A day that began with a thrilling shootout between two of the NBA's best players, was ultimately headlined by more injuries. Boston lost its two healthy stars in the final minute of their loss to Portland, while the Lakers and Kings both watched key starters limp off the floor in their respective games. Let's take a look at some of the day's biggest storylines.
Bucks 117, Nets 114
Trail Blazers 129, Celtics 119
Knicks 122, Rockets 97
Heat 121, Hornets 111
Kings 111, Mavericks 89
Suns 123, Thunder 120
76ers 113, Spurs 111 (OT)
Raptors 121, Lakers 114
1. Giannis out-duels Durant in battle of former MVPs
Sunday's matinee between the Nets and Bucks lived up to the hype, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kevin Durant both going over the 40-point mark. The former established a new season-high with 49 points (21-of-36 FGs, 3-of-6 FTs), eight rebounds, four assists, one steal, three blocks and four 3-pointers in 36 minutes. Also a season-high was that 3-point total, as Giannis hadn't made three in a game since the opener back on December 23. He showed no ill effects from the ankle injury that forced him out of Thursday's loss to the Rockets less than a minutes into that game. With Giannis and Donte DiVincenzo (eight rebounds, one assist and one block in 30 minutes) both cleared to play, Bryn Forbes (12 points, one rebound and three 3-pointers) returned to the bench while Bobby Portis was held out due to a stomach illness. At this point in the season, DiVincenzo, Forbes and Portis can all be left alone in most standard leagues when the Bucks are at full strength.
As for Durant, he pumped in 42 points (16-of-33 FGs, 3-of-4 FTs) while also tallying 10 rebounds, two assists, one steal and seven 3-pointers. The 42 matches a season-high for KD, who was one of two changes to the starting lineup aft4er sitting out Friday's loss to the Blazers. With Durant and DeAndre Jordan (10/11/0/1/1 in 24 minutes) in the starting five, Landry Shamet (17/3/2 with four 3-pointers in 28 minutes) and Blake Griffin (11/7/1 with two 3-pointers in 18 minutes) moved back to the bench. Shamet, who's rostered in 19% of Yahoo leagues, has provided 11th-round value in 9-cat over the last month. That isn't good enough to justify using him in standard leagues during these fantasy playoff rounds, but he's worth a look in deep leagues with the Nets without both James Harden and Bruce Brown.
2. LeBron starts but departs early due to sore ankle
With the Lakers scheduled to host the Nuggets Monday night, there was some interest in how LeBron James' minutes would be managed. Unfortunately he wasn't around for the final six-plus minutes of Sunday's loss to the Raptors, as he had to leave with a sore right ankle (the same one that kept him out for 20 games). James played 28 minutes, recording a line of 19 points, seven rebounds, six assists and two 3-pointers while also turning the ball over five times. Beyond Monday night, the schedule does the Lakers no favors when it comes to keeping an already banged-up squad healthy. They've got three more back-to-backs to navigate before the end of the regular season, and with the Lakers dropping into a tie with Dallas and Portland in spots 5 through 7 seven in the West, the reigning champs could also have to deal with the play-in tournament.
If LeBron is unable to play Monday night, Kyle Kuzma (24/3/0/1/2 with six 3-pointers) and Talen Horton-Tucker (14/3/7) will see their respective fantasy values increase. Horton-Tucker was able to get more time on the ball Sunday night, as the absence of Dennis Schroder (health and safety protocols) meant a promotion into the starting lineup for Alex Caruso. Caruso played 26 minutes, finishing with seven points, four rebounds, five assists and one 3-pointer. THT offers more in the way of fantasy upside, especially if he's going to consistently spend more time playing on the ball. Anthony Davis (12/9/7/3/1) posted a full line but really couldn't get going offensively, as he made just five of his 16 field goal attempts on the night.
3. Celtics hit hard by injuries, ejection in home defeat
Not only did Boston lose Sunday's game against Portland, but they also lost two of their most important players in the final minutes. Jayson Tatum (33/2/5/0/1 with four 3-pointers) and Jaylen Brown (16/11/4 with one 3-pointer) collided while attempting to trap a Blazers player by the sideline, and both headed back to the locker room immediately. While Tatum was able to apply weight to his right leg, Brown was unable to do so to his right leg and hopped back to the locker room. With Kemba Walker (oblique) already sidelined, an extended absence for either -- or both -- of Boston's remaining stars could have major consequences when it comes to playoff seeding in the East.
Also of note late in this one was Marcus Smart being issued a Flagrant-2 for the low blow that he delivered to Jusuf Nurkic. We'll see if any further discipline comes from the league, but if so it will likely be in the form of a fine. Boston also made a change to its starting lineup, as Tristan Thompson (2/4/4/0/3 in 23 minutes) replaced Robert Williams (5/5/5/1/2 in 24 minutes). This was likely a matchup-based decision, so as to have Thompson deal with the rugged Nurkic while keeping the Time Lord out of early foul trouble. This isn't a huge deal as far as Williams' fantasy value is concerned; he is still the far better option of the two.
If there was a positive for the Celtics it was the play of Evan Fournier, who shot 8-of-10 from the field and posted a line of 21 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and five 3-pointers in 34 minutes. Hopefully this is a sign that Fournier, who is still dealing with some lingering effects from COVID-19, is turning the corner. And depending upon what happens with Tatum and Brown, the Celtics need this to be the case.
4. Already without Barnes and Metu, Kings lose Haliburton
Sacramento completed its season sweep of Dallas with a comfortable 22-point victory, but it may have come at a major cost. Tyrese Haliburton, who has been one of the league's best (and its most consistent) rookies, hyperextended his left knee less than halfway through the third quarter. Able to limp back to the locker room under his own power, Haliburton finished the game with 11 points, two rebounds, five assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in 23 minutes played. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, Haliburton will undergo an MRI on Monday, and there's some guarded optimism that the injury isn't as severe as it looked.
Should Haliburton have to miss an extended period of time the Kings would be down two of their three starting guards, as De'Aaron Fox is still out due to health and safety protocols. That would mean even more playing time for Delon Wright, who in 31 minutes off the bench accounted for 14 points, two rebounds, five assists and two steals. While he hasn't provided great fantasy value since Fox exited the lineup, Wright is in a position where fantasy managers in the midst of playoff action (or roto leagues that run through the end of the season) need to pick him up. He's currently rostered in 49% of Yahoo leagues.
Buddy Hield (27/6/3/0/1 with six 3-pointers in 42 minutes) and Marvin Bagley (23/9/3/1 with one 3-pointer in 34 minutes) led the way offensively for the Kings, with the latter exceeding his minutes limit out of necessity due to the injuries. In addition to Fox, the Kings were also without Harrison Barnes (adductor) and Chimezie Metu (tailbone) Sunday night.
5. The Mavericks were also down two rotation players
Dallas was without Kristaps Porzingis, who was held out for a second straight game due to a sore right knee, and Tim Hardaway Jr. THJ sat due to a sore right ankle, robbing the Mavericks of a potent scorer off the bench. Jalen Brunson was the man who stepped up with Hardaway out, putting up 17 points, two rebounds, three assists, one steal and one 3-pointer in 26 minutes off the bench. Rostered in 25% of Yahoo leagues, Brunson hasn't been a great option as far as fantasy is concerned this season. But he is worth considering as a streaming option on nights when the Mavs are down a player on the perimeter.
As for Porzingis' absence, Dwight Powell (13/7/0/2/3) had one of his better games this season, and did so in 20 minutes of action. Nights like this have been anything but the norm for Powell, so there's no need to pick him up, even if Porzingis isn't available for Tuesday's game in Miami. Something that bears watching regarding Dallas is Luka Doncic's (30/6/6/2 with one 3-pointer) technical foul total. Ejected late in Sunday's loss, he is up to 15 on the season. One more, and Doncic will have to serve a mandatory, one-game suspension.
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6. Knicks roll, but lose Noel to ankle injury
Sunday's matchup with the Rockets was not only the first game of a back-to-back for the Knicks, but also the first game of a six-game road trip. Tom Thibodeau's team rolled, but they lost Nerlens Noel (two points, two rebounds in 11 minutes) during the third quarter due to a sprained left ankle. While X-ray on the ankle were negative, Noel will undergo further testing on Monday. Fantasy managers who have him rostered should anticipate Noel sitting out Monday's game in Memphis, which would mean an expanded role for Taj Gibson.
Gibson, who handled the majority of the minutes at center during the first half when Noel was healthy, played 32 minutes and recorded a line of six points and five rebounds. Monday's matchup with Jonas Valanciunas will be a challenge, but Gibson should get well into the thirties as far as playing time is concerned. In 13 games when he's played between 20 and 29 minutes, he's averaging 6.6 points, 7.4 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.3 blocks in 24.6 minutes per. Gibson played 30 minutes or more in three games (two starts) prior to Sunday, and he averaged 5.7 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.3 blocks in 33.5 minutes per. Norvel Pelle would enter the rotation if Noel sits Monday, but he's highly unlikely to play enough to offer anything with regard to fantasy value.
Also of note with regard to the Knicks rotation is that Alec Burks (health and safety protocols) was once again inactive. He is with the team, however, so it's possible that he'll return at some point during this six-game road trip. Derrick Rose has shouldered a considerable amount of the load for the second unit with Burks sidelined, and he finished Sunday's win with 24 points, six rebounds, four assists, one steal and four 3-pointers in 31 minutes.
7. Hornets lose Martin, ground in the race to avoid play-in tournament
Charlotte could have gained a game on both the Heat and the Celtics Sunday, but they fell even further behind the former as Miami picked up a 10-point victory in the Queen City. And the Hornets also lost a starter, as Cody Martin suffered a sprained left ankle and played just seven minutes. Martin isn't a factor as far as fantasy is concerned, but the ankle injury is worth keeping an eye on as the Hornets will play four games (including a back-to-back against the Bulls and Magic on May 6-7) this week. Martin having to miss game time could lead to Devonte' Graham rejoining the starting lineup alongside LaMelo Ball (14/6/5/4/1 in 30 minutes; played both games of the back-to-back) and Terry Rozier (14/3/3/1 with two 3-pointers in 27 minutes).
Graham played 24 minutes off the bench Sunday, recording a line of nine points, two rebounds, five assists and one 3-pointer. He's been more productive as a starter this season, and a move back to the first five could be what helps Graham salvage something as far as fantasy is concerned. Malik Monk (11 points, five assists, one steal and three 3-pointers in 27 minutes) and Jalen McDaniels (12/9/2 with three 3-pointers in 27 minutes) are also worth tracking in the immediate aftermath of Martin's ankle injury.
Quick note on the Heat; Dewayne Dedmon hit double figures for the second time in his last three games, recording a line of 14 points, eight rebounds and one steal in 13 minutes. His arrival (and production) hasn't been particularly impactful from a fantasy standpoint, but it has essentially pushed rookie Precious Achiuwa out of the rotation. Since playing 29 minutes in a win over the Rockets back on April 19, Miami's most recent first-round pick has amassed a total of five minutes in the team's last seven games. Unless the Heat are hit hard by frontcourt injuries, we won't be seeing much of Achiuwa for the rest of this season.
8. Spurs rest three starters, nearly win anyway
DeMar DeRozan, Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl were all given Sunday night off for rest reasons, as the game against the 76ers was the first of a back-to-back (at Utah on Monday). Tre Jones, Rudy Gay and Drew Eubanks made spot starts in a game that was decided by a Ben Simmons tip-in as time expired, with the latter two having solid-to-good nights for the Spurs. Gay recorded a line of 18 points, 10 rebounds, two assists, two steals and two 3-pointers in 36 minutes, while Eubanks accounted for 10 points, six rebounds and one blocked shot in 22 minutes. As for Jones, he played 22 minutes and tallied four points, two rebounds and three assists.
The absences of those three starters also meant more opportunities for Gorgui Dieng and Lonnie Walker, with both posting solid lines off the bench in 31 minutes played apiece. Dieng had his best game since signing with the Spurs, putting up 17 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and three 3-pointers, while Walker led the way offensively with 23 points to go along with two assists and three 3-pointers. Walker has some streaming value on nights when DeRozan and/or Murray don't play, due to Derrick White (right ankle) not being expected to return this season. But that represents his fantasy ceiling at this point.
9. Thunder welcome back Dort, but lose Pokusevski
One night removed from its worst performance of the season, Oklahoma City welcomed back two starters for Sunday's game against the Suns. Luguentz Dort (10/1/4 with two 3-pointers) had a rough go of it offensively, shooting 4-of-19 from the field, but at least he was able to play 35 minutes. Aleksej Pokusevski, on the other hand, played just 10 due to a left knee contusion. That's the same knee that has been bothering the rookie recently, so this isn't a good sign with regard to his availability moving forward. Pokusevski (four points, two assists) is still rostered in 18% of Yahoo leagues, and now is the time for the remaining holdovers to cut bait, especially when you take into consideration how the Thunder have handled other injured players in recent games.
Theo Maledon (18/4/4/1 with three 3-pointers in 28 minutes) and Ty Jerome (15/2/5/1/1 with three 3-pointers in 23 minutes) shouldn't lack for playing time, so long as they continue to stay healthy. Jerome, who's rostered in 7% of Yahoo leagues, is providing 12th-round value in 9-cat over the last two weeks. That isn't great, but he's worthy of a streaming look on nights when OKC decides to sit the aforementioned Dort. The Thunder have a back-to-back on the schedule for May 8-9 (at Golden State, at Sacramento), so assume that Dort will sit out at least one of the team's four games this upcoming week.
Phoenix was down a reserve, as Cameron Payne (left knee contusion) joined Jae Crowder (sprained right ankle) on the sideline. As a result Jevon Carter picked up more playing time, recording a line of six points, four rebounds, three assists, four steal and one 3-pointer in 27 minutes off the bench. Carter established season-highs in both steals and minutes played, but he's a non-starter as far a fantasy is concerned. Even on nights when Payne is ruled out, Carter still has to deal with Chris Paul when it comes to minutes at the point. And he isn't surpassing CP3 in the pecking order.
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10. The "Lowry and Spicy P Show" takes over Staples Center
Toronto was back in action for the second time in as many nights, and they managed to bounce back from Saturday's loss to the Jazz by holding off the Lakers. While Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby were given the night off, Kyle Lowry made his return while Pascal Siakam played both ends of the back-to-back. Lowry and Siakam did most of the heavy lifting Sunday, combining to score 76 of the Raptors starters' 80 points. Siakam tallied 39 points, 13 rebounds, four assists, two steals, two blocks and four 3-pointers in 38 minutes, with this being his first 30/10 game since a February 5 win over the Nets.
As for Lowry, he accounted for 37 points, two rebounds, 11 assists, one steal and eight 3-pointers in 41 minutes. The good news, for the Raptors and those who have Lowry, VanVleet (who is still being nagged by a hip injury), Siakam and Anunoby rostered, is that Toronto has just one back-to-back remaining on its schedule (May 13-14 vs. Chicago and Dallas). That should help the team in its run for a spot in the East's play-in tournament. Malachi Flynn, who remained in the starting lineup Sunday, had a very rough night. Missing all seven of his field goal attempts, the rookie went scoreless with one rebound and one assist in 20 minutes. DeAndre Bembry (14/8/1/3) gave the Raptors 24 good minutes off the bench, which helped account for Flynn's bad night.