, and considering Denver’s “strategy” of resting players despite being out of the playoff picture, that certainly wouldn’t be a surprise. Foye had 14 points, five rebounds, five assists, a steal, a block and three triples on 5-of-13 shooting over a team-high 35.5 minutes of action.
Danilo Gallinari (back-to-back, rest) was out in this one, and J.J. Hickson started in his place. The big fella registered seven points and six rebounds in 24 minutes, but Gallo should be in his usual spot for the rest of the season since Denver has just one back-to-back remaining. Kenneth Faried added a double-double with 10 points, 14 rebounds and a steal, but he did it on just 4-of-12 from the field. Although Faried has now registered 33 percent or lower shooting in two of his last four games, he’s also logged three double-doubles over that same period of time. He’s been a weird player to own all season, and nothing suggests that’s going to change as the season comes to a close. Meanwhile, Jusuf Nurkic continues to come off the bench, severely limiting his upside in the process. He managed a mediocre 10 points, six rebounds and a steal in 21.5 minutes, and considering he did it on 3-of-9 shooting, that’s really not going to help owners whatsoever.
Warriors 123, Mavericks 110
The Golden State Warriors are a machine.
Draymond Green (shin) made it back in this one with five points, six rebounds and a steal in 30 minutes, but the club was led by Klay Thompson’s 21 points, three rebounds, three assists, two steals and five triples. Thompson has become one of the game’s most versatile contributors at the shooting guard position, and those who reached for him in drafts this season have been rewarded—and then some. Although Stephen Curry had just 11 points on 12 shots in the win, the Warriors had seven different players, including 18 points apiece from Andre Iguodala and Marreese Speights, and Speights was particularly impressive considering he did his damage in just 10 minutes of playing time on a tidy 6-of-8 shooting while managing to foul out in the process. Bravo, Marreese.
Already without Chandler Parsons (knee), Rajon Rondo left with a hyperextended knee in the loss and wound up not returning. Although originally declared able to return, the Mavs opted to play it safe with RR and sit him on the sidelines for the remainder of the game. The good news for both Parsons and Rondo is the Mavs don’t play again until Wednesday, and that should provide plenty of time for treatment. Richard Jefferson started in Parsons’ place and contributed 13 points, three rebounds and three steals (two triples) in a shade under 27.5 minutes, while Rondo’s absence opens the door for more minutes from both J.J. Barea (14 points, three assists) and Devin Harris (six points, two dimes).
Hornets 92, Sixers 91
Al Jefferson (knee) finally took a seat in this one, and it’s been a long time coming if you’ve watched Big Al lumber around the court over the last couple of weeks. There’s been talk that Jefferson could be shut down with Charlotte’s playoff bid looking like a fantasy, and he’s not a player you want to be relying on right now for your squad. Bismack Biyombo started in Big Al’s place, and he was able to put up nine points, nine boards and three blocks on 3-of-4 shooting over 32 very productive minutes. As long as Biyombo doesn’t miss time due to the broken nose he sustained, double-B should be a solid source of blocks so long as Jefferson sits, and he’s providing some nice late-season value for a player who couldn’t even crack the rotation earlier in the campaign. If Biyombo misses time, it’s down to Jason Maxiell and Noah Vonleh. Yikes.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (ankle) is going to miss at least the next couple of games, and Cody Zeller (shoulder) is not going to play until Tuesday at the earliest, so Marvin Williams’ stock continues to look good for the short-term future. In the one-point victory, the former Tar Heel contributed 11 points, seven boards and a steal over 34 minutes, and that’s about as Marvin Williams-ish of a line as we’re going to see. Despite the frontcourt mess, Lance Stephenson played just six and a half minutes, and there’s no sense in trying to extract value where there’s none to be found right now. Without Big Al available, Kemba Walker (24 points, five boards, 11-of-21 shooting) and Mo Williams (18 points, five assists, 8-of-8 FT’s) were able to bring home the bacon.
The Sixers got just 10.5 minutes from Nerlens Noel before he left with a right eyelid laceration, but the good news is that it shouldn’t be something that prevents him from suiting up. Of course, Philadelphia is re-inventing the blueprint for decision-making in the front office, so we should really never underestimate what Sam Hinkie and co. have up their sleeves. Ish Smith led the Sixers in shot attempts with 20 (!!), and although he made just six of them, the speedster remained productive for owners with 15 points, nine rebounds, five assists, a three and a block in 33 big minutes. With Isaiah Canaan (foot) sporting a walking boot, Smith’s owners should keep putting him out there.
Robert Covington replaced JaKarr Sampson and got the start with Jason Richardson (rest) out, and he managed 15 points, six boards and three triples on an inefficient 4-of-11 shooting. After a hot stretch earlier this season, Ro-Co has been So-So when it’s mattered most. Jerami Grant got another start and had a wonderfully versatile line of 10 points, four rebounds, two steals and six blocks, and although he’s got 11 swats over his last five games, he did all of his damage in just two of them—five blocks in game one of the stretch before registering six on Saturday.
Magic 97, Bucks 90
Los Angeles Lakers fans are thanking the Orlando Magic for doing everything possible to help protect that top-five selection in this June’s draft. With a win over Milwaukee, Orlando has now won back-to-back contests, meaning Los Angeles is comfortably in front of the Magic for the league’s fourth-worst record.
As for the game itself, Orlando got 23 points, 10 rebounds, a steal and three blocks from free-agent-to-be Tobias Harris, and T12 now has two straight 20&10 games as his team closes out its campaign. Coming off a career-high 37 points, Nikola Vucevic dropped 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists on 10-of-17 shooting, and he’s he still doesn’t get the credit he deserves as a legitimate franchise building block.
Elfrid Payton’s excellence second half continued with 10 points, 11 assists three steals and a block on a solid enough 4-of-11 from the field, and although he won’t win the award, Payton is certainly making a statement as a Rookie of the Year Candidate at 21 years old. It didn’t take him long to become a known name among fantasy owners, and he’s going to be a popular pick in drafts for the 2015-16 season because of his ability to contribute across the stat sheet. Fellow rookie Aaron Gordon put up a career-high 12 rebounds, and considering it’s the second straight game he’s played 29-plus minutes, it sure seems as if he’s going to get plenty of opportunities over the last couple of weeks.
Ersan Ilyasova led the Bucks in scoring with 18 points, and when the sentence starts in that fashion, it’s incredibly unlikely that a win is going to follow. Ghostface Ilya added eight boards and two triples, but he’s an uninspiring option and doesn’t offer much upside. Michael Carter-Williams will never be someone who boosts your field goal percentage, but he continues to grow under the tutelage of Jason Kidd, and he posted a very nice line of eight points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and two steals in 34 minutes of action. If he was dropped in your league, make sure he’s on your team going forward. John Henson continues to be a per-minute machine with 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in 24.5 minutes, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be playing 30-plus minutes nightly on this Milwaukee team. Regardless, Henson should be owned and started in all formats.
Suns 87, Jazz 85
Coach Jeff Hornacek lavished T.J. Warren with praise before the game, but the rookie saw just 14 minutes in this game, scoring four points and collecting four fouls. Meanwhile, Gerald Green took full advantage of extended action with 24 points in 22 minutes, but he’s not someone owners should be looking to for value right now as he tries to work his way back into the rotation consistently. With Brandon Knight (ankle, heel) sitting out again and looking at a possible shutdown, Marcus Morris (four points, six rebounds, three steals, one block) drew another start as P.J. Tucker (nine points, nine rebounds, two steals) has been starting at shooting guard. Brandan Wright continues to play big minutes at center without Alex Len (nose) available, and with 14 points, three rebounds, three steals and four blocks on 6-of-10 shooting, Wright is showing why he’s going to be one of the more intriguing free agents on the open market this offseason.
For the Jazz, Rodney Hood (concussion) was cleared to start, while Trey Burke (back) was ruled out after being unable to get loose during warmups. Hood was impressive in his return with 17 points, five rebounds, a steal and a triple on 7-of-12 shooting, and Hood should be started across the board so long as he’s on the floor. Without Burke available, Dante Exum saw 35 minutes, but he registered just nine points, two rebounds and three assists. Gordon Hayward led the Jazz in the loss with 21 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals and two triples, while Rudy Gobert did typical Rudy Gobert things with eight points, 15 rebounds, a steal and a block. Expectations have risen so high for Gobert where that type of line is now considered a disappointment. That’s high praise.
Pistons 99, Heat 98
Before going off for 29 points, 11 assists and two triples on 11-of-18 shooting—before going off for the game-winning shot to complete an unbelievable comeback—Jackson came into this game averaging 17 points, 5.1 rebounds and 8.6 assists during his short tenure in Detroit. Those who doubted his abilities to thrive as a starter look foolish, and SVG’s going to have to open Tom Gores’ wallet to keep his point guard in the offseason.
Greg Monroe (knee) remains out and can’t be on rosters right now despite a potential return before the season ending, and Anthony Tolliver had 15 points (all three-pointers) in another start for Moose. Andre Drummond continues his assault on the glass after a ridiculous March with 17 rebounds in the victory (11 points, three blocks, 5-of-8 shooting) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who should be owned in every and any fantasy format, continued to swing a sizable stick with 19 points, three boards, three steals and two triples. Detroit has something cooking in the backcourt with Jackson and KCP moving into 2015-2016 and beyond.
Dwyane Wade (knee) and Hassan Whiteside (hand) both started in this game, but Miami is making their way toward the finish line and into the playoffs at anything but full strength, and this one has to be considered a particularly brutal loss considering the impact on playoff positioning and that key players were forced to play through pain. Wade continued his exceptional season with 24 points, two boards, three dimes, and a steal on 11-of-18 shooting, and while Whiteside keeps producing for owners who were smart enough to believe in him with 13 points, 12 rebounds and six huge blocks on 5-of-9 shooting, he had his stitches ripped open, putting his immediate question in status for Sunday’s game against the Pacers.
Chris Andersen sustained a left foot contusion in this one and was ruled out for the game, and it just seems Birdman can’t stay on the court for a sustained period of time anymore. Without his services available, Udonis Haslem could see more minutes, especially if Whiteside is unable to give it ago. Miami is also likely to utilize more small lineups without Birdman and possibly Whiteside, meaning Mr. I don’t know my role Mario Chalmers (nine points, two rebounds, one assist, one triple, five fouls, 24.5 minutes) and Henry Walker should see time and increased roles. Goran Dragic quietly contributed 21 points, seven helpers, a steal, a block and two triples on 7-of-12 shooting in what has to be considered his best game since March 25th, a span of five contests.
Wizards 92, Grizzlies 83
A bad loss for Memphis and an excellent one for Washington.
Paul Pierce (rest) sat out his third straight game as the Wizards put The Truth on ice for the postseason, and Nene (personal) sat out of this one as well. Washington would package both in bubble wrap if possible until the next stage of the season began, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see either sit out additional contests. Otto Porter saw 29 minutes in a start and responded with seven points, six boards and three steals, while Drew Gooden threw back the clock and went for 16 points (3-of-5 on three-pointers), three boards, two dimes and a steal in just under 30.5 minutes.
The real story was in Washington’s backcourt where John Wall (18 points, six rebounds, 14 assists, one steal) and Bradley Beal (20 points, five rebounds, two assists and a steal) combined for 38 points, 11 rebounds and 16 assists, and Wall is really coming on and leading by example for his team over his last several games. Over his last four games, Wall is averaging a ridiculous 15.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 14.8 assists and 1.8 steals. He’s picking a pretty good time to become a double-double machine, and although he’s made just five three-pointers combined over his last five contests, he’s also averaging 1.4 steals, 4.6 rebounds and 3.6 assists during that stretch, making him a productive player right now despite struggling from distance.
Zach Randolph battled through his back injury to go for six points and ten rebounds on 3-of-5 shooting in 31.5 minutes, but the Grizzlies lost Jeff Green to back spasms in this game and he wasn’t able to return. With Tony Allen (hamstring) also sidelined and not near a return, Courtney Lee (eight points, four rebounds, two steals, 35 minutes) and Vince Carter (five points, four rebounds, one three, 19.5 minutes) will each take on a bigger role. Memphis has to be hopeful that both Green and Allen can get right before the postseason begins, especially with how shaky the Grizzlies have looked over recent weeks.
Hawks 131, Nets 99
I hope they called this one the Billy King Bowl.
Paul Millsap injured his right shoulder and didn’t re-enter the game, but he said he was OK and Atlanta was running up the score, so there was no incentive for his return in this one. Still, owners have to watch for an update on either Sunday or Monday. The Hawks are off until Tuesday and Wednesday’s back-to-back set, but even if Millsap checks out alright, do not be surprised if Mike Budenholzer plays it safe and sits him on the bench. We’ve seen Millsap rest on nights he’s perfectly healthy, so don’t expect Gregg Popovich’s coaching doppelganger to jeopardize Millsap’s readiness for the first round.
Al Horford (20 points, two rebounds, three assists, three steals, one block, 10-of-13 shooting) and DeMarre Carroll (20 points, eight rebounds, five assists, one steal and four triples on 7-of-9 shooting) paced Atlanta in the blowout, and Jeff Teague joined the bonanza with 17 points, eight dimes and two steals of his own on 8-of-12 from the floor. Atlanta shot a blistering 59.8 percent in the win, and it’s not a surprise there were several players with some fat lines as a result. If you’re relying on a Hawks starter to win your fantasy league, you gotta take what you can get right now. Mike Scott (toe) returned in the win after being out since March 11, and he managed trip deuces (two points, two rebounds, two assists) and a steal over nine and a half minutes in his return to action.
Brook Lopez has been on fire, but he posted a dud in the second game of a back-to-back set with 11 points, six rebounds and no other statistics in 26 minutes. Deron Williams was also underwhelming with just 10 points, four rebounds and five assists in limited run, and with Alan Anderson (ankle) out for the Nets, Bojan Bogdanovic played nearly 33 minutes, scoring 19 points (three triples) on 8-of-11 shooting, and he’s one talented rookie who has flown under the radar this season.
Celtics 117, Raptors 116 (OT)
Evan Turner may have finally find a home. With 18 points, six rebounds and 10 assists (three steals) in the win, Turner is a must-own, must-start player at the most pivotal time of the season. That’s a weird sentence to read, right? It was even weirder to write.
Tyler Zeller (20 points, nine rebounds, 8-of-10 shooting) continues to look like far more than just a trade throw-in, but his value is going to remain inconsistent at best so long as he’s limited around 25 minutes of action. Marcus Smart had a strong night with 15 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals, a block (two triples) and the game-winning shot in 32 minutes, but he’s far too inconsistent to trust right now, and Avery Bradley (seven points, 3-of-13) had an off night in what has been a fine season.
Isaiah Thomas had his second straight 20-plus point night with 25 points, two rebounds, four assists and three triples on 10-of-19 shooting, and it’s looking like he’s more comfortable since returning from his injuries. Jared Sullinger (foot) played just under 12.5 minutes (no points, seven rebounds, two steals and a block in his second game back after he was supposed to be out for the remainder of the season, and Brad Stevens said that he wants the big man to get more practice time before he plays any kind of real role in a game. It’s going to be extremely hard to rely on Sullinger in any kind of fantasy league right now considering the uncertainty of the situation and the Celtics simultaneously fighting for a playoff spot, even if it goes against Trader Danny’s (Ainge) wishes.
For Toronto, Kyle Lowry (back) hopes to be back before the end of the regular season, but he was again out against Boston, and Greivis Vasquez (eight points, four rebounds, three assists) will continue to start in the interim, but he’s not a recommended option. With Lowry out, DeMar DeRozan (38 points, three rebounds, one steal) has been doing a lot of scoring, and he’s now averaging 31.0 points over his last four games. Amir Johnson (ankle) was not able to give it a go in this one, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him sit for a few games considering his history of ankle injuries and Toronto’s desire to have their key players at full strength before the playoffs begin. In his place, Tyler Hansbrough put up a surprising 18 points and eight rebounds (two steals, one block, 5-of-5 shooting, 8-of-8 FT’s) before fouling out, and he’s worth a look if getting an extended role down the stretch as the Raps prepare for postseason battle.
Sixth Man of the Year candidate Lou Williams poured in 27 points, four dimes, a steal, a block and three triples on 9-of-17 shooting, while Jonas Valanciunas logged a solid but unspectacular double-double with 12 points, 14 rebounds and a block on a meh 5-of-12 from the field.
Blazers 99, Pelicans 90
Twenty-one points, 12 rebounds, two steals, a block, one W. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the type of line that has become synonymous with LaMarcus Aldridge during his free-agent season. Although all indications are that LA will re-sign in Rip City, that won’t prevent other teams from attempting to change his mind. Aldridge has made his thumb injury a concern of the past, and he’s illustrated his worth as a top-15 pick. Damian Lillard, Aldridge’s partner in crime, chipped in 19 points and four assists, but he did it on just 7-of-19 shooting, and when you add four turnovers to that, it adds up to one unproductive line despite what it looks like in the box score.
Coming off of his 27-point affair, C.J. McCollum scraped up just 10 points in this one, but Chris Kaman throwing it in reverse for thirst with 16 points, 11 boards and two steals in 21.5 minutes off the bench made up for some disappointing efforts elsewhere. Nicolas Batum and his seven points, five rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes is not going to get it done.
In an uncharacteristic night for Anthony Davis, he had more shot attempts (20) than points scored (19), but he remained extremely productive with nine rebounds, two assists, three steals and four blocks in 37 minutes, and there isn’t a more valuable building block in the game today than AD. Although both Tyreke Evans (21 points, seven rebounds, nine assists, three steals, 10-of-18 shooting) and Eric Gordon (22 points, four triples, 9-of-16 shooting) went off for 20-plus points, the Pelicans can’t win without getting any kind of help outside of their Big 3, and that’s exactly what happened here.