The Hawks locked up the No. 5 seed in the East on Tuesday night, Ty Lawson triple-doubled, Metta World Peace and Tyler Ulis went off, and Russell Westbrook finally got a well-deserved rest. Oh, and Tony Romo was a Maverick for a day, but didn’t play.
Hawks 103, Hornets 76 – The Hawks needed to win this one and did so in blowout fashion, securing the No. 5 seed and a meeting with the Wizards in the playoffs. That means the Hawks’ regulars are clearly in doubt for Wednesday at Indiana. The starters (Paul Millsap, Taurean Prince, Dwight Howard, Dennis Schroder and Tim Hardaway Jr.) all played between 22 and 26 minutes in a meaningful game last night, so the chances of them getting heavy minutes tonight is very slim. Prince is probably the most likely to play heavy minutes, while I’d be shocked if Millsap, Howard and Schroder even play. Mike Muscala, Ersan Ilyasova and Malcolm Delaney could carry the load for the Hawks on Wednesday, but all of them are a bit risky until we see what the Hawks lineup will be. Howard double-doubled and the Hawks got contributions all the way across the board in one of their easiest wins of the season.
The Hornets’ season is over and Jeremy Lamb led the way with 21 points off the bench, while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist scored 10 to lead the starters. This was a horrible team to use in DFS, as only Lamb answered the call. Nicolas Batum was particularly disappointing, failing to score in his 10 minutes of action. See ya next year, Hornets.
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Thunder 100, Timberwolves 98 – Russell Westbrook took a much-deserved night off and Victor Oladipo hit 8-of-16 shots for 20 points, nine boards and six assists, but also had eight turnovers. Domantas Sabonis returned to the starting lineup and racked up 19 points and nine boards, making him a savvy fantasy play, while none of the other Thunder did enough to warrant space here. Norris Cole played 23 minutes and easily outshined starting point guard Semaj Christon, but still managed just 12 points and three assists in the tough win. The Thunder host the Nuggets on Wednesday night, but my guess is Westbrook will sit that one out as well. It’s hard to be mad at him, as he has crushed it all season long and didn’t miss his first game until last night.
Tom Thibodeau’s Timberwolves have nothing to play for, but he simply doesn’t believe in resting guys. The four key starters all played between 36 and 40 minutes and the game went down to the wire. Karl-Anthony Towns had 26 points and 12 boards, Gorgui Dieng had 19 points, eight boards and a great line, Andrew Wiggins scored 18, and Ricky Rubio double-doubled with 14 points and 10 dimes. I don’t know what Thibodeau’s plan is for tonight at Houston, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him play his studs in the finale. The Wolves only have two more wins than they had last season, so they’d probably like to make it three, but are clearly one of the most promising teams in the league. But I would feel better about using them if the Wolves were at home tonight. Watch the Rotoworld newsfeed before plugging the Wolves studs into your DFS lineup.
Nuggets 109, Mavericks 91 – This game was so meaningless that Tony Romo was an honorary Maverick for the night and was on the bench in a Mavs uniform, but thankfully never entered the game (only because the NBA wouldn’t let the Mavs actually sign him). Neither team had anything to play for, obviously, but Gary Harris went off for the Nuggets, racking up 20 points, eight boards, eight assists and four 3-pointers in 35 minutes. I sure wish he would have done this on Sunday, when I lost a championship match by a mere two points. Jamal Murray had a 10 & 10 double-double, Mason Plumlee started and had 16 points and nine boards, while Wilson Chandler and Nikola Jokic were a bit quiet in starts. Juancho Hernangomez had 14 points, six boards and a 3-pointer, and Michael Beasley added 16 points, five boards, two steals and two 3-pointers in 32 minutes off the bench. The Nuggets are out of the playoffs and visit the Thunder tonight, so I’m guessing we’ll see more of the same from Denver tonight. As usual, for every game on Wednesday night, make sure the guys you’re wanting to use are going to play by following the Rotoworld newsfeed.
The Mavericks were led by Dirk Nowitzki’s 21 points and eight rebounds, but he won’t even travel to Memphis tonight. Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews got the night off, so they could play tonight. Then again, the Mavs could just play the kids and leave the veterans on the bench all night. J.J. Barea had 13 points, nine assists and three 3-pointers, and Yogi Ferrell had 10 points, five rebounds, three assists, a steal and a 3-pointer on 4-of-12 shooting. If Dallas sits their studs, Dwight Powell, Nicolas Brussino, Ferrell and Devin Harris could all be worth using tonight.
Lakers 108, Pelicans 96 – Metta World Peace got the start at shooting guard with D’Angelo Williams out due to a death in the family and scored a season-high 18 points with four 3-pointers and four steals to lead the Lakers to a win. It was impossible to see this coming, especially since news of MWP starting came very late. But it was also fun watching him fire at will and turn back the clock for a minute. Brandon Ingram, Jordan Clarkson, Julius Randle, Thomas Robinson and David Nwaba all joined MWP in double-digit scoring, but Randle ruined my night by not playing for most of the second half after picking up his fourth personal foul early in the half. The Lakers know what he can do and chose to role with other personnel down the stretch. The Lakers finish up with the Warriors at Oracle Arena tonight and will likely do what it takes to win. I feel comfortable rolling with the Lakers regulars and have a feeling that Tarik Black and Larry Nance could have big stat lines.
Cheick Diallo led the Pelicans with 19 points, 11 boards and two blocks on 9-of-10 shooting in 27 minutes off the bench, as DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis sat this one out. Jrue Holiday scored 14 with seven assists, Alexis Ajinca had 14 points, eight boards, a steal and a block, and Jordan Crawford came alive late for 11 points, seven dimes, two steals and a 3-pointer in 21 minutes. The Pelicans are at the Blazers tonight in another meaningless game, but Diallo and Crawford still feel like great options to me, as long as the big guns aren’t playing. If the Pels were at home tonight, I’d have a little faith that the starters would play, but on the road, it’s hard to imagine most of them even suiting up. The Lakers have won five straight and clearly don’t care about ping-pong balls.
Kings 129, Suns 104 – I don’t know if anything says ‘NBA Silly Season’ quite like a Ty Lawson triple-double, but that’s what happened in this one. The Suns are awful against opposing point guards, Darren Collison was out, and Lawson racked up 22 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists, a steal and a 3-pointer to join the long list of triple-double guys this season. Buddy Hield went off for a career-high 30 points, six boards and four 3-pointers, Ben McLemore had 13 points and nine boards, Willie Cauley-Stein added 13 points, four boards and two steals, and Skal Labissiere had 12 points and six boards in the win. Anthony Tolliver, Georgios Papagiannis and Garrett Temple all hit double figures in scoring off the bench for the Kings. They finish up with the defensive-minded Clippers tonight, but I still think Hield is a strong play, while Lawson might also be worth using if Collison is held out again.
Tyler Ulis was one of the point-guard plays of the night with 27 points, six assists, a steal and three 3-pointers, and has scored between 20 and 34 points in four of his last five games. He averaged 12.7 points and 7.3 assists after the All-Star break and if Eric Bledsoe didn’t play for the Suns, Ulis might be in the running for Rookie of the Year. Bledsoe, who was shut down a few weeks ago, will be back next season, so it will be interesting to see how the Suns find a way to get Ulis the minutes he’ll need. The future is bright. Marquese Chriss and Alan Williams also went off last night, while Derrick Jones Jr. and T.J. Warren were both useful, seeing heavy minutes. The Suns are done for the season.
Wednesday’s Meaningful Games
It’s tough to pick between players who have something to play for in the finale and scrubs that may get a ton of minutes tonight in DFS. But you at least know the guys in meaningful games will play. So here is what we’re looking at on Wednesday. Games don’t start until 8 p.m., so you have an extra hour to figure out your lineups.
ATL @ IND – If the Pacers win, they’re the No. 7 seed and will play the Cavaliers or Celtics in the first round. If the Pacers lose this one and the Heat and Bulls both win, the Pacers are out of the playoffs. The Pacers could end up as the No. 7 or 8 seed, or be out of the playoffs, so you can rest assured that they’re going all-in against the Hawks. Paul George is simply a must-play, while Jeff Teague, Myles Turner and Thaddeus Young all look like good bets. The Hawks will probably sit a bunch of guys in order to rest up for the Wizards.
TOR @ CLE – If the Cavs win, they need the Celtics to lose in order to be the No. 1 seed. If they lose, they’re No. 2. However, it sounds like LeBron James is a no-go in this one, which makes no sense to me. And if LeBron doesn’t put up a fight to be allowed to play in this one, he’s going to catch some serious heat, so to speak. The Raps are locked into the No. 3 seed, so they probably don’t really care.
MIL @ BOS – If the Celtics win, they’re the No. 1 seed. If they lose and the Cavs win, Boston will be the No. 2 seed. The Bucks are locked into the No. 6 seed and will face the Raptors in the playoffs, so they could be resting everyone you care about. Celtics players like Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Avery Bradley and Al Horford look like nice DFS options, as the Celtics are in a must-win situation.
WAS @ MIA – If the Pacers and Bulls win, the Heat are out, regardless of what happens in this one. If the Bulls lose and the Heat win, the Bulls are out. In short, the Heat have to win this one and would prefer to see both the Pacers and Bulls lose, as they’d be the No. 7 seed. Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson will all be worth consideration tonight. The Wizards are locked into the No. 4 seed and will face the Hawks, so they could give guys a rest tonight.
BRK @ CHI – Just like the Heat and Pacers, the Bulls could be out of the playoffs if they lose and the Heat and Pacers win. The Bulls will be going all-in on this one and it sounds like Rajon Rondo (wrist) might play. If he doesn’t, Jerian Grant will be worth a look, while Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, Nikola Mirotic and Robin Lopez will all be worth fantasy consideration. The Nets have nothing to play for and could rest some vets, so take a close look at the Rotoworld newsfeed before rolling the dice on any of them.
SAN @ UTA – Gregg Popovich says he will play his guys in this one, but as we saw on Monday, heavy minutes aren’t guaranteed for any of them. I won’t be touching any Spurs in DFS tonight, including Kawhi Leonard. Utah is playing for the No. 4 seed, but they’ll have to win and the Clippers will have to lose for it to happen. The Jazz should go all-out in this one, with Gordon Hayward, Rudy Gobert, George Hill and Rodney Hood all worth consideration tonight. If the Jazz lose, they’ll be the No. 5 seed and the Clippers will have homecourt advantage in their first-round matchup.
SAC @ LAC – The Clippers will get the No. 4 seed and homecourt in the first round if they beat the Kings tonight. If the Clippers lose and the Jazz beat the Spurs, the Jazz will be the No. 4 seed and have homecourt in the first round. Either way, the Clips and Jazz will face each other in Round 1. Expect the Clippers to play Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick heavy minutes in hopes of securing the No. 4 seed. I have no idea what the Kings will do, but the only one I really trust is Buddy Hield, and Ty Lawson if Darren Collison is out. Skal Labissiere, Georgios Papagiannis and Willie Cauley-Stein are also worth a look, as is Ben McLemore.
Wednesday’s Meaningless Games
LAL @ GSW – The Warriors are the No. 1 seed throughout the playoffs, so it’s hard to say if they’ll play the studs tonight. The Lakers are out, obviously. Metta World Peace was the star for the Lakers on Tuesday, so anything is possible tonight. I’m staying away.
NOP @ POR – Portland is locked in as the No. 8 seed and will play the Warriors in Round 1, so expect more rest of the studs. However, Damian Lillard says he’s playing, but I bet his minutes are limited. The Pelicans will likely leave DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis on the shelf, and I like Jordan Crawford to go off in this one. Alexis Ajinca and Cheick Diallo are also worth a look after playing well on Tuesday.
DAL @ MEM – No Dirk Nowitzki in this one for Dallas and the Grizzlies could rest guys since they’re locked in as the No. 7 seed and a date with the Spurs in Round 1.
MIN @ HOU – Houston is the No. 3 seed and will play the Thunder in Round 1. Rest should be coming for their guys here. Tom Thibodeau doesn’t believe in resting guys, but this one is on the road, so anything is possible. For what it’s worth, the starters all played massive minutes in Tuesday’s meaningless game, so there’s a good chance that will happen again tonight.
DEN @ OKC – Russell Westbrook should rest again for the No. 6 Thunder, clearing the way for more Victor Oladipo, while the Nuggets have nothing to play for. Gary Harris was great on Tuesday and could do it again tonight.
DET @ ORL – Yuck. Who knows?
PHI @ NYK - Also yuck. Although I am quite intrigued by Alex Poythress, Justin Anderson and Timothe Luwawu in this one. Mindaugas Kuzminskas could be nice for the Knicks, along with Willy Hernangomez.