Let me help you with your Sunday plans: After Golden State (barely) got by Memphis for win No. 71, you’re going to be spending the end of your weekend watching the Spurs and Warriors go head-to-head in the most highly anticipated game on the 82-game schedule to date. No need to thank me, dishing out assists is just what I do.
Phoenix @ New Orleans: Suns 121, Pelicans 100
Duds: Alexis Ajinca
The Biggest Takeaway(s): After teasing us at the end of March, Alex Len has again taken a step back in April. Including Saturday’s empty double-double (10&11), Len is averaging 6.6 points, 8.0 rebounds and nothing defensively on a paltry 26.2% shooting over his last five games. Archie Goodwin (ankle) is expected to be fine, and he’s worth considering if you need a scoring guard with back-to-back nice lines. Mirza Teletovic—who has 20-plus points in four of his last five—Devin Booker and Toney Douglas—a candidate for late-season pickup of the year—should all be owned already, but James Ennis—averaging 12.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.9 3PM on 45.5% from the floor since joining New Orleans—is probably available. Alexis Ajinca was a popular pickup on Friday night, but he injured his shoulder in the loss and can be released back into the water in favor of a Sunday streamer. Tim Frazier, who flirted with a triple-double (11/8/7) and has two nice matchups to finish his ferocious fury to the finish line, is worth a roster spot everywhere.
Boston @ Atlanta: Hawks 118, Celtics 107
The Biggest Takeaway(s): There is some admittedly stiff competition, but give me Paul Millsap for fantasy MVP in the non-Steph Curry division. I know I’ve mentioned Prince Paul’s case for royalty in the past, but it’s worth reiterating, highlighting and celebrating when Millsap channels his inner Michael Jordan and comes through in the clutch: 31 points, 16 rebounds, two steals, five blocks and five triples on 13-of-22 (59.1%) shooting. He’s averaged 18.1 points, 12.6 boards, 3.6 assists, 2.1 steals, 3.9 blocks and 1.9 treys on 49.0% from the field and 83.3% from the line in his last seven games, making him fantasy’s No. 1 player in a season-defining stretch. Get some, Paulie. Kent Bazemore (knee) looked great and has thrown it in reverse for thirst at the right time with three straight stat-stuffing efforts, while Jared Sullinger is moving in the exact opposite direction and completely bottomed out with just ten minutes of action. Given where we are, I wouldn’t hesitate in moving on, especially with two bad matchups (CHA, MIA) remaining. Marcus Smart started the second half in Sullinger’s place and offered a glimpse into the kind of future (19 points, five boards, three dimes, one steal, four treys) that dynasty league owners hope can become a reality as soon as next season.
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Golden State @ Memphis: Warriors 100, Grizzlies 99
The Biggest Takeaway(s): Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry combined to make just 5-of-24 three-point attempts, and the Warriors wouldn’t have come away with the win nor had a chance at history without a last-second gift from the officials. Lance Stephenson—who started in place of Tony Allen (hamstring)—took a corner jumper, and rather than Thompson (or Curry) being called for what should have been a foul, the referees swallowed their whistles and kept Golden State’s narrative alive. There are now only two games remaining on the Warriors’ quest for 73 wins. Matt Barnes found his stroke en route to an enormous line (24 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, three 3PM) but Zach Randolph’s has gone MIA at the wrong time, connecting on just 33-of-90 (36.7%) shots over his last five. Barnes is the only Grizzlies player I’d want on my fantasy roster.
Cleveland @ Chicago: Bulls 105, Cavs 102
The Biggest Takeaway(s): It’s hard to believe that this Bulls team can go 7-1 vs. the Cavs and Raptors and barely keep their (nonexistent) playoff dreams alive, but that’s the situation Chicago is in after what has been a very disappointing season in Fred Hoiberg’s inaugural year. Chicago could shut down Jimmy Butler (knee), Pau Gasol (knee) and/or Derrick Rose (body) as soon as they’re eliminated—which is a virtual certainty given the cakewalk that is Indiana’s remaining schedule—so that’s a scenario to be prepared for if your league extends into next week. Cristiano Felicio came out of nowhere for 16 points, five boards and two blocks on a perfect 7-of-7 shooting, but even with Taj Gibson (ribs) likely to watch the rest of the action from the sidelines, there’s little to get excited about unless Gasol ends his season early. If that happens, Felicio would have primetime matchups vs. New Orleans and Philadelphia to close out the fantasy campaign. For Cleveland, it was more of the same with LeBron James, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith—who is hot at the right time with 20 triples in the last six days—continuing to play well with Kyrie Irving a step behind. If the Cavs are going to return to the Finals, they’ll need Love and Irving to at least come close to matching what Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh provided LeBron, something the Cleveland duo has been unable to do thus far.
Minnesota @ Portland: Wolves 106, Blazers 105
The Biggest Takeaway(s): Maybe Karl-Anthony Towns was actually meant for 2009 when Lil’ Wayne dropped his ‘No Ceilings’ mixtape, because that title would be an appropriate phrase to describe The Big KAT’s unbelievably impressive game. Missing his 15th straight In-N-Out special by a single rebound, Towns has made a mockery of the Rookie of the Year Race en route to establishing himself as anything but a boy in a grown man’s NBA. He’s a first-round fantasy pick in re-draft formats, a pillar of dynasty teams for the next decade and a far more polished product than Anthony Davis was at the same stage of his career. There are no limits to what Towns can achieve, and Minnesota has a transcendent, generational talent to build around in the middle as well as Andrew Wiggins blossoming into an elite two-way superstar on the wing. Outside of one favorable matchup vs. Sacramento, it’s been a struggle for Gorgui Dieng in April, but he finishes his year with two cushy matchups vs. Houston and New Orleans, so stick with him through the final finish line. A clearly tired Zach LaVine is not currently a must-own player, and his recent inefficiency (19-of-57 over his last six) is a big reason why. The Blazers have only one game remaining before advancing to the playoffs, a sentence that would’ve been almost inconceivable to type prior to the season beginning. That’s why you don’t believe what they say, right?
Oklahoma City @ Sacramento: Kings 114, Thunder 112
The Biggest Takeaway(s): OKC played Kevin Durant 40 minutes in a meaningless contest, a possible indication that he’ll sit in at least one of the team’s remaining two games. With one final matchup vs. Kobe on Monday before facing San Antonio on Tuesday, KD may not be looking at much more regular season playing time regardless with the Thunder locked into the three seed. Russell Westbrook could also rest, so anyone relying on either superstar needs to have contingency plans in place.
The final game at Sleep Train (read: Arco) Arena gave Kings fans something to cheer about, and it wasn’t because DeMarcus Cousins (15 points on 7-of-24 shooting) had a big night in his farewell game. Rudy Gay stuffed the stat sheet, Darren Collison went ham, sausage and bologna in a start for Rajon Rondo (rest) and Seth Curry hit twice as many 3-pointers (six) as his brother—you may know about that Steph guy—on a night that was about more than basketball in Sacramento. Curry, Collison and Willie Cauley-Stein (four points, four boards, three steals) are must-own, must-start players the rest of the way.