The Raptors rolled out their B-team as Dwane Casey channeled his inner Gregg Popovich and still almost beat the Spurs, but San Antonio’s next era of superstars prevented that from happening. Elsewhere, Jimmy Butler had the game of his life in a critical Bulls loss; and you should be riding the Willie Cauley-Stein Wave after things got too trill on Saturday night.
Blake Griffin will make his long-awaited return on Sunday, Brandon Knight and Deron Williams are shutdown candidates—as is Jose Calderon, meaning Jerian Grant should be a popular pickup—and Danilo Gallinari’s season has officially concluded, though it was over long before Gallo confirmed the news. Additionally, don’t be surprised if the Knicks play it cautious with Kristaps Porzingis, which would give contract-year Derrick Williams some real incentive to perform for fantasy owners as well as his own wallet.
Indiana @ Philadelphia: Pacers 109, Sixers 99
What You Need to Know: Grant was supposed to have a 25-minute limit, but he blew by it and posted his second straight solid game with 20 points, nine boards, three dimes, three triples and a block (five TO, 6-of-17 FG). He should have already been rostered in standard formats, so make sure he’s not somehow still available. He would have had a big night even with a healthy Hollis Thompson (illness) available, so that’s not a concern. Unbelievably, Landry—in 2016—is averaging 16.3 points and 6.3 rebounds on 58.7% shooting over his last four games after dropping 19&6 with two treys in the defeat. He’ll continue to hold value as a low-end big for points, boards and FG%, but he doesn’t bring anything else. Canaan (24 points, five 3PM) would be a more appealing long-ball specialist without the efficiency issues and if the Sixers played more than three games next week. For the third straight game, Smith had more shots attempted (13) than points scored (12) without a single steal. That’s not getting it done.
I would let someone else chase C.J. Miles after his unexpected outburst (25 points, 5-of-9 3PT FG, 21.5 minutes) vs. a porous Philly defense. Coming off the bench actually helped Myles Turner—who had been horrific over his previous four games—but he’s nowhere near the must-own player he was earlier this year. Hill (8.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists) and Ellis (11.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.3 steals) have gone cold over their last three games, so fantasy GMs need to evaluate their options carefully entering a do-or-die week.
Detroit @ Chicago: Pistons 94, Bulls 90
What You Need to Know: This was a devastating defeat for Chicago’s playoff chances, and what makes it far worse for Chicago is that Butler actually served the Pistons an enormous platter with his first career triple-double: 28 points, 17 rebounds, 12 assists, three steals and two blocks. The good news for fantasy teams is that the Bulls have no choice but to ride Jimmy until they’re eliminated from the playoff picture, and he looks a lot better over his last couple of games with averages of 23.5 points, 12.5 boards, 9.0 dimes, 2.5 steals and 1.5 blocks. Gasol’s poor shooting is (unfortunately) nothing new, but he stuffs the stat sheet everywhere (16 points, 14 boards, three dimes, four blocks, two 3PM) and is an obvious must-play even at less than far less than 100% with an ailing Taj Gibson (DNP, rib), an ineffective Portis and an inconsistent Mirotic, who managed six points on seven shots after back-to-back 28-point outings and is harder to predict than the day-to-day forecast. I feel your pain, meteorologists. Derrick Rose (elbow) didn’t play, and I’d be surprised if he was ready for Sunday considering he said he’s playing with one hand. Personally, I’d move on without regret, and there should be better pickups than E’Twaun Moore at this stage of the game.
Andre Drummond is now 3-of-20 from the foul line over his last two games, and it’s forced him to sit in favor of Aron Baynes during crunch time in both. If the Pistons make the playoffs, that will be an unavoidable flaming red elephant in the room. With yet another very solid across-the-board outing, Morris is hot at the right time, averaging 20.8 points, 7.0 rebounds, a block and 2.8 3-pointers on 55.2% from the field over his last five, including back-to-back games without a turnover. Harris (21 points, seven boards, four dimes, two steals, one block) has simply been a different player since arriving in Detroit, and he should be drafted as a top-50 asset next season.
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Toronto @ San Antonio: Spurs 102, Raptors 95
What You Need to Know: On a night the Raptors rested both Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, Toronto was surprisingly in it until the end despite enormous lines from both Leonard (33 points, six boards, seven dimes, three steals, one block, two triples, 10-of-17 FG, 11-of-11 FT) and Aldridge (21 points, 15 rebounds, one steal, 12-of-18 FG, 7-of-7 FT). Something to consider: San Antonio’s upcoming four-game week includes a back-to-back set, meaning Gregg Popovich is a stone cold lock to have some additional rest in the cards for his entire starting five.
On the second night of a back-to-back in a tough matchup, Jonas Valanciunas’ 16 points, six boards and two blocks on 8-of-11 shouldn’t be overlooked. In his last five games, JV is making his presence felt, averaging 13.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.0 blocks on 56% shooting. With 17 points on 6-of-10 from the floor, Norman Powell just keeps on truckin’ with averages of 14.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, a steal, 0.7 blocks and 2.3 3-pointrs, and the Raptors have four games on the schedule next week. Cory Joseph had 16 points and seven dimes in Lowry’s place, but he’s not worth a pickup, while Patrick Patterson, who bounced back with 12 points, seven boards, two steals and two triples is a potential streaming option next week for those in need of a 3-point shooting big man. Luis Scola (no points, 11 minutes (is being put in shrink wrap until the playoffs begin.
Sacramento @ Denver: Kings 115, Nuggets 106
Duds: Will Barton
What You Need to Know: Averaging 22.5 points, 11.0 rebounds and a steal in the back-to-back set without DeMarcus Cousins, Rudy Gay has been carrying the mail. He’s a definite candidate to be rested with the Kings out of the postseason race, but it’s worth noting Sacramento has no remaining back-to-back sets and their only remaining road games aren’t until the final two contests of the season. To the surprise of nobody, Cauley-Stein (shoulder) played well when given the opportunity, scoring 14 points to go with nine boards, three dimes, a steal and two blocks on 5-of-7 shooting in 39 big minutes. WCS should play a lot even once Cousins gets back into the lineup, while Kosta Koufos (13 points, seven boards, two blocks) should have his role reduced. Seth Curry’s hot first half led to George Karl freezing him out down the stretch—because of course—but the Sous Chef of the Curry house still cooked with 17 points, five dimes and two triples on 7-of-10 shooting. With Marco Belinelli and Omri Casspi likely out for the year, there should be plenty of room for Curry to operate in the kitchen.
After back-to-back games of 20-plus points, Barton has now missed 17 straight shots in his last two affairs. I’m sticking with what I’ve been saying repeatedly: I’d much rather have The Thrill’s teammate in Harris, who is—and has been—a much steadier asset in the second half of the campaign. Without turning the ball over, Jokic did a little bit of everything with six points, 13 boards, five dimes, a steal and two blocks without a turnover. Darrell Arthur’s (knee) absence helps Jokic stay on the floor with Joffrey Lauvergne in the rotation and Jusuf Nurkic (nine points, nine boards, one block) back from his illness. Kenneth Faried is going to be purposefully limited the rest of the way, failing to eclipse 25 minutes in any game since returning. As for Arthur, he has a history of lower body injuries and it’s possible he misses additional time. That makes him a potential drop in standard formats despite back-to-back strong games.
Miami @ Portland: Blazers 110, Heat 93
What You Need to Know: Playing their third game in four nights and the second of a back-to-back set without Dwyane Wade, it’s not surprising to see a lot of Miami duds in the box score. Luol Deng did what he’s been doing with Chris Bosh out of the lineup with 14 points, 13 rebounds and three steals, but Whiteside was the only real gem with 20 points, 14 boards, four blocks and an impressive 8-of-11 from the foul line. Whiteside was shooting 76.3% at the charity stripe coming into this one, so this isn’t exactly a new trend. Green predictably struggled after his 30-point fluke, but it was encouraging to see Richardson rebound in 30 solid minutes of action.
Fueled by a 6-of-6 performance from distance, C.J. McCollum filled it up with 24 points, seven dimes and four steals. Gerald Henderson is averaging 13.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and a three over his last four games, but he’s a no-upside player at a time when the waiver wire is ripe for plucking. Plumlee came out of nowhere for a huge night with 17 points, eight boards, five dimes, two steals and a block on 8-of-10 shooting, while Moe Harkless kept it moving and is now averaging 12.5 points, 6.2 rebounds, 0.7 steals and a block over his last six games. Al-Farouq Aminu has come back to life of late, and although he slowed down a little in the blowout, this type of versatility (eight points, eight boards, two triples, one steal, one block) is what gave him his initial appeal during the first half of the season.