Guster drummer and hoops head Brian Rosenworcel is filling in for Dr. A this morning. Enjoy.
It’s the silly season in the NBA, a time when random off nights surface not only from NBA starters but also from Rotoworld studs like Steve Alexander, who was a late scratch tonight. Fortunately Dr. A tapped a random, unqualified musician to cover his Dose at the last minute. The silly season is a time when Thomas Robinson, Moe Harkless, and Luke Babbitt can win you a championship, and if I can just be as solid as Mirza Teletovic filling in tonight off the bench, I will have achieved something.
All this injury/rest/tanking nonsense would be good fun except that a lot of us are playing for championships this week. It’s like you spent all year building your juggernaut, refining which categories belong to you, and then at the very end you reach this bizarro portal where everything’s upside down and you need to seriously consider “should I drop Boogie for Alexis Ajinca?”-- and that’s why fantasy leagues should end a couple of weeks before the NBA season. My advice is to keep as many roster moves handy as you’re permitted and tread carefully with your DFS lineups at the deadline. And you should take my advice because I am a drummer.
Fortunately the NBA Scheduling Gods have blessed us with a pair of Warriors-Spurs games in the final week, and the games mean something, as there are records to be broken, streaks to be extended, and pinkies to be dislocated...
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Warriors 112, Spurs 101
You know this game meant something to Pop because he called a timeout 59 seconds into the game and chewed his team out for defensive miscues. You know this game meant something to Pop because he played his guys. Expect them to sit on Friday against Denver (hello, Boban Marjanovic!) and return for Sunday’s rematch against the Warriors. But the Spurs got walloped and looked lost on defense at Oracle Arena last night. Their energy didn’t come close to that of Warriors, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens this weekend in Texas.
Golden State’s starters shot 57% from the field in this one. Harrison Barnes looked sprightly for the Warriors, finishing with 21 points, eight boards and three treys. Stephen Curry shot 11-of-19 for 27 points, nine assists, three triples and two steals. Draymond Green was Draymond Green with 18/7/6, and it’s impossible to understate how important he is to the chemistry of this team. Remember when Steve Kerr gave David Lee’s job to Draymond? The Warriors haven’t looked back since and are now 70-9 with a real chance at finishing with a record-setting record of 73-9 with three games left.
For the Spurs, Kawhi Leonard was solid (23 points on 8-of-12 shooting) and Danny Green ended up with nine points, five rebounds, four steals, two blocks and three triples, but Tim Duncan was a non-factor in 19 minutes and LaMarcus Aldridge played with his pinky taped to his ring finger after dislocating it in the first quarter (TRY SLEEPING AT NIGHT NOW, POP!). Aldridge shot 5-of-16 for just 11 points and it’ll be interesting to see if his sideways pinky heals by the weekend. David West played 24 minutes with 11 points and seven dimes, while Kyle Anderson had 11 boards to go with eight points off the bench.
Hawks 95, Raptors 87
Atlanta Hawks are pretty safe players to own as the middle of the pack in the East jockey for playoff seeding. Paul Millsap put up 14 points, 13 boards, five blocks and a steal. Jeff Teague had 23 points and five assists, and Kyle Korver was solid with 14 points, five boards, four assists, four triples and three blocks. Mike Scott put up 11 & 7 with a three off the bench, but can’t be trusted. Meanwhile Dennis Schroder was 0-for-7 from the field and is now shooting 20% from the field over his last four. Stay away while he figures it out.
The Raptors got 16 points from Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan but both players shot the ball poorly. The big story was the return of DeMarre Carroll, who played 14 minutes off the bench in his first action since January. Carroll put up five points, four steals and a three, and while he’s not someone to acquire over the next few games while he gets up to speed, I fully expect him to be a factor in the playoffs, so those of you playing Fantasy Postseason (I’m looking at you, eight equally nerdy friends in my league) should take note. He might become a DFS option in the postseason too.
Heat 106, Bulls 98
Hassan Whiteside came off the bench and put up 16 points, 12 rebounds, a steal and a block in 27 minutes. He was tackled on this strange flagrant foul from Doug McDermott and later said he was “sacked for a loss of five” – we are all lucky to have Hassan Whiteside in the NBA. Dwayne Wade was solid with 21 points, five boards and four assists, and Goran Dragic put up a solid 16 points, 12 boards, and four dimes.
The Bulls watched their playoffs hopes dissolve tonight, despite big nights from Pau Gasol (21 points, 12 boards, 4 blocks) and Jimmy Butler (25 points, 6 assists). Nikola Mirotic put up a super-dud with four points and three steals in a start, and after jerking us around all year, this one feels cruelly Ilyasovan in nature. We’d just started to believe, Nikola. Watch for some Bulls to rest down the stretch once they’re mathematically eliminated, and maybe that means it’s time to (hash tag) Free Cristiano Felicio (8 points and 7 boards in 14 minutes). The Bulls’ season can be summed up by this thunderous Josh Richardson dunk over the entire team last night.
Suns 124, Rockets 115
The Rockets blew a game they needed to win, and it’s a dire situation in Houston now. The Suns got huge games from P.J. Tucker (24 points, 5 boards, 4 assists, 2 threes) and Mirza Teletovic (26 points, 5 boards, 4 threes), both of whom should be owned everywhere. Tyson Chandler put up 21 and 10, Ronnie Price was solid with nine points, five assists, three boards, three steals and three triples, and Alex Len had a career-high seven assists to go with six points and eight boards. There was a rare Archie Goodwin sighting, as he went for 16 points, five assists, three steals and a three, and Jon Leuer returned for 10 minutes of action. He can be left on the wire while Mirza takes care of business.
As for the Rockets, James Harden (30 points, 7 assists, 5 threes on 10-14 shooting) and Trevor Ariza (22 points, 5 threes, 4 steals, 3 blocks) were downright studly, but allowed the Suns to go on a 12-0 run in the 4th quarter and now it seems like Jason Terry (who was a minus-14 on the night) can make his arms look like an airplane and fly back home to play golf. Sorry. It’s how I feel. This is a difficult pill for Houston to swallow after making it to the Western Conference Finals last year.
Timberwolves 105, Kings 97
Gorgui Dieng (18 and 13) and Karl Anthony Towns (17 and 10) took care of business inside against the Boogie-less Tank-Kings. Nemanja Bjelica came off the bench to score 18 points with four boards and four threes, while Ricky Rubio didn’t even take a shot from the field, finishing with two points and five turnovers. Anyone who bought into the Shabazz Muhammad High Scoring Machine Situation was let down as he scored 10 points with two rebounds in 16 minutes. Expect this from Shabazz the rest of the way. Zach LaVine had 18 and Andrew Wiggins 15 for the Timberwolves.
The Kings got a beastly night from Rudy Gay, who ended up with 13 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, five steals, two blocks and a three despite shooting just 4-15 from the field. Quincy Acy put up 17 and six off the bench for the Tank-Kings, while Darren Collison and Willie Cauley-Stein were solid. Seth Curry came back to earth with 10 points and two threes in 26 minutes.